Tour Challenge …

So, the first stop on the Grand Slam of Curling schedule happened over this weekend, the Tour Challenge. I actually didn’t get to watch much of it as I was pretty busy this weekend with things that kept me away from the TV while it was on, but I did manage to catch the women’s Tier 1 final, with updates from the Tier 2 final.

The Tier 1 final was between two teams that gave me the impression last season of being teams that tended to do really well in the round robins and even in the playoffs but tended to fall flat in the big games, like finals. Both Val Sweeting and Anna Hasselborg tended to be factors in every tournament but never seemed to be able to put in a really strong, consistent performance in big games. Things started out that way for Sweeting, as she gave up a steal of three in the first end and was constantly just missing shots for the first half of the game, leading to her saying “We got one!” when she finally made one of those close shots. But Hasselborg struggled in the sixth, allowing Sweeting to take three, and her last shot in the eighth was heavy, giving Sweeting a steal of one to win the game. So, in the struggle of two teams that didn’t seem to be able to win the big game, Sweeting won … but has to be a bit concerned over coming out flat, again, in a big game, and only winning because Hasselborg kinda threw it away.

In the Tier 2 final, Kerry Einarson beat Chelsea Carey, which only cements my view of Carey’s team that it isn’t that great a team, but was getting a lot of attention because she won the Scotties once. But every time I see her play, I find that both her shot making and shot selection is a bit weak. She’s on the low-end of the Tier 1 teams, and won’t be playing there, for the most part, this season.

The other thing that really struck me is that given the nature of curling it can and has gotten a bit more personal than some other sports. At the finals, you tend to have two teams of four people, with focus on the skips. And you usually can hear what they’re saying. Exhibition tournaments have even mic’ed up the players so that the audience can hear them, and they’ve often responded by making more jokes and comments that the audience have laughed at and reacted to. I noticed that this time because Sweeting is pretty expressive, but is in a nice way most of the time, and the cameras focused on her after she missed and made shots to get that reaction, which definitely added a personal touch to it, which I think adds to the watchability of the game. You can now cheer for a team based on how well you like the players, not just on skill level, geographical level, or general impressions of them from interviews, but instead on how they really act and talk in a game.

Next up is the Masters, just before Hallowe’en.

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