Boost National

This isn’t the first curling that I watched this season, but it’s the first Grand Slam event.  Since the Blue Jays made it to the playoffs (only to bow out in two games) my watching of this event was a bit hit and miss, both because I was watching that instead and because the channel that has the curling was also running the baseball and so sometimes had to shuffle the curling off to their streaming channel instead of having it on the normal broadcast channels.  However, since the Blue Jays went out in two games I did manage to watch both the men’s and women’s finals.  In a game that started with great shots but ended on a bunch of mistakes, Brad Gushue beat Niklas Edin in the men’s final, while it was a more consistently inconsistent game that Silvana Tirinzoni won over Kerri Einarson, which was a bit of a weird one for me since I kinda like both teams, was getting a bit sick of Einarson winning all the time, but since Tirinzoni replaced half her team over the break it wasn’t really the team that I had liked in the past.

At any rate, one thing of interest was Rachel Homan’s team, that brought on Tracy Fleury who used to skip her own team.  From what I had heard, the original idea was that Fleury was the skip and Homan threw fourth stones, but in the previous tournament they were going to call it Team Fleury but then changed it at the last minute to Team Homan, and in this tournament Fleury was definitely being treated as a third (she had to do a measure at one point, which is normally done by the third and she wasn’t used to that).  I’m not sure that she feels that that was what she signed up for.  Also, I noticed that Emma Miskew at at least one point was dominating a lot of the discussion like she did in the past, which I had thought was her acting a lot like a skip.  That’s okay but not necessarily ideal in a third, but now she’s a second and that wouldn’t be her role anymore.  Sarah Wilkes also chimes in (and used to be a third, if I remember correctly) and so there might be issues with too many people who have their own complete ideas of what to do generating too much discussion.  You can say that the same problem could have existed with Einarson’s team which had all skips, but the front end accepted their roles pretty quickly and left the strategy up to Einarson and Sweeting more and only chimed in when explicitly asked, which didn’t seem to be the case here.  It’s going to be very interesting to see if the new Homan team can gel.

Another new team is that of Jennifer Jones, who joined up to lead Mackenzie Zacharias’ old team, with Mackenzie herself throwing second stones.  Watching the team, I was curious about whether Jones is going to stay for the entire four years leading up to the Olympics.  If she does, then this makes her look like an aging athlete trying for one last chance at a championship by taking up with a young talented team that she can be the veteran on, and thus makes it look like this move was more for her than for them.  If she doesn’t and didn’t plan on staying for the four years, then it would look like her taking the opportunity to pass her knowledge and experience onto a young team while playing out the last couple of years of her career.  Since I’ve never been that fond of Jones, I could believe that it’s the former, but hope that it’s the latter.

Another thing of interest comes from the team formed by Jones’ old third, Kaitlyn Lawes.  It turns out that she’s expecting a baby and will be stepping away from this brand new team in November.  And her third, Selena Njegovin, is also expecting and will probably be stepping away sometime in March.  This is a wrinkle that women’s teams have that men’s teams don’t have to worry about.  Sure, you can take the stance of “Women can do anything while pregnant” — and Rachel Homan played through most of her recent pregnancy — but the issue here is that the changing weight distribution can play havoc with how they throw the stones, which is incredibly important to making the shots.  So what they have to do is practice and change their delivery to accommodate that — since it has to be automatic and unconscious — and then change it back after they deliver.  This doesn’t seem like an ideal time for two members of this very new team to do that and be away for a significant amount of time.  Then again, if women curlers are going to have children the first two years of a four year cycle seems to be the best time to do that, since they’d have the last two years to settle everything and the children would be older by the time the Olympics come around.  So do you lose the time when building a new team, or right before the important games, or do you put off children until after your career?  Biology means that this is a decision that women have to make and men don’t, and so it’s an issue for them and not the men.

The next event is the Tour Challenge, which starts next week.


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