Scotties at the end …

So, the Scotties has ended, and I generally got to watch one full draw and part of another every day during it. Here are my thoughts on it:

Jennifer Jones beat Kerri Einarson again 8 – 6 in the final — which started too late for me to watch — to take her record-tying sixth Scotties championship. This was a rematch of the 1 – 2 game (between the first place and the second place team in the playoffs, with Einarson getting a second chance to make it to the final by beating the winner of the game between the third and fourth place teams) which Jones won 9 – 7. Einarson had managed to beat Jones in the Championship Round 6 – 4 to take first place, but didn’t carry that on to the elimination games.

However, it is interesting to note that these teams were probably the teams that are the best known or had the best records on the Grand Slam tour, although I don’t think Einarson is a constant playoff team there yet. All of the teams that were semi-regulars on the Tour made it to the Championship Round, and the only two of those teams that didn’t make it to the playoffs were Casey Scheidegger’s team — and this was her first Scotties, and she’s still a relative rookie on the Tour — and the very Scotties experienced Michelle Englot, who in general is streaky on the Tour. The teams that made it through that weren’t really known on the Tour were Mary-Ann Arsenault’s team — where she has had tonnes of experiences with Colleen Jones and I think this was at least her fourth Scotties as a skip — and Tracey Fleury, who if I recall correctly does play at least peripherally on the Tour. And you can add in that the Tour teams all had strong records (Englot’s was a bit weak) and that many of them had an easy time in the round robin, with Jones, especially early, completely running away with games to the tune of double-digit points when her opponents had around two or three. This is not something that often happens on the Tour, and certainly didn’t happen at the Roar of the Rings. Even with the Wild Card team — which was Einarson — the provincial format simply didn’t have the quality of teams that you’d expect to see if you really had the best teams in Canada participating, and Arsenault pretty much had to shoot the lights out to make it as far as she did (which she may not be able to replicate next year).

This is not to say that the curling was bad, because at times it was really, really good. But it seems to me that there are too many teams that are weaker, and so those matches aren’t generally that interesting and they often tend to get destroyed when they hit the better teams. At the end of it all, Jones and Einarson were the class of the field and Einarson rarely beats Jones. At best, Jones had some games that she would expect to lose on occasion on the Tour. Sure, she’s one of the best curlers in the world, and maybe the best — although Homan would certainly contest that — but it seems, again, that the Tour is much more challenging to her than this was, which is probably not what we want out of the Canadian Championships.

Also, there were some comments from the commentators that it’s hard to come back in these games, but my impression was the opposite, mostly because while on the Tour the games are eight ends, here the games ten ends. So if you give up more than you’d like in the seventh, you can come back just because you have three more ends to go, instead of only one more end. I watched Hollie Duncan from Ontario do that a lot; she’d make a mistake in either strategy or in shot-making and go down by two or three and I’d think “Well, she’s done” and she’d come back to eventually win the game. They’re talking about going to the five rock rule (and I think they already do that on the Tour) but the continual updates to how many rocks you can throw in the free guard zone in the hopes of generating offense seem to be a bad idea to me. Offense can be fun to watch, but if there’s no strategy to the game curling would lose what makes it great. Sure, you can argue that without that everyone finds the ideal strategy and there’s no variation either, but I think that it might be worthwhile to let players come up with new strategies to take advantage of the set strategy more often. After all, the original rule change soon resulted in the adoption of the “tick shot”, where you move the guard over and out of the way without removing it, which Lisa Weagle of Rachel Homan’s team excels at. I think that offensively-minded teams will find a way to break through defenses and make things tough for defensively-minded teams, and tweaking the rules so much discourages that sort of thinking.

However, the curling was still entertaining to watch if you weren’t watching one of the blowouts, and the semi-final — which I was able to watch — mixed incredibly offense in the first half with solid defense in the second half.

Next up: the Olympics.

One Response to “Scotties at the end …”

  1. Elite 10 | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] it was really hurt by the fact that on the Grand Slam they only play eight ends instead of ten. I’ve commented on how that has an impact before, but here it’s even worse. When you hit the sixth end and are up by 2 ends, it’s pretty […]

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