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Why did British curlers flop in Vancouver?

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Anna Thompson | 09:41 UK time, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Great Britain's men's curlers came to Vancouver with one objective - to win Olympic gold.

They were the current world champions and had beaten Canada on the four occasions they had met before the Games began, giving David Murdoch's men what was thought to be a key psychological edge over their major rivals for the title.

But Britain didn't even make the gold medal showdown at Vancouver Olympic Centre. Their hopes and dreams came crashing down around them when they failed to make it to the semi-finals after a galling 7-6 play-off defeat by European champions Sweden.

Murdoch, Euan Byers, Pete Smith and Ewan MacDonald were crestfallen - the only word they could summon to explain their feelings was "heart-breaking" - and there will now be an inquest into why they performed so poorly when so much was expected of them.

Britain's women's team, led by 19-year-old Eve Muirhead, also failed to make it to the semi-finals. But, having been ranked seventh, it would have been a major achievement had they reached the last four.

david_murdoch_new595.jpgMurdoch's team were among the favourites to win gold

The men should have breezed - like Canada - through the round robin stage. Instead, they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Switzerland and blew chances to win against Norway in their final group match as well as the play-off against Sweden.

A downcast Rhona Martin, the gold-medal winning skip for Britain's women in 2002, was bemused by the men's failure.

"The women played to their rank and needed to raise it a few percentage points to get among the medal contenders but the men are the current world champions and knew what level was expected of them," she told me. "They played to their potential in some matches, like against Canada, but in others really lacked the intensity.

"There were points of brilliance in matches from individual players, but it wasn't pieced together enough. The performance just wasn't there on the ice for some reason. David has won two world titles, so what is the difference between a Winter Olympics and a World Championships? You're playing the same people in the same environment. I can't figure it out."

It is the second time Murdoch, Byers and MacDonald have suffered Olympic agony after losing to America in the bronze play-off match in Turin four years ago.

After those Games, UK Sport trebled the funding given to curling in the four-year cycle to Vancouver to £1.136m. There was also significant financial support provided by Sportscotland and the Scottish Institute of Sport.

Such funding enabled Murdoch and Byers to become full-time athletes, able to train for six days a week for the last two years, while the rest of the squad members were also able to solely focus on the Winter Olympics from the summer of 2009.

There was a whole host of support staff, too, to make sure Britain were properly prepared, including physiotherapists, psychologists, analysts, and strength and conditioning coaches, all overseen by performance director Derek Brown.

"The funding, the preparation and build-up was spot on," added GB men's curling coach David Hay. "We can't fault any part of it."

So was it the team dynamics then? The men have been playing together for years, while the women had more than a year to prepare. Yet it looked as though there were times when Jackie Lockhart, a former world championship-winning skip competing in her fourth Winter Olympics, was ignoring calls made by skip Muirhead, 25 years her junior.

You sensed it wasn't always rosy in the men's camp either, with the microphones inside the arena picking up niggly comments here and there.

Muirhead would not reveal how well her team had gelled but admitted: "You're not going to be best buddies all of the time but you have to get on and work as a unit. You have to trust your team-mates."

Maybe GB's failings simply were down to bad luck - a few inches here and there.

"In our game against Switzerland, had one shot curled another inch then we would have been in the semi-final," said Murdoch. "And against Sweden in the 10th end, we over-swept my last shot. If it had curled another inch, I would have been standing here with a smile on my face."

But it wasn't to be and Martin shared in the huge disappointment.

"I had high hopes for both teams, believing they both could have won a medal," she stated. "It is gut-wrenching neither of them has made the semi final stages."

Comments

  • 1. At 11:34am on 25 Feb 2010, ShinyDavidHowell wrote:

    Whether we like it or not, these performances will certainly provide extensive fuel to the already-obvious fire in the bellies of those who want winter sports funding to be slashed...

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  • 2. At 11:46am on 25 Feb 2010, Paul wrote:

    I thought that we lack conviction in key moments. In the womens game against Denmark Muirhead had the chance to leave a block in place but went for a bigger shot and lost three thereby putting us under real pressure. A telling moment though, as the author above hinted at was a moment of conflict between Muirhead and Lockhart. Lockhart straight away suggested putting the block in place which Muirhead dismissed out of hand. The coach backed the skip in the time out and Muirhead could be cleary heard debating the idea to block with Lockhart and I thought in a bit of a curt fashion, almost ridiculing her for the suggestion. Im not against the call by the young skip but the fact she went on and missed the harder shot and ultimately the game speaks for itself. Rhona Martin in commentary backed the block, in fact in both mens and womens key shots she always described the percentage and ultimately correct shot. Even in the mens game v Sweden we missed out by playing something more risky by the skip when the percentage shot (10th end) would have almost certainly won the match.

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  • 3. At 12:08pm on 25 Feb 2010, clanbeki wrote:

    £1m.... conditioning....

    i certainly hope funding is removed from those who clearly undermined the teams

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  • 4. At 12:13pm on 25 Feb 2010, millhouserobinson wrote:

    I know very little about curling but at the end of the End 10 it seemed fundmental not to leave the two yellows side by side and hence risk the doule take-out which happened. Leaving them wide part, as Rhona Martin suggested, would have left the Swede with only an either/or choice guaranteeing one yellow "in the house". All the skip then had to do was roll his final stone down to join it. Even if the team, in the heat of the moment could not see this, surely David Hay the coach should have done. His advice was catastrophic.

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  • 5. At 12:45pm on 25 Feb 2010, refill wrote:

    £1.1m for 4 years for one of the (if not the) most popular winter sports in the UK... kinda says a lot about BOA's attitude to winter sport. Even to those, like myself, who do not follow Curling regularly, it is obvious that this is a sport that is decided on tiny margins and single moments of brilliance or mistakes; all it takes is for a team (or even a single player) to have an inspired game and even the hottest of favourites can be made to look ordinary. I'm sure both our Curling teams will be absolutely devastated and doing much soul searching over the coming weeks, so lets not stick the knife in while they're down, they will know what they have to do in order to put things right next time.

    Success in an increasingly competitive world of Olympic sport requires consistant, long-term funding. I don't think anybody in Britain is asking for us to be winter sport powerhouses, but I do think we should stand by and support our strongest competitors (and our Curling teams are certainly in that category), not pull the plug after one disappointment. Compare our performances at Atlanta and Beijing to show what a difference successful planning and funding can do to an underperforming sporting entity.

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  • 6. At 12:53pm on 25 Feb 2010, Rupert P Matley wrote:

    'Whether we like it or not, these performances will certainly provide extensive fuel to the already-obvious fire in the bellies of those who want winter sports funding to be slashed...'

    On that basis, the funding should be slashed for a number of the track and field disciplines in the summer Olympics.

    However, if Jackie Lockhart WAS ignoring her skip's advice, she should be heavily fined. No point banning her as if I remember correctly, she's retiring.

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  • 7. At 1:01pm on 25 Feb 2010, Jamiroq wrote:

    So disappointing - both teams coming up just short. Anyway still loved the 2am edge of the seat final stones tho and it will take some time to get back to normal sleeping patterns!
    We must keep the infrastructue in place so we can keep developing new talent and potential gold medalist in these events.
    Star of the olympics for me(off the ice/snow)has been Rhona Martin who did a fantastic job in the commentary box. She really does knows what she is talking about. Great Job.

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  • 8. At 1:09pm on 25 Feb 2010, Dazza wrote:

    It was very obvious neither team were happy, i dont think i saw a unanimous smile once during the competition, all i saw were snide smurks when team mates failed to do what was needed.

    Both teams were so slow out of the blocks, playing very cagey, worried more about losing the advantage than trying to gain one. Whereas the other teams just went for it, got early leads and comfortably held them. Even when they got in trouble they were able to make the big shots to clear multiple stones or place the stone exactly where it needed to be.
    Not so for team GB, stones were wayward and usually placed where they could be taken out with an easy double (see end 10 last night).

    Personally im in the camp, and am very vocal about it, that the funding should be cut. Lets be honest here, the funding is provided purely on the basis of results, and so far the only sport that has even come close, were in finals or challenged for a place, is the one event we took gold from, the womens luge. Every single other event has been pathetic, womens bob sled, 2 teams, neither in the top 10 and so far behing the times of competitors. Speed skating, a HUGE team for us, and again, not making it anywhere except for last night, but again, he qualified in something like 16th. I could go on, but i think the point is clear, we are SO far behind in these other events.

    We need to either bet the house, build training centres, create programmes to match what Korea and Germany and even China have done along with pumping a huge amount of money into supporting the athletes. OR we remove the funding completely for events where we have no hope of doing anything but making up the numbers and let anyone that wants to compete do so on their own funding. Anything else is a waste.

    The curling team we sent was highly funded, highly experienced, highly supported and ended up looking like a bunch of petulant children who couldnt stand the sight of each other at times. Not to mention being beaten by a bunch of amateurs with far less support.

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  • 9. At 1:12pm on 25 Feb 2010, Andyspur37 wrote:

    This is the first time I have ever watched Curling so would hardly call myself an expert, but I think the problem with the mens team was the skip, Dave Murdoch. I never warmed to him at all and found him arrogant and dismissive. He never brought his best play to the party (if he genuinely is the best in the world) and missed crucial shots at key moments. The criticism he had of his team was clearly heard and I ended up not at all surprised that we did not win anything.

    By the way, I though the commentary by Steve Cram and Rona Martin was superb.

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  • 10. At 1:20pm on 25 Feb 2010, snowy_ajw wrote:

    There was no special reason for the defeats. Both teams, esp. Eve Muirhead, missed key shots at key times and that's what cost them.
    For the women it was the game against the USA that turned the tide - a shot up in the tenth with the hammer and they allowed the US to steal twice to win - from then on you just felt their confidence was shot.
    It doesn't need an inquest - they made mistakes, that happens in sport. Hopefully the funding remains so both teams can come back stronger in four years time.
    And hopefully someone builds a curling rink in Southern Britain - Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton, Reading, anywhere would do, just somewhere where people can participate - because the interest is clearly in place.

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  • 11. At 1:29pm on 25 Feb 2010, Grimandi wrote:

    why is Rhona Martin not coach? She would do a better job!

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  • 12. At 1:36pm on 25 Feb 2010, methilmilan wrote:

    Millhouserobinson: You start your post by stating "I know very little about Curling" and finish it by stating "...David Hay....his advice was catastrophic"

    Within 7 lines you've went from knowing nothing to being able to tell a multiple World Champion what advice he should have given.

    Maybe you should give the guy the respect he deserves, if you know nothing you won't have a clue whether it was the wrong call or poor execution that created the problem.

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  • 13. At 1:57pm on 25 Feb 2010, RubberNutz wrote:

    It's all about having the ability to perform on the big stage. Winning the world championship is a fine achievement but hardly done with the eyes of the world on you. It is this ability that truly marks you out as great in your chosen field.

    The same can be said for the bobsleders.

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  • 14. At 2:01pm on 25 Feb 2010, politeBoobie wrote:

    I agree with snowy-ajw.

    Personally, I didn't perceive the disunity suggested by the article or other posters, though I'm not saying it didn't occur.

    But, I do feel there is a sort of "they are World Champions and well-funded, so they must win" attitude. To me it's a sport, one of small margins and like any human activity things can go wrong. I imagine Murdoch and his team didn't get off the 'plane in Canada and think "oh, I know, we'll play completely differently and with a much poorer team spirit than we did when we won the worlds".

    Also, is there another sport where teams are miked-up as in curling? Maybe these sorts of interpersonal ups-and-downs happen in every sport, as they do in all jobs, it's just that we aren't usually privy to them?

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  • 15. At 2:04pm on 25 Feb 2010, RedFaction wrote:

    Just reading a few comments on here that seem to suggest that because, for example, the men's curling team didn't make the semi-final stage their funding should be cut.

    However people need to remember that whilst the Olympics are undoubtedly the biggest event in the calendar, they are not the be all and end all of the sport - let's remember that this team ARE the world champions and that is due in no small part to the extra funding they have received in the last few years which, amongst other things, has allowed the team to become full-time athletes.

    As for both teams' performances - I would say that our two teams were suffered from two fundamental problems;

    For the men it was poor shot selection - case in point being their last stone in the 10th end last night in the playoff. The shot they chose was questioned by Rhona Martin as being very high-risk, especially when they had a relatively easy draw to the other side to leave them lying two.

    The women, on the other hand, seemed to suffer from poor execution of their shots. For example, Eve Muirhead's last stone against the USA was incredibly poor given all she had to do was draw into the house. That was a game that they should never have lost but poor execution cost them.

    Yes both teams were poor and off their best but whatever you think about the teams we put out this Olympics, curling remains one of only a handful of sports in which Britain has a pedigree AND realistic chance of winning medals next time round. Drastic cuts to funding now could cause irreparable damage.

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  • 16. At 2:07pm on 25 Feb 2010, cameron murray wrote:

    Have thoroughly enjoyed the Olympic curling, both mens and womens tourneys.
    As a huge fan of the sport, all I can say is that the performances have simply not been good enough, especially from the men.

    It was there for all to see in Aberdeen at the Euros in Decemmber.
    That disappointment was hidden away in -"don't want to peak too early, blah blah blah"

    I wouldn't give Eve Muirhead stick - 19 years of age, triple world junior champ - she is the future.....

    At the end of the day, David Murdoch et al were simply not consistently good enough. Huge disappointment.

    But, not a waste of money - IMHO

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  • 17. At 2:14pm on 25 Feb 2010, Giggs' Left Peg wrote:

    Found myself getting really into the curling this week, been amazing to watch.

    I'm certainly no expert but to me, most teams, but not GB, were making the crucial shots when it really mattered. Its harsh on the mens team because if Dave Murdoch second last stone of the 10th end had rolled maybe 10 inches further, we would be looking forward to a semi-final versus the Canadians.

    As for the womens team, it's hard not to respect Eve Muirhead. A teenager, leading a country in the most prestigous event of them all -the olympics, is something to be admired. I think the pressure ultimately got to her. It's a great learning curve for her and hopefully she will be there in 2014.

    Also just have to say, Rhona Martin's commentary was absolutely superb. The banter between her and Steve Cram was always good value and her reading of the game was first class (not all together surprising since she is a gold medallist!). I hope to hear her commentating on many more matches in the future.

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  • 18. At 2:20pm on 25 Feb 2010, Giggs' Left Peg wrote:

    Loved the curling this week. Rhona Martin is an absolutely brilliant commentator. The banter between her and Steve was always good value and her reading and analysis of the game was brilliant (not surprising i guess since she is a gold medal winner!). BBC- sign her up full time!

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  • 19. At 2:25pm on 25 Feb 2010, Big Al wrote:

    There's no doubt that on their day they can beat anyone in the world. However, its been forgotten that Murdoch's team came fourth in the European championships in December behind Sweden, Switzerland and Norway. On the basis of that result the Olympic position is not a shock. Sweden and Switzerland have kept their better form and finished higher in the Olympics. It looks like Murdoch may have peaked too early in winning the Worlds a year ago. That raises questions about why all the coaching has taken the team backward in the last year?

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  • 20. At 2:37pm on 25 Feb 2010, Rabster wrote:

    The women's curling team were ranked 7th and finished 7th. Hardly a disgrace. The men as World Champions surely did under perform, these things happen in sport. The women's "two-man" bobsleigh team are also World Champs yet were lying in 10th after two runs and were well behind before their nasty crash in the the third run. No big inquest there.
    Why focus on curling rather than all performances?

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  • 21. At 2:58pm on 25 Feb 2010, lalaloon wrote:

    Tomarru

    I'm glad you are vocal about reducing the funding because your comment

    "Personally im in the camp, and am very vocal about it, that the funding should be cut. Lets be honest here, the funding is provided purely on the basis of results, and so far the only sport that has even come close, were in finals or challenged for a place, is the one event we took gold from, the womens luge. Every single other event has been pathetic, "

    Shows you do not know what you are talking about.

    GB won gold in the skeleton NOT the luge

    Post 12 methalmilan Spot on.
    I know nothing about curling either but have enjoyed the suspense and spirit in which all teams have played the games. I would not be so presumptuous to criticise players or coach.Eve Muirhead has many Olympics ahead of her and is David Murdoch the only World Champion not to win gold at these games?

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  • 22. At 3:38pm on 25 Feb 2010, Paul wrote:

    With regards to questions of funding for the 2014 Olympics I feel Britain really needs to take a long term view to winter sports rather than jumping on the bandwagon of currently successful athletes. Firstly we are not an Alpine nation so we should not spend a penny on skiing or snowboarding. A nation with a few dry ski slopes and snow domes is not going to produce future Olympic contenders. If someone wants to go over and have a go fine but not with funding. Were we should be looking at other non alpine nations who succeed in the games. Holland is a classic example. With a climate very similar to our own they brush everyone aside in the speed skating. However if we make investments now you cant expect results until 10 to 15 years down the line. I feel sorry for the British short track skaters who are coming under fire for supposedly under achieving; because they are not. In the north west of England there are 4 rinks, in the north east 2 and in Wales only 2. With a lack of facilities you can't expect to produce enough talent to challenge Korea and the Netherlands. In addition the only sports most young people in Britain participate in are Football and Rugby. The many who are limited at those 2 sports are often kept out of sport all together. There is nothing stopping schools catering for those excluded. In London there are over 7 rinks. It would be fascinating to learn how much the local educational authority makes use of the facilities available. Until Britain realizes the potential of the forgotten majority in the school system the winter Olympics will always be a spectacle rather than a realistic medal chance to spectators.

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  • 23. At 3:42pm on 25 Feb 2010, ShavedLegs wrote:

    Agree with Post 5. (Forrad83), dropping funding now just sets the game back further and makes it even less likely that we'll have any success in future. There is a lot of criticsm in Scotland for the funding that goes to the elite players. Sadly this is mostly based on a mixture of jealousy, a desire to live in the amatuer past of the game where no-one should work differently to the grass roots level and a total ignorance of what it takes to perform at the world level.
    The performances were very disappointing - a lack of intensity and consistency, coupled with some suicidal shot selections. The double Murdoch went for in the 4th end looked physically impossible to me, and choosing to blamk the 9th when there were stones in play left the whole game hanging on the 10th where their luck ran out. The Olympics have come a year too late for team GB. Last year they were at teh peak of their form to win the world title, but this season they've struggled from early on and despite a late improvement they haven't hit the same heights.
    The BBC commentary really was the last straw for me last night. Steve Cram has done ok, given he doesn't know a lot about the game and has never played it. As much as I like Rhona her blinkered optimism and lack of strategic insight were getting quite annoying by the end. Maybe BBC should have thought about getting one of the many Canadian pros who do some pretty colourful work on their TV commentary.

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  • 24. At 3:50pm on 25 Feb 2010, Jimmy McNulty- The voice of reason wrote:

    The Winter Olympics...all i can think is; "Why?".

    The BBC must have spent millions on this rubbish, 'Team GB' targetted a paltry 3 golds, all they've done so far is win 1!

    How can the BBC justify the coverage of the WO?

    They can't. It's a waste of money.

    I'd rather the money they have WASTED was put towards coverage of other sports like boxing etc, I am the only person i know who has even had a passive interest in the WO!

    No one cares about it, and no wonder, we are hopeless at winter olympics.

    Summed up brilliantly by Chemmy Alcott. What a useless 'olympian'. Says gold is a viable target....then finishes 15th!

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  • 25. At 3:51pm on 25 Feb 2010, playunextyear wrote:

    The blog says that the funding included psychologists. If the stories about niggles among the team"mates" are true, then these people didn't do their job in helping the skips to build a unit with discipline and a single purpose.

    From what I watched, there seem to have been at least two prima donnas in the women's team. I was puzzled from the start why Jackie Lockhart wasn't named as skip. Just because Eve Muirhead was thought to be a great shot maker (hmmm!) shouldn't mean she had to be skip. Other teams functioned okay with a skip who didn't play last stones. Without guidance that she was willing to accept, Eve ended up swinging between over-caution and reckless gambling.
    In the last decade we've seen at least three England cricketers lose their form once made captain, why should Scottish curlers be immune from that?

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  • 26. At 4:06pm on 25 Feb 2010, MarktheHorn wrote:

    "Whether we like it or not, these performances will certainly provide extensive fuel to the already-obvious fire in the bellies of those who want winter sports funding to be slashed"

    How would that help our Winter sport teams to improve and put on a better show?

    The reason "Team GB" did so well in the Summer Olympics last time was because of the increased funding certain sports got following previous successful games whereas other "minor" sports that didn't do so well get nothing and little chance to improve.

    If funding was cut then we will continue to be poor in everything but Skeleton with the hope that somehow other people/teams can bring an unlikely medal?

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  • 27. At 4:11pm on 25 Feb 2010, Nick wrote:

    The performances have been shocking. Why can other countries perform when it matters no matter if they are young or old and we can't. Hopefully people will get over the "it's the taking part that counts" attitude as this a lot of the comments seem to think.

    Why didn't the coaches either change the teams around or sub players for different games. If someone is having a shocking game then maybe you need to drop them. It's the Olympic Games. The biggest event for them ever and if they can't get up for that then they shouldn't be funded for the long term.

    With the women team you could tell there was tension in the team and it seemed no one did anything about it. As for people saying Eve is only young and is one for the future I am in disbelief of their attitude. Yes she has experience and is a very good player but you don't always have to give the captain to best player as sometimes that holds them back. It seemed she just choked.

    I'm not sure what happened to the mens either. They also underperformed hugely as well. Hopefully in a month or two there can be a full enquiry about what went on and fix it.

    I don't think curling should lose it's funding just yet but with all the support staff they had someone needs to see why they weren't fired up!!

    It's not just the curling either. I'm sure if Amy Williams had won the Gold in the Skeleton then the British media would be going on about how poorly we have done again.

    I do agree with everyone that has said Rhona Martin did a fantastic job in the commentary.

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  • 28. At 4:34pm on 25 Feb 2010, Nick wrote:

    24. At 3:50pm on 25 Feb 2010, Jimmy McNulty wrote:

    The BBC must have spent millions on this rubbish, 'Team GB' targetted a paltry 3 golds,
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have to tell you that you are incorrect. Team GB targeted 3 medals. No one mentioned 3 gold medals.

    I'm pleased the BBC spent money on the Winter Olympics but some of the commentary has been appalling and as they have no idea what they are talking about.

    It's just a shame that our athletes can't either perform to their ability or in some cases over perform and win. But you have to say well done to Amy.

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  • 29. At 4:44pm on 25 Feb 2010, Dazza wrote:

    Sorry Lalaloon, i did mean skeleton, i have in fact been up most nights watching the events and did happen to watch the entireity of the skeleton and luge. It was just a simple typo between 2 events that are largely similar.

    I have also been watching the WO since 2002, which is when i really started getting back into sport again, usually its only events that have some home contingent involved, however this year for some reason I have branched out to watching most events to some degree. Thats why the extra disappointment has grown for me, just seeing the HUGE disparity across ALL events. Either we have no competitors, or the competitors we do have are so poor they finish so far down the leaderboard it makes little difference that they are there at all. As i said, i wouldn't mind that so much if they funded themselves, but they don't, it's the same feeling I have seeing the BBC have such a large contingent out there for such poor coverage at a cost exceeding what was spent getting our athletes there.

    It doesn't help either when the athletes are being hyped up so much, practically every GB athlete has been "on for gold", either nailed on or definately medalling with a possibility of gold. If the BBC and the athletes themselves had a little bit of humility (which is something Amy Williams had in spades actually) then it may be a little more palatable.
    Don't say they're reigning world champions if they have been bested in recent competition etc.

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  • 30. At 4:44pm on 25 Feb 2010, MarktheHorn wrote:

    Well that is a good point Jim makes..

    There is just a lack of interest in these games which also means we'll never be that great.

    The top sports are football,cricket and rugby but even they have their own problems when it comes to bringing through young talent and success on the WORLD stage.

    Ok the rugby guys did in the World Cup in 2003...

    We all know about 1966 and all that...I'm not holding my breath for success this summer..

    The fact its on the BBC is a different matter...a lot of people who do enjoy the game have been complaining its not on enough compared to the summer version.

    As for Boxing...not for me but maybe because we hardly hear it and seem to have some very average boxers now.

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  • 31. At 4:49pm on 25 Feb 2010, alwaysindoubt wrote:

    It was disappointing, especially as the format of the competition all but removes the element of fortune - after 9 games of several hours playing every other team you finish where you deserve. I think it is wrong to compare this to something like the Bobsleigh where a split second mistake can end your chances.

    There was clearly a problem with the dynamics of the women's team especially, I didn't notice it so much with the men. I felt quite sorry for Eve Muirhead, who didn't seem to be getting much respect and support for her skip role from her teammates. As someone posted above, if there was a problem with other people wanting to be the skip, the psychologists should have been on top of it.

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  • 32. At 4:50pm on 25 Feb 2010, Rupert P Matley wrote:

    'As much as I like Rhona her blinkered optimism and lack of strategic insight were getting quite annoying by the end.'

    Blinkered optimism and lack of strategic insight, huh? I doubt Rhona would have got her Olympic gold in 2002 with those qualities, somehow.

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  • 33. At 5:10pm on 25 Feb 2010, lalaloon wrote:

    Post 24 (Jimmy McNulty)

    Was this a waste of money because GB have only won one gold medal? It happens once every 4 years and some people enjoy the sport, not just the British competitors.

    If the BBC only covered successful British sports teams, there would be a lot of time to fill on the BBC.
    Scottish and Welsh viewers would never see another game of football.

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  • 34. At 5:22pm on 25 Feb 2010, MarktheHorn wrote:

    "It doesn't help either when the athletes are being hyped up so much, practically every GB athlete has been "on for gold", either nailed on or definately medalling with a possibility of gold"

    That is the problem our press can create.

    High expectations and false hopes of great success and then ofcourse when such feats don't happen its all doom and gloom!

    Don't know if your a footie fan but it will the usual hype and media over-load for the World cup before the usual "mourning" as England "fail" to win.

    Andy Murray will probably be the same.

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  • 35. At 5:23pm on 25 Feb 2010, TimTheBoffin wrote:

    I'm also new to watching curling and really enjoyed the games. I'm not new to watching sport though and agree with the comments about the management of the teams, especially the women. Eve Muirhead being skip and playing last stones as the junior member of the team clearly didn't work out. She must have felt under enormous pressure to make the right call all the time, and then to play the big shots as well, with the others looking on. Once things started to go down hill she lost confidence and they seemed to lose confidence in her. Hardly suprising. Surely one or other of these pressure roles would have been plenty for her? Even worse, once the tournament was under way the coaches obviously didn't feel they were able to change things around, even though it was so clearly needed. Presumably they didn't want to undermine Eve, having put her in charge. Understandable but easily avoidable also.

    Loved Rona's expert comments, but please get rid of Steve Cram - nothing wrong with him learning on the job, but as a newcomer his constant deriding of the other teams when they missed a shot was excruciatingly embarrassing. Especially as they kept coming back and beating the Brits! He claimed to enjoy the sporting atmosphere of curling, but clearly didn't understand it.

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  • 36. At 5:37pm on 25 Feb 2010, viennesewaltzing wrote:

    Why wasn't Jackie Lockhart made skip, Eve could have still played fourth to make crucial shots but with Jackie who has so much experience behind her making the final decisions. Three junior titles is one thing, the coaching team know the Olympic stage is on a different level . . . maybe they wanted the press attention a young, blonde skip would bring, and yes I am cynical! Eve is undoubtedly a fantastic player who could bring a lot to future teams, but a builder of team spirit as skip? Not sure about that. Fine for her to say she'll have plenty of future chances, what about the others! And I read that despite Rhona being on the coaching team for the juniors last year, Eve has never asked her for advice? You get the chance to ask the gold winning skip for advice and you don't think you need it, ok . . .

    I want to join with everyone who's posted about Rhona's fantastic commentary, best thing about the curling for me! Hope she reads all the support for her and that she'll be back again in the future. And thanks for the 'stone of destiny' clip on this site, brought a lump to my throat. What a moment when Rhona and her team won gold!

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  • 37. At 5:40pm on 25 Feb 2010, lalaloon wrote:

    Most of the over hyping is due to the achievements of the competitors. Mens curling are World Champions as are the women's 2 (wo)man bob team. It's not unreasonable to expect better performances from them. Amy Williams was probably unheard of by most people due to Shelly Rudmans success in Turin yet she managed to win Gold. Is it down to coping with pressure.

    I think funding should be increased rather than withdrawn. Better facilities for curling, speed skating, and more spread out across the country would broaden the appeal and availability.
    If the athletes have the ability to be the world's best which some of them clearly have, maybe the coaching/support staff should be the ones that need to be changed.

    Quite often the manager is responsible for a teams poor performance but this doesn't seem to be the case for TEAM GB

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  • 38. At 5:43pm on 25 Feb 2010, xenosys2005 wrote:

    I don't agree that every single GB athlete has been hyped up with expectations of grabbing a medal.

    In the Skeleton, Rudman was expected to at least medal, and Williams was barely given a passing thought by the BBC and hacks in the press, until her first run was complete. Kristan Bromley was expected to put up a good showing and possibly grab a medal, and finished 5th-6th, which is about par. Adam Pengilly is a World silver medalist and was expected to finish higher than 20th.

    Our bobsled two-some last night are World Champions, but overall they've had a fairly average season in the World Cup and as a result are in about 10-12th place. I suppose a medal was a realistic prospect but they hadn't been going all that swimmingly in training.

    Our female Curlers are 7th in the world and a medal was more in hope than expectation, but did still disappoint because they were in a winning position a number of times and still managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They also beat the World and European champions : China and Germany respectively and lost winnable ties. I still think the expectation surrounding the men was justified and they've under-performed and somehow the women were pulled into the hype surrounding the guys and lumped together as one unit.

    Other than that, I really can't think of any other British athlete that's been built-up in the press, only to then not deliver.

    3 medals was a realistic target. You can't expect much more with a budget of just 1.5% of the money invested in the Summer Games. Ultimately, you get what you pay for. It's a vicious cycle : without success you won't garner funds from the relevant bodies involved, and without funds you virtually eliminate the chance of success.

    Rhona's insight into the strategic world that is Curling has been a delight, and I'm glad they're still commentating on the other matches now that Team GB are out.

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  • 39. At 6:04pm on 25 Feb 2010, Paul wrote:

    The issue of funding is an interesting one. I agree that the curlers underperformed for the ammount money they received. Given that they got "significant" extra funding as well I think there should be a review of how funding is ultimately decided. I was a little dissappointed with Chemmy Alcott's attitude. She seemed more happy just being there and having fun rather than committing herself 100%. In her defence though if the stories about her having to fund £20,000 towards her training herself are true then there is something fundamentally wrong. It would be interesting to see the funding the British Biathletes or Cross country Skiers receive. But at least we have a national football stadium that only cost £800 million.

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  • 40. At 6:53pm on 25 Feb 2010, Presto West End wrote:

    The men are currently the fifth best in the world and the women seventh. If only our football teams were that good - maybe we should withdraw funding there!

    Also, the percieved niggling between the team members are only natural. Any team that is not playing well or to its true potential are bound to get frustrated and I attribute any offhand remarks to that. I think this point has only arisen due to the micropones allowing us to hear all the comments. I supsect that would be illuminating in any sport.

    As for the BBC, I have thoroughly enjoyed the coverage and especially the curling. Cram and Martin are to curling what Mitchell and Webb are to snooker.

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  • 41. At 6:55pm on 25 Feb 2010, watch_out wrote:

    I believe Eve was the skip as she won the Scottish Championships, and essentially won her right to skip the team. I stand corrected if I'm wrong!

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  • 42. At 6:55pm on 25 Feb 2010, York wrote:



    The Winter Olympics shouldn't be taken too seriously. They're nothing more than a sideshow to the Summer Olympics.

    It's almost as bad as the Commonwealth games, in the sense that it excludes the bulk of the world from participating on the basis of where they live.

    I enjoyed watching Amy Williams in her Lycra suit, but who genuinely found any interest in watching events such as ski jumping?

    Roll on London 2012, when the eyes of the world will really be watching.


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  • 43. At 8:00pm on 25 Feb 2010, Flodden wrote:

    There were more people from the BBC at the Games than the entire GB squad. So its funny people want to cut the funding for the sports but not the coverage.

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  • 44. At 8:19pm on 25 Feb 2010, hedropsforglory wrote:

    Comment 29: "It doesn't help either when the athletes are being hyped up so much, practically every GB athlete has been "on for gold", either nailed on or definately medalling with a possibility of gold. If the BBC and the athletes themselves had a little bit of humility (which is something Amy Williams had in spades actually) then it may be a little more palatable."

    Who said this about anyone, at any time? Watched and read almost all of it, never heard this once. Not once.

    "Don't say they're reigning world champions if they have been bested in recent competition etc."

    What, even if they ARE the reigning World Champions? The commentators should pretend that they are not??

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  • 45. At 8:33pm on 25 Feb 2010, logica_sine_vanitate wrote:

    Re: the British women's curling team...

    The seventh ranked team in the world finishing in joint sixth place at the Olympics doesn't look like failure to me. Perhaps someone would like to enlighten me as to how that constitutes "a flop"?

    Or is it more a case of media overreaction?

    Perhaps some of us are more interested in the sport itself, rather than viewing the sport as merely a vehicle to deliver national pride. What exactly is the funding for anyway - to develop the sport and the entertainment that goes with it or just to deliver medals - i.e. national bragging rights (big deal!)?

    Well done to Rhona Martin, BTW!

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  • 46. At 9:10pm on 25 Feb 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Yeesh, you guys are hard on your athletes.

    The women's rink was pretty good but came up tantalisingly short in a few games. Fine. They'll be better and stronger next time, and maybe they'll get a few lucky breaks next time to make up for the unlucky breaks they got this time.

    They have nothing to be ashamed of.

    And if the UK wants to cut funding (wha? Not fund curling? In Scotland?), I'm sure they'd find a good welcome to play here in Canada as much and as often as they like.

    There are enough expatriate English and Scots (and Irish and Welsh, be it said) in this country that they wouldn't lack for funding.

    Same thing for the men. Welcome to come and play anytime. Stay the whole winter if you like.

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  • 47. At 9:29pm on 25 Feb 2010, Peter Nairn wrote:

    When Rhona Martin threw that last winning stone to lift the gold medal the most of Scotland and possibly Britain, was watching and the buzz around the country was tremendous. Instead of investing in the sport ice rinks in the highlands were then closed - both Pitlochry and Brora have gone and no new facilities to replace them. Ice rinks need funding similar to swimming pools. If we are going to lift curling medals again we need new sponsored ice rinks and more young curlers entering the game. At present the game is almost finished in the highlands. Our curlers did their best this year and I was proud watching them but we need to support the game and get more youngsters involved so that we have a greater pool of talent for the future. This is a sport that Scotland and Britain can really compete in. We need help.

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  • 48. At 9:36pm on 25 Feb 2010, Alison Burns wrote:

    No disrespect to your curling knowledge Anna, but I think you will find that David Murdoch and his team are the CURRENT REIGNING world champions. Unfortunately this just has not been their week and things have not gone to plan - despite the teams hard efforts in training for these Olympics. The boys are absolutely devastated and this showed at the end of last night's hard fought tie-breaker.

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  • 49. At 11:00pm on 25 Feb 2010, red_mist wrote:

    I haven't read all comments so apologies if others have vented in similar vein. I love these games but, come on, curling is unremittingly tedious. It's repetitive, tactically thin with few real permutations - and endless. It's fine to slag off the commentators but, c'mon, they have to talk so b***** all happens - and because the BBC insists on using ex-sports people commentate on sport they never played as opposed to journalists, they are inevitably reduced to the evil of banality.

    If these games have been disastrous for the curlers (?) then they've been worse for the BBC, whose wall-to-wall coverage based on the forlorn hope of a GB medal has been little short of scandalous.

    I've really missed seeing some of the other sports, particularly with curling on BBC2 and 301 simulataneously. I'd even prefer to watch non-sports like Ice skating/dancing - that's how bad it is.

    In 4 years time, please adopt a more catholic and balanced approach to scheduling.

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  • 50. At 01:46am on 26 Feb 2010, Jimmy McNulty- The voice of reason wrote:

    If the BBC only covered successful British sports teams, there would be a lot of time to fill on the BBC.

    ---------------------------------------------


    Good! Everyone knows the BBC coverage and schedule is absolutely woeful, with money being wasted left right and centre.

    How can the BBC justify showing the WO, when at no other time of the year do they seriously cover the likes of bobsleigh, curling, shooting, luge etc.

    All they show that i can think of is 'Ski Sunday'.


    With track and field the BBC has coverage of various events, one being at Crystal Palace, but for WO events there is little to no exposure, and then they lump it on us every 4 years!

    Yes the WO is on the list of sporting events that are to be covered by terrestrial TV, but for me it is a waste considering the input that is put into winter sports by fundraisers, the government, and the coverage from the likes of the BBC.

    It's summed up perfectly by the fact that if you watch any sporting event on the BBC, they are in a nice cushty studio with nice chairs and a table, what do you get in the live coverage of the WO?

    I rest my case.

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  • 51. At 02:47am on 26 Feb 2010, Gavelaa wrote:

    Everytime I watched both men and women's teams play, they always made a hash of a good position. The women's team were quite abysmal in the main, with Muirhead, as good looking as she is, making numerous errors. The men's team also made similar mistakes.

    Curling is not a good sport, and it is not a complicated one. But staggeringly these top teams made so many mistakes that they can't even be considered good at it, so what's the point?

    I'd suggest that Great Britain re-analyses its funding structure. No way should curling, a peripheral sport to say the least, get so much money. We should be looking to develop our skiers if needs must - the quintesential element of these games. Curling is surely a sport that can be played cheaply on the icerinks that are available. The players need to practice harder and get better. They don't need more money to do this. Infact I'm sure they could fund it themselves. Curling should remain a fun hobby for those who partake in it. The only coverage it ever gets in the UK is every 4 years on the BBC when the Olympics are on. It is hardly gripping, not commercial in any way, is barely interesting to the casual sports fan let alone the general public and frankly should be treated with the same merit as other small ice sports. It is good that people in Britain play it, but don't take it too seriously. It is the ice version of bowls, and that really is a dire sport. But even then you can get a tiny bit of it on TV as there remains a small audience for it in the UK, and so justifiably it is shown every so often on the BBC. I can see curling getting the same sort of attention, but because it is an Olympic sport, trying to show it when it is not the Olympics will be hard to gather the viewer in.

    As for Eve Muirhead, she sounds like she's quite good at golf, so maybe she could try that more seriously. It would be an utter waste of four years should she pursue a curling dream to the next Olympics. She is a girl who could get a lot of attention in magazines, should she do something more mainstream with her life. Keep up the hobby by all means, I understand how the game could be fun, but where will it get her in the long run? The chances of her winning a gold at the next Olympics are slim anyway. There will always be strong competition from the traditional winter sports countries.

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  • 52. At 03:37am on 26 Feb 2010, Arnie_Aardvark wrote:

    The men's team maybe World Champions, but they didn't play like it at these games. Several times they played questionable tactics which lead to defeats including those against Canada and Sweden in the playoff. If as Rhona had said David Murdoch had played his penultimate stone to the opposite side of the house, this would have left the UK lying three. Yes, the Swedes could have played the double takeout, but this would still have left us lying one with the hammer to play and needing a simple draw for two and win the game.

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  • 53. At 05:27am on 26 Feb 2010, Over_40_Crowd wrote:

    Simple. Both teams lacked chemistry. Keeping your cool and teamwork are vital to curling and both teams failed on both accounts.

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  • 54. At 09:12am on 26 Feb 2010, lalaloon wrote:

    post 50 Jimmy McNulty

    It's summed up perfectly by the fact that if you watch any sporting event on the BBC, they are in a nice cushty studio with nice chairs and a table, what do you get in the live coverage of the WO?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Do you watch F1. The presenters stand around in the paddock. No studio for them.

    If you don't like the coverage, how about this for an idea.

    TURN THE TELLY OFF.

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  • 55. At 09:16am on 26 Feb 2010, Rupert P Matley wrote:

    'I enjoyed watching Amy Williams in her Lycra suit, but who genuinely found any interest in watching events such as ski jumping?'

    I did. Fortunately there are many of us whose minds haven't narrowed to one the size of the eye of a needle.

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  • 56. At 12:48pm on 26 Feb 2010, Nick wrote:

    46. At 9:10pm on 25 Feb 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    Yeesh, you guys are hard on your athletes.

    The women's rink was pretty good but came up tantalisingly short in a few games. Fine. They'll be better and stronger next time, and maybe they'll get a few lucky breaks next time to make up for the unlucky breaks they got this time.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have to disagree totally with you. Some of these guys are what you call professional athletes and it is their full time job.

    I did not see any unlucky breaks we had. Curling is a skill sport and not anything to do with luck. If they missed hitting a stone by an inch then they either misjudged, didn't sweep or swept too much. Other countries stepped up and performed. We just bottled it in the curling.

    With the skiers I can understand a bit as to why it was a bad games. It was the skiing body in the UK going into administration just before the games and yes a lot of coaches and skiers did help fund things throughout the year but it is still not a great result for them.

    I do agree with a few comments that the coverage has been substandard. Commentary in some sports like biathlon have been appalling with very little knowledge and stating the obvious all the time whilst repeating it numerous times!!! Surely if they know they will be commentating on a sport you watch it for at least the season before the Olympics.

    I also agree that there were a few occasions that things were on the BBC2 and the red button at the same time. One thing that the BBC failed to see was that if you have Freeview then you don't get all the red button options for channels. Surely someone in the technical department should have known that!!!

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  • 57. At 1:59pm on 26 Feb 2010, G wrote:

    How come now they are losers they are British again???? when they won four years ago they were Scottish!!! now even the Scottish press, such as The Scotsman are calling them British again, confused?

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  • 58. At 2:08pm on 26 Feb 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    51. At 02:47am on 26 Feb 2010, Gavelaa wrote:

    "Everytime I watched both men and women's teams play, they always made a hash of a good position. The women's team were quite abysmal in the main, with Muirhead, as good looking as she is, making numerous errors. The men's team also made similar mistakes."

    "Curling is not a good sport, and it is not a complicated one. But staggeringly these top teams made so many mistakes that they can't even be considered good at it, so what's the point?"

    56. At 12:48pm on 26 Feb 2010, Nick_Hove_Actually wrote:

    "I have to disagree totally with you. Some of these guys are what you call professional athletes and it is their full time job.

    I did not see any unlucky breaks we had. Curling is a skill sport and not anything to do with luck. If they missed hitting a stone by an inch then they either misjudged, didn't sweep or swept too much. ...."

    __________

    Have either of you ever actually curled?
    Do you have any idea what you are talking about?

    "Curling is not a good sport, and it is not a complicated one."

    "Curling is a skill sport and not anything to do with luck."

    Wow.

    Curling is a very clever sport, and it is a skill sport. It involves a great deal of strategy, and takes very subtle skill and experience at reading the ice.

    But if you think it is easy to throw a 40 lb rock over a pebbled ice surface, on a desired curve, and have it end up within an inch of where you want it to lie, 72 (or more) feet away, then you should try it some time.

    When that rock is released, you do not know where it is going to end up. You hope that you have a good general idea - but I can tell you that in a lifetime of observing curling at the highest level, even the best players in this game aren't sure. A good deal of the strategy in the game lies in figuring out what might go wrong, reducing that uncertainty, and playing a higher percentage shot.

    You don't think so?

    Just try making a free draw to the button as a practice shot.
    Now try doing it on both the inturn and the outturn.
    Now try doing it 20 times in a row.

    How much broom should the skip give the stone? Well, that depends on the freshness of the pebble, the temperature of the ice, and the humidity in the building. Have rocks been played on that part of the sheet already? Do you know how much it is going to swing? Does it swing consistently across the sheet? Or is the ice "snakey"? Is the rock going to curl, or is it going to hang up? How fast, or slow, is this ice? Is the ice fast on one side, and slow on the other?

    How much weight is the skip calling for?
    How much weight do you need to get around the guard; contact the stone you want to contact, move it whatever distance you want to move it, and in the direction you want to move it; and then roll just enough to get your own stone behind cover?

    Can you deliver that weight and line consistently and with precision in the tenth end, the same way as you could in the first end?

    How much should you turn the rock to make it curl as you release it?
    Have you delivered the rock on the right line?
    Does the rock need to be swept?
    When should the sweeping start?
    How hard should they sweep?
    Should you call them off?

    If you think this is easy, then you try it some time.

    There is a high level of skill involved in this game, and when you see Kevin Martin or Randy Furby on TV making it look easy, just keep in mind that these guys are the Wayne Rooneys, David Beckhams, and Franz Beckenbauers of this sport.

    As for guys who play professionally, no, not so much.

    In curling, the only country where that is even close to being possible is Canada. Yet even in Canada Randy Furby was criticized a few years ago because he was, allegedly, making it a full time job. Everybody else had a real job to pay the bills.

    How good are the rinks that play for the Brier?

    Well, the best guys have a skill level that is comparable to guys who can run 147 in snooker, or consistently hit centuries in international cricket, or have consistent below par scores at major PGA events.

    Now do you understand?

    Here's a different example:
    Canada has about 40 or 50 different men's rinks, and perhaps almost as many women's rinks, that play at an high enough level to have had a reasonable shot at representing Canada at the Olympics and winning the gold. On any given day any of these rinks can beat any other. With that kind of depth, if it were purely skill, Canada ought to win every international curling competition, men or women, at every age group, every time. But they don't. Not even close. Of course not.

    You have to accept that supposedly "weaker" teams from other countries may win because on any given day, that's just how it is. And are they really "weaker" teams? Well, maybe over the long haul. But this is just one bonspiel, and maybe those "weaker" teams are "stronger" on the day, or on the week. Well, accept it, be a good sport, and congratulate them on their success.

    Yes, there is skill to it, and most often a better team ought to beat a weaker team. But not always. There is a certain amount of luck, and it often depends on how well you read the ice - which involves a more than a fair bit of intuition. And sometimes it just isn't your day.

    This is a great, subtle and very sociable sport.

    You guys are being way too hard on your teams.

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  • 59. At 2:08pm on 26 Feb 2010, Jimmy McNulty- The voice of reason wrote:

    Do you watch F1. The presenters stand around in the paddock. No studio for them.

    If you don't like the coverage, how about this for an idea.

    TURN THE TELLY OFF.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Only teenagers say that, as soon as i turned 20 i stopped saying that, because i knew it was fundamentally flawed.

    If it was ITV, C4, Five etc then yes, i would turn off. But it's the BBC, so i watch to see how badly things are being run seen as people pay the licence fee for this garbage!

    And what has that got to do with the price of fish? The reason they stand in the paddock is for the 'atmosphere', although half the time you cannot hear what they are saying. You think the producers would have cotttoned on to this simple observation but it doesn't look like it.

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  • 60. At 5:53pm on 26 Feb 2010, logica_sine_vanitate wrote:

    #49 - red_mist -

    "I love these games but, come on, curling is unremittingly tedious. It's repetitive, tactically thin with few real permutations - and endless."

    Curling is only tedious to people who don't understand the game, and who make no effort to appreciate it.

    As for "repetitive", well, what exactly are you asking for? I think every sport would be "repetitive" according to your definition. I assume running or skating around a track must be sheer agony for you to watch, because if that is not a "repetitive" activity, I'm afraid that I fail to understand what the word "repetitive" could possibly mean!

    As for your "tactically thin with few real permutations" comment, all I can offer by way of rejoinder is that fine and expressive phrase from the East End of London: "you're 'aving a larff, ain't ya?!!"

    Just try to make a comment about something you know something about. Freedom of speech is great; ignorance is not.

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  • 61. At 6:26pm on 26 Feb 2010, Alex wrote:

    51. At 02:47am on 26 Feb 2010, Gavelaa wrote:

    "As for Eve Muirhead, she sounds like she's quite good at golf, so maybe she could try that more seriously. It would be an utter waste of four years should she pursue a curling dream to the next Olympics. She is a girl who could get a lot of attention in magazines, should she do something more mainstream with her life. Keep up the hobby by all means, I understand how the game could be fun, but where will it get her in the long run? The chances of her winning a gold at the next Olympics are slim anyway. There will always be strong competition from the traditional winter sports countries."

    _________________


    Have you actually taken into account the fact that 'attention in magazines' might not be what Eve Muirhead wants?

    It's been a disappointing campaign on both sides, however the Women's campaign really did go according to rank. I can't help but feel that people expected far too much from a 19-year old debut Olympiad, for whom this was far more about development and learning than anything else. She's a fantastic player with immense potential, and come 2014, with a stable team around her, those lofty expectations might just be a little more warranted.

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  • 62. At 7:39pm on 26 Feb 2010, Gavelaa wrote:

    When I say not a complicated one, I see it as being like Snooker. Snooker requires a huge amount of skill, but essentially the game is not complicated. The rules are simple, and it's down to how good you are, not overly based on strategy or tactics. There is a tactical element to curling, but you'd think the number of games they play they can't be suprised too ofted.

    As for Eve Muirhead, she is fit, and would get some serious dongo by modelling in magazines. I reckon she should do that more.

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  • 63. At 7:44pm on 26 Feb 2010, red_mist wrote:

    #60 - logica_sine_vanitate

    Shame that you don't get it. The logical reductio ad aburdum of your position seems to me to be that only those who understand a sport are allowed to enjoy it. To such an obvious afficionado as you, all these subtelties may leap from the ice in splendid technicolor but for the newcomer they simply don't.

    It's not a great television sport, simple as that. I am a fanatical bridge player and I wallow in all the brilliancies of a great exponent. But it's rubbish on tv. You have to wait too long and study too hard for it to reveal all its beauties.

    Curling is a long and slowly-unravelling sport which only becomes interesting at the end of an end, so to speak. It would be perfect for edited highlights but not for real-time broadcasting.

    My point was that the BBC over-egged it merely because there was hope for a domestic medal - and did so at the price of other great sporting spectacles, ones with a dynamism and excitement that is hardly the stuff of Curling.

    And as for your last paragraph, well isn't this a forum for all kinds of opinions and impressions, rather than one for apparent experts?

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  • 64. At 8:30pm on 26 Feb 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    62. At 7:39pm on 26 Feb 2010, Gavelaa wrote:

    "When I say not a complicated one, I see it as being like Snooker. Snooker requires a huge amount of skill, but essentially the game is not complicated. The rules are simple, and it's down to how good you are, not overly based on strategy or tactics. There is a tactical element to curling, but you'd think the number of games they play they can't be suprised too ofted."

    __________

    Snooker not "overly based on strategy or tactics"?

    You must be joking.

    There is a ton of strategy in snooker - and, coincidentally, the strategic considerations in snooker are not unlike those in curling - not leaving a good lie for your opponent, trying to leave the balls (or stones, as may be) in a position where the opponent can't see the object ball (or stone) clearly or hit it cleanly. Figuring out what is "safe", and what kind of hit and roll you want, at what kind of angle.

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  • 65. At 8:41pm on 26 Feb 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    63. At 7:44pm on 26 Feb 2010, red_mist wrote:

    "Curling is a long and slowly-unravelling sport which only becomes interesting at the end of an end, so to speak. It would be perfect for edited highlights but not for real-time broadcasting."
    __________

    I take it then, that you don't like cricket or American baseball on TV either? Or Golf?

    Look, we love hockey, too, and it is about as fast and furious a sport as there is. But that isn't the beauty of curling. Watching curling on TV is more like watching the Masters from Augusta. The play is stately. The commentators speak in hushed voices. The strategic situation unfolds slowly.

    Yes, curling is slowly unravelling, but that's part of the enjoyment. They mull over the shot. Then there is the suspense as the stone comes down the ice. The stones move, the result is considered. Then they mull over the next shot.

    Great TV?
    It's sublime.

    Would you gulp down a pint of Guinness in one swallow? Or do you sip it slowly as you proceed to sink a colour, then another red, then another colour?

    In a world that is far too impatient, there are some things that are best savoured slowly. Curling is one of them, and we have huge TV audiences for the Brier.

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  • 66. At 9:16pm on 26 Feb 2010, red_mist wrote:

    Re 65, I take your point - but only up to a point. The fact is that the permutations for the eye in a round of golf or a day's cricket are multiple. Golf, in particular, is an invidious comparison because there are, invarriably, multiple matches to watch and the camera can cut from pair to pair playing in frequently beautiful landscapes.

    It's not only a question of the longeurs of Curling but its visual two-dimensionality, the arid environment and lack of atmosphere.

    I don't play golf or cricket but the quality of the commentary taken with the visual diversity combine to make a televisual spectacle.

    Clearly, you're a devotee of Curling. You love the sport. I don't. I'm sure, like, any sport, if you play it, you love it. My point has been that the BBC needs to balance its coverage and needs to deliver quality commentary. It did neither of these relying, presumably, on an assumed patriotism and the hope of a medal to divert attention to over-kill on the coverage and under-skill on the commentary.

    Enjoy your passion. I'd prefer electrolysis to remove my curlies than an evening of curling.

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  • 67. At 9:44pm on 26 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    As an American whose team finished dead last in the standings, my comments probably won't bear much weight. I was a little surprised to learn that Women Team GB was formed by selecting the best players. Women Team USA was formed by selecting the best team (some who have played together with the same foursome for years).

    From what I've seen in curling to date, it looks as if the concept of team cohesiveness should take precedence over all other factors. Knowing that you have the full faith, trust, and chemistry with your other teammates seems just as important, if not more so, than being able to "make the shots".

    I'm not completely convinced if it's possible to put together a team of handpicked, alpha-male/female players and make them gel with great chemistry in a 2-3 yr period.

    From what I read, Women Team GB had 3 players who are used to skipping their own teams (Muirhead, Wood, Lockhart). Even an American like me could see the tension amongst those 3 great players when they were competing against Women Team USA. I'm honestly not surprised that there was some discord on Women Team GB, given the number of former skips on one team.

    While Women Team USA came in last, we Americans were not surprised with how much they truly enjoyed playing with each other (given the many years that they had already done so). They were miked as well, and all we heard was how they kept encouraging each other and supporting each other. It really helped in our coming back and winning against Team GB.

    Finally, we thought it was a classy act for Women Team USA's skip (McCormick) to remove herself and swap places with the third (Pottinger) when McCormick wasn't doing so well. Granted, she should have done it sooner, but the fact that she volunteered to do it speaks volumes.

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  • 68. At 02:50am on 27 Feb 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    66. "Play Misty For Me"

    As a coda, there was a real cracker of a game this evening. Canada lost, which is disappointing. It was a great game nonetheless, with the lead and momentum changing hands several times. It went into extra ends, and was decided on the very last stone - a miss by the Canadian Skip.

    No atmosphere? The crowd held its breath on those last two ends. The Drama? Excitement? It doesn't get much better.

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  • 69. At 2:42pm on 27 Feb 2010, Korrie wrote:

    68 - Interested Foreigner - I totally agree. It was a wonderful game of curling that that oodles of nerve jangling moments. I'm sure Cheryl Bernard will be gutted with her two missed opportunities and it would be interesting to see how the Canadian media are reacting to the loss.

    It was also great having Eve Muirhead, albeit far too briefly, in the commentary box. She clearly has a great knowledge and love of the game. My sister and I were discussing the merits of having Eve lead the team but after hearing her insight and passion for the game, im even more convinced she was the right person to skip team GB. She was also discussing the selection process and was more in favour of a Canadian play-off idea although she did concede that the Canadian game has far more strength and depth that the British/Scottish game. Hopefully some of the issues in chemistry that were apparent in these games will not be the same in 2014 and the British team will be more like the USA in their approach (as 67 - bankergolfer commented on).

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  • 70. At 4:49pm on 27 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I just read that Womens Team GB really started playing together as a team as recently as May 2009. I also learned that they came in 6th place with a "sub-par" performance (5 wins; 4 losses) in the European Championships in late 2009.

    If that is true, I think it really demonstrates that the team may not have had enough time to really develop a rapport / chemistry with each other.

    If Eve Muirhead is the future of Women Team GB (and from what we can see in the USA, she should be), they should let her have a say (or perhaps full control) over who should be in her rink.

    As some of the Women Team USA players have said, they have played together for so long that they knew precisely what they needed from each other without having to think too much about it (i.e. natural reactions in an instantaneous manner). As for women Team USA's chemistry, the second is getting married in summer 2010, and ALL her rink-mates are her bridesmaids. Talk about being close with each other!

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  • 71. At 6:56pm on 27 Feb 2010, fairplayer wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 72. At 7:24pm on 27 Feb 2010, Alex wrote:

    Re: 70

    I believe the lack of any real collective playing time for our Women's team has to go down to the fact that Muirhead has been primarily competing at the Junior level. I seem to remember she said yesterday that she plans to play out her final Junior year this year before taking the step-up full-time after that - that should still give her and whoever her team turn out to be a good 3 seasons of joint competition prior to 2014.

    That is, if she's the planned centrepiece of our Curling future, as I hope she will be.

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  • 73. At 8:01pm on 27 Feb 2010, fairplayer wrote:

    I enjoyed the early stages of GB's men and womens curling enormously. However cracks started to appear and the teams cohesion melted away. The lack of communication between players became more and more pronounced and that became a big problem. The communication problem within the women's team was gradual, with the men I don't think communication really existed from the outset. This is a strategy came, like chess, thinking three or four moves ahead and involving all team members in the decision making and constantly updating each other as each game develops.
    At that level it is no good Murdoch complaining that a stone was an inch away or that it was over-brushed. Why was it an inch away? If it ended up being over-brushed why wasn't action taken to stop the brushing while the stone was still in play?
    The team is led 'top down and Murdoch did not demonstrate leadership or payability. Eve Muirhead, was an inexperienced skip, but she really did her best. Regrettably, it wasn't good enough. The saddest thing is that no one person, in either the women or men's team actually stood out as being 'on form', skillful and likeable. They were all in 'another day at the office' mode.
    Take away their funding. A big and emphatic 'no'. There are some good players in there and I expect there are other players in the wings who wll potentially be a serious challenge for a place in Team GB curling 2014. Don't give up on them please. Oh, and whoever decided to 'mike-up' the players, retract that decision so that the players can be encouraged to open up on the sheet.
    Rhona Martin, a fantastic commentator and personality, who obviously knows the sport inside out. I wish I could say the same for Steve Cram who was a complete embarrasment. He was ill prepared to commentate on a sport that he was not familiar with, which meant that he had to repeatedly get help from Rhona. If he didn't know about the game he should either not have been there (my preferred choice) and left Rhona to deal with it herself, or he should have been clued up about the sport well in advance of the Olympics. Good at athletics yes, curling very bad indeed.
    A couple of further issues with Cram; I think it was the second end of the women's fourth game when Cram announced that the women were suffering a "mini crisis". Rhona Martin took him to task in a nice but firm way, and said "Steve it's only the second end". But that's how he was, very negative throughout and always talking the British teams down. The final point is, who at the BBC allowed Cram to have his athletic 'chums' in the commentary box whilst games were in progress? We had Carl Lewis and found out what he had been doing, how his Foundation was coming along and some free advertising for his business interests. Whilst Lewis was in the commentary box, Rhona Martin was silent, I assume because there was nowhere for her to sit.
    A few days later, we met Paula Radcliffe who had popped over from the US to see the Olympics. So we learned about what she was up to and it emerged she was on a 'jolly' from the UK and that evening was flying back to the US to give a speech to the great and the good and trying to encourage them to come to the UK in 2012 for the Summer Olympics. Could I have that job please - I am qualified, although I do not have a gold trinkets from marathons. Paula said that she was not continuing with the PR bit but would be concentrating on her medal chances.
    This time Rhona was in the commentary box but, every time Rhona tried to get the chat back to the curling and she made a much needed comment on the game, Cram continually said "What Rhona is saying......" which I assumed was for the benefit of Paula Radcliffe. What Rhona was saying did not require interpretation from him, or anyone else. Had Rhona suddenly started speaking Swedish?
    In the end I watched the curling with the sound off. Problem solved. Top marks Rhona, shame about your friend!
    Outside of curling the BBC coverage was very good.
    One final final point. I think Sir Steve Redgrave is reported to have said about his idea of a centre of excellence for speed skating, curling etc. "Build it - You get medals". Team GB curling men and women had facilities, coaching, funding, full time training. No medals. Is Sir Steve's view not a bit simplistic? Or what happened to Teams GB?

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  • 74. At 8:13pm on 27 Feb 2010, logica_sine_vanitate wrote:

    #63 - red_mist -

    "Shame that you don't get it. The logical reductio ad aburdum of your position seems to me to be that only those who understand a sport are allowed to enjoy it."

    OK, point taken. Perhaps I did overreact to your comments about curling. Apologies for that.

    But surely you've got to admit that your "tactically thin" idea just cannot apply to "chess on ice" as curling has been dubbed.

    Some people may perhaps think that blanking ends and taking out stones is boring, but this is somewhat similar to exchanges in chess in order to achieve a positional advantage. The lie of the stones can dramatically change on one throw, which I find fascinating. There are subtle and delicate draws as well as dramatic take-outs. The whole game is dependent on tactical nous, as well as precision of weight, line, rotation and, of course, sweeping, for which teamwork and physical fitness is required.

    This is very much a spectator sport - as long as we have an informative commentary (which I feel Rhona Martin did provide). I hope we can see more of this sport before the next winter Olympics.

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  • 75. At 8:59pm on 27 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    Thank you to all who have shared what the BBC coverage and comments (especially from Rhona Martin) were like. It's been fascinating to read and gives great insight into how both the Mens and Womens Team GB have been playing.

    Here in the United States, our NBC coverage has been primarily handled by Don Duguid and Colleen Jones (former Canadian curling champions). Let's face it, we simply don't have any Americans uniquely qualified to comment on curling as comprehensively as the Canadians, British, etc.

    Our American (Canadian) commentators have been extremely impressed with Muirhead. Even when she made mistakes they were quick to point out how this is a fantastic learning experience for her (especially when having to deal with the hockey-like atmosphere in the Vancouver Arena). Terms like "wunderkind" and "child prodigy" were used liberally, and rightfully so. They were especially impressed with her ability to make big shots and takeouts, even if it weren't always the case in their losses.

    Our commentators also noticed the lack or deteriorating team spirit that descended on Womens Team GB as the Olympics progressed. The women appeared less enthusiastic and weren't "high-fiveing" each other as much as before. In our sparse coverage of Womem Team GB (with the exception of their match against Team USA), the coverage seemed to catch members of Women Team GB with a faraway stare, as if they were somewhere else in their minds.

    In any event, it was great having the Canadians provide expert commentary on the strategy and issues during our curling coverage. Otherwise, the newly initiated (like myself) would not have had a clue about what was going on. And luckily for us, our commentators did not invite guests into the commentator's booth! No distracting, idle gossip chat for us!

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  • 76. At 9:04pm on 27 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    Re: 73

    With regards to your last question (about what happened to Team GB), it appeared that both Teams GB just seemed to lack the chemistry that other teams seemed to possess (at least from our TV coverage in the USA).

    I think a lot of it had to do with how players are selected for Team GB. Personally, I like how Teams Canada and USA do it: pick your own rink, and compete against all the other rinks for the right to represent your country. Of course, our teams suck in the USA, but we still managed to beat 2 other teams that put in a lot more financial resources into their curling teams than we Americans did.

    A lot has to be said for team chemistry and teamwork in team sports like curling.

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  • 77. At 9:38pm on 27 Feb 2010, Alex wrote:

    bankergolfer; I understand what you're saying when you talk of chemistry issues, though I don't feel that was the ultimate downfall with our Men's team. You're talking about 4 guys that've played together for quite a few years now and are reigning World Champions - which, let's be honest, constitutes the same merits as Olympic Champions, in that it's played against the same players under the same conditions. Undoubtedly there was growing tension though, I can only assume born from frustration.

    The Women, well, they met realistic expectation if we're honest. Build the correct team around Eve Muirhead and I'm very optimistic of a strong future.

    The good news is that both squads have a chance to rebound next week in the Scottish Championships, something which I fully expect both to do.

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  • 78. At 9:44pm on 27 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    Re: 77

    Great points there, Alex. I agree with you and hope that both your UK teams do well in the Scottish Championships next week.

    As for our women curlers, they're going back to work! 2 of them work in Human Resources for different companies and 1 is a Emergency Room nurse.

    Regrettably, our funding for our Olympic curlers here in the USA is absolutely pathetic.

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  • 79. At 10:00pm on 27 Feb 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    75. At 8:59pm on 27 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    "Here in the United States, our NBC coverage has been primarily handled by Don Duguid and Colleen Jones (former Canadian curling champions)."
    __________

    If you had Don Duguid and Collen Jones, then you had a real treat. They really know what they're talking about, and they say it in such aa polite manner.

    Good on NBC for having had the wisdom to have consulted them.

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  • 80. At 10:15pm on 27 Feb 2010, fairplayer wrote:

    bankergolfer and Alex

    bankergolfer - It was good to hear your comments from an American accent and very interesting to learn that the commentary for the curling games was done by male and female Canadian commentators. I think you are right about chemistry but because the men's team has been together for so long I would have thought they should have worked that out by now. Thanks for your comments.
    Alex - I am troubled by some of your comments namely, I accept the men are great players but surely with the Olympics you have to 'up' your game and manage it so that you hopefully peak at the right time. Because you are reigning World Champions, it doesn't give you the automatic right to an Olympic Gold. It's another day and another challenge of the highest order and you have to be at your peak as a team. "Growing tension" and "frustration" must never be in the mind-set of anyone, or any team, competing at such a high level. That should have been identified and dealt with by the team coaches.
    I agree with you about the women. I very much hoped they would at least get a bronze to spur them on and to encourage them to aim higher. Eve Muirhead, only 19, will develop into a World Class skip, given the right people around her and not just those on the sheet. I think she won three gold medals in junior championships, so she has a solid pedigree.
    I will follow both teams in the Scottish Championships where I hope they will do well. Although we can watch curling from Vancouver, it probably will not be beamed down from Scotland to south east England, so I might just have to read about it or follow it on the net.

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  • 81. At 10:31pm on 27 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    RE: 79.

    You're right, Interestedforeigner. We were really lucky that NBC finally showed some wisdom in getting Don Duguid and Colleen Jones. Their comments on all the curling matches were insightful, entertaining, and very educational (especially for new curling initiates like myself).

    They would use analogies from other sports (like golf, for example) to describe just how challenging it is to be an expert curler (reading ice similar to reading a green in golf, etc.). They would also ask each other what would they do if they were in the playing skip's position, and then discuss all the various options open. More often than not, they would agree with each other's assessments of the field and situation (I suppose great minds do think alike).

    They had nothing but positive, complimentary things to say especially about Eve Muirhead. They said that all of the countries would be thrilled to have her skip for their teams. So, if the British decide to cast her out because of her 2010 Olympic performance, please send Eve to the USA.

    We could use a good skip and would love to have her represent the USA in 2014!

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  • 82. At 10:39pm on 27 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    RE: 79

    There was one great exchange between Don and Colleen during the Mens Team GB tie break match against Sweden.

    It was Murdoch's turn to throw. Don thought that Murdoch should have milked the clock (delayed throwing his rock) to ice (throw off-balance) the Swedish skip.

    Colleen immediately disagreed, saying that doing so was impolite, bad sportsmanship, and generally in bad form all around.

    Don countered by saying that Team GB was playing for the opportunity to play in the semifinals in the Olympics. What could be more important?

    Colleen remained steadfast and said that it would still be disrespectful to the spirit of curling and bad form. She also brought up that the women Team Germany skip tried a similar tactic earlier in 2009 during a timeout (which lasted 10 minutes), which led to a rule stating that timeouts could only lasting 30 seconds (or 1 min; I can't remember).

    During that entire exchange, we marveled at how polite and respectful Don and Colleen were to each other and their respective opinions.

    FYI - Murdoch did not delay in throwing his rock (to Colleen's delight!).

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  • 83. At 10:54pm on 27 Feb 2010, Alex wrote:

    Re: 80

    I absolutely agree with you fairplayer999, those aspects of frustration shouldn't have been there... but they clearly were. Obviously they've no divine right to Olympic gold and that isn't something I was suggesting they had, I was simply reasoning that they have a proven pedigree as a unit and that chemistry really shouldn't have been an issue for them.

    Correct with regard to Eve too, three successive Junior titles ('07,'08,'09), twice as skip, and another year in the smalls to go. I at least see her as a bright spot regardless of results in Vancouver.

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  • 84. At 11:21pm on 27 Feb 2010, fairplayer wrote:

    Re: bankergolfer

    Re my comment in 80 "It was good to hear your comments from an American accent". I apologise for the word "accent" which was incorrect, it should have said "perspective" and I hold my hands up and say I got the word wrong. Apologies again.

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  • 85. At 00:34am on 28 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    Re: 80, 84

    No worries fairplayer999. I knew exactly what you meant by "accent" and thank you for your very kind words and welcoming my American perspective.

    I enjoy reading and seeing things from the British perspective (especially some of the previous posts about the BBC's coverage of the curling matches). I was fortunate to have spent 3 months as a business expat in your wonderful country (Chester) and truly enjoyed learning about the culture, as well as taking in the beautiful pastoral sights.

    I also agree with both you and Alex about Eve and her bright future in curling. I hope the BOA decides to form a team around Eve of her choosing, and not simply assembling a team of skips. There's something to be said about having to many Chefs in the kitchen. I remember reading that one of Eve's former teammates resigned her position as the alternate. I'm sure Eve would have liked to have had her former teammate there in Vancouver.

    I just wish we had that sort of curling talent like Eve here in the USA. I suppose we will have to hope that some of our talented neighbors to the north decide to "defect" to the USA one day to bolster our ranks!

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  • 86. At 00:44am on 28 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    Can you all please recommend to me the best curling message boards (and website addresses) to go to?

    Curling in the Olympics ends tonight in the USA, but I'd still like to keep abreast of what's going on in the curling world (e.g. the Scottish Curling Championships next week).

    Thank you.

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  • 87. At 11:16am on 28 Feb 2010, Alex wrote:

    bankergolfer; I tend to read these boards regarding GB curling - http://scottishcurlingforum.co.uk/forum/

    I'm sure there are others though.

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  • 88. At 11:20am on 28 Feb 2010, Alex wrote:

    Also;

    http://www.thecurlingnews.com/blog/2010/02/
    http://skipcottagecurling.blogspot.com/
    http://bobweeksoncurling.blogspot.com/
    http://www.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/

    Bare in mind they're all Brit-slanted though.

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  • 89. At 3:24pm on 28 Feb 2010, bankergolfer wrote:

    Re: 87, 88

    Thank you Alex. I appreciate it.

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  • 90. At 8:55pm on 28 Feb 2010, The Tower Bridge Fox wrote:

    The Great Britain teams seemed to have been affected by sociological games , like the curs of the red stones, which proved to be nonsense , and a rumour that only the Canadians would benefit from , and the Norwegian players trousers. The other top teams seemed to just block all this nonsense out .

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  • 91. At 03:39am on 13 Mar 2010, WinnipegGooner wrote:

    Don't overestimate how Murdoch's wins of Kevin Martin in the last 18 months indicate how inferior the Canadian side is...I don't think there is little doubt that the Kevin Martin rink is the best on earth. The local curling bonspiels in Canada where Martin lost to Murdoch were simply practice.

    Out of the hack, Murdoch didn't throw proper skip stones...the sort that get your team out of trouble. Kevin Martin, John Morris, and Mark Kennedy were ready for the games...murdoch lost the plot!

    Made me proud to be Canadian.

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