Flippin to the A Side

So, the next curling event is one that always reminds me of this song:


That’s because it’s the one tournament where instead of using a round robin format they use a triple knockout format. What this means is that teams are divided up in three “sides”, A, B and C, where the A side hasn’t lost a game, the B side has lost one game, and the C side has lost two games. The goal, as the commentators put it, is to win three games before you lose three games. The brackets, obviously are what reminds me of that song, but what is interesting about the tournament itself is that some teams will play quite a few more games than others, ranging from, well, 3 to 5 I guess. I found out this week that this is what the format used to be for all the Grand Slam events, and after they all went to a round robin this one went back to this, pretty much just to be different. I’m not really sure which I prefer, but the round robin is a lot easier to follow.

The final itself was the game that was the least interesting to me, as it featured Anna Hasselborg against Min Ji Kim. I’m not terribly fond of Hasselborg, and knew nothing about Kim, so there wasn’t really a team for me to cheer for here. Hasselborg ended up winning the game 7 – 3, which gave her three straight wins on the Grand Slam, matching what Rachel Homan did last year.

Which brings me to the interesting fact that Homan is still struggling, missing the playoffs again after she won her first game and then didn’t win another the entire week, if I recall correctly. This is after winning the Canada Cup going away. There were comments about how having had two of the team have children in the last year might be affecting them, but the problem with that reasoning is that they performed so well at the Canada Cup. Maybe it’s a matter of shifting priorities? The Canada Cup had a much bigger prize — entry into the tournament to choose the Olympians — and maybe they aren’t as concerned about the Grand Slam tournaments as they were for that one.

It was also the first time that the semi-finals did not have a Canadian team, with them all being international teams. This garnered some hand-wringing about whether Canada should be worried about losing its position in curling, but I don’t really see it. Canada might have been dominant in the Grand Slams, but that was because it was Canada’s tournament and a lot of the best international teams wouldn’t come because the travel to Canada was too expensive for them. But when it came to the Worlds Canada was always in the mix but not an automatic winner, as there were always some great European teams to compete with them. About the only thing that’s different now is an influx of Asian teams, who are both now more able to make it out to Canada and have found that there’s a benefit to coming out to Canada, as if they play against the better teams they learn a lot which makes them better. So curling has always been competitive and is only becoming more so, but Canada doesn’t seem to have a dearth of strong even young teams coming out of the ranks. They shouldn’t get complacent, but they aren’t really struggling that much more than they have in the past. Although losing the Continental Cup two years in a row might make them wonder a bit.

The next curling action comes up in February, with the Scotties (the Canadian Women’s Championships).

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