Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010 Carolina Classic Recap

Another bonspiel (that's "curling tournament" for the uninitated) is in the books. Woo! We had a great time, and we played well, too. Let's get to it.

For those who don't know how these "bonspiels" work, here's the typical format. The main bracket (a.k.a. "1st Event") is single elimination, culminating with the Final on Sunday. But in order to make it worth the trip for everyone who comes from out of town, everyone gets to play at least three games, so there are three consolation brackets on top of the "1st Event" bracket. Here is what the 2010 Classic draw looked like. Last year, Amber and I won the 4th Event; could we do better than that this year?

Game 1 - Friday, 3:45p: Triangle (Jackson) v. Detroit (Jankowski)

End.......... 12345678 | TTL
Triangle..... 411162-- | 15
Detroit...... 000000-- | 00

I'll be referring to teams this way: Club Name (Skip Last Name). As I mentioned in my preview, Amber and I played Second and Lead on our Classic team, with Murray and Kathy Jackson as Skip and Vice, respectively. That's a pretty formidable lineup if you ask me.

So, anyway...I felt bad for Team Detroit (Jankowski). For one thing, this game was on notorious Sheet 1, which despite the club's best efforts, we couldn't completely flatten out. It was much better than it's been all year, but still, the sheet was tilted towards the center of the rink, meaning all shots had to be made outside-in. (In curling terms: there was about a 6-foot fall towards the center of the rink, as opposed to a 15- to 20-foot fall.) No doubt the fine folks from Detroit, who I assume are used to playing on excellent ice, had never seen anything like this before. I can't call it fair. Given how huge the home-ice advantage was here, it's kind of a cruel joke on these out-of-town teams, really. "Come on down to the Carolina Classic, guys! You'll have a great time! Buwhahaha!!!"

I don't want to scare any future Carolina Classic teams from Up North away, so here's a disclaimer: our ice is no better or worse than any other arena club. Sheets 2 through 4 were playing pretty straight. Home teams combined to go 11-12 throughout the bonspiel, so the home ice advantage must not have been that great. Besides, nearly everyone who comes down is glad they made the trip, and many teams who played in 2009 came back this year. Come on down to the Carolina Classic, guys! You'll have a great time! Really!

Team Jankowski went 0-3 on the weekend, but at least one of their last two games - maybe both? - needed an extra end. So, they did alright once they made it off Sheet 1. Meanwhile, Detroit's other team would enact revenge on behalf of their clubmates later on.

Game 2 - Saturday, 8:00a: Triangle (Jackson) v. Potomac (Pintar)

End.......... 12345678 | TTL
Triangle..... 304030-- | 10
Potomac...... 010101-- | 03

The Potomac Curling Club (Laurel, MD) often brings formidable competition to the Carolina Classic. The 2008 Classic was won by a Potomac Team. They come down here a lot, so they know arena ice. I never take a game against a Potomac team lightly. Actually, I never take any game lightly. At any bonspiel, even the home ones, I assume the other teams are better than us.

Saturday was a long day, and being the early draw, I actually don't remember much about how this game panned out. So let's move on.

Game 3 - Saturday, 3:00p: Triangle (Jackson) v. Knoxville (O'Brien)

End.......... 12345678 | TTL
Knoxville.... 002000-- | 02
Triangle..... 120513-- | 12

This was definitely a case where I assumed the other team was far superior. I'm going to assume that the Knoxville (O'Brien) team is the only team in Carolina Classic history with World Championship experience. Granted, it was 17 years ago, and only the skip (rather than the entire team) had that kind of experience, but still. Some of the folks in the Classic are far better curlers than I'll ever be, which is one reason why I didn't really want to skip a team here.

Side comment: I found I enjoy playing Second more than Vice. With Vice, you have to pay a little attention to strategy, line, and so forth, but you don't get to call the shots. Playing a Vice is a great way for newer curlers to gain experience, and it's a necessary step before one starts playing Skip, but I'm already there. With Second, you get to concentrate almost exclusively on two things: making your shots, and sweeping. Judging the speed of the rocks is usually up to the sweepers, since they're right along side. I think I did a pretty good job at both my shot-making and weight-judging throughout the bonspiel, but there was never really that much pressure to do either, given the Murray and Kathy "safety net".

Another side comment: New curling clubs are sprouting up all over the Southeast, and a couple of them brought teams to the Carolina Classic. Two teams represented the Charlotte Centre Curling Club, and one represented the Palmetto (Greenville, SC) Curling Club. Both of those clubs are less than a year old. It's only a matter of time before we start up "The Curling Championship of the Carolinas" between the three clubs, right?

And just like that, we're in the final of the 2010 Carolina Classic. Actually, it's been a little too easy so far. Our opponents have conceded after 6 ends in every game, and the cumulative score is 37-5. I had to wonder if we were the curling version of the Oklahoma football team. Sure, we can beat Texas A&M 77-0, but what's going to happen when we play Texas, LSU, or Florida?

Game 4 (1st Event Final) - Sunday, 11:30a: Triangle (Jackson) v. Detroit (McElwee/Levy) (Mark McElwee and Ben Levy alternated skip duties throughout the weekend, hence my "slash" team designation)

End.......... 12345678 | TTL
Detroit...... 03100210 | 07
Triangle..... 20021001 | 06

Sure, the Knoxville team was good (they ended up winning the 4th Event, and we were their only loss throughout the weekend), but the Detroit (McElwee/Levy) team had to have been the best team in attendance. I'm proud that this game was as competitive as it was, and it was one of the most fun games I've ever played in. We had quite an audience and cheering section, too, this being the Final and all. This may be the first time I've ever received applause after a good shot. Fortunately, the crowd did not groan when I missed a shot, like the crowd does at competitive Canadian events sometimes. I don't know how I'd handle that.

So, here's the match in a nutshell...
- 1st end: I think this is one of those situations where we kind of lucked into two. That's been happening a lot so far this weekend. Surely, this isn't going to be another blow-out, right?
- 2nd end: Nope.
- 3rd end: If I remember correctly, we were very fortunate to get out of this end only giving up one. It could have been much worse.
- 4th end: Now...in the first three games, we'd been getting by on throwing almost exclusively draws and guards. Get position in the house, guard it, pile in there, and just like that, the other team is pretty much screwed. That works when take-outs are difficult, which on our ice, they usually are. (That was certainly the case in Game 3 v. Knoxville, which played to our advantage.) But Team Detroit was making most of their take-outs against us, leading us to change our strategy and throw a lot of take-outs as well early in the game. Well, that wasn't working out so well, so starting in the 4th end, we went back to our "bread and butter": draws, freezes, guards. The refocused strategy worked, and we tied the game.
- 5th end: Don't remember much about this end.
- 6th end: This one was just crazy. EVERY rock was in play, except for the final rock, which Team Detroit purposely threw away. (They were already sitting two, and given how much traffic there was in front, it was too risky to go for more.) I wish I could have gotten a picture of the house at that point. But, I had better things to worry about. Like...let's win this game!
- 7th end: This was another crazy end with lots of traffic. In ends like this, if you don't get early position, your only chance is to hit some of your other rocks into the house, either to take-out the opponents' rocks, or to promote another rock to the button. I think at some point late in the end, we were lying two or more, at which point Team Detroit made a fantastic raise to the button (garnering some cheering from the Detroit (Jankowski) team, who were watching and no doubt having a lot of fun watching us lose). And that was that. Gotta score two coming home.
- 8th end: This was actually a wide-open end, by comparison. After my two shots (which I made - I certainly didn't make all my shots, but I came through in the 8th), the house looked something like this: (our team = red)

This is a pretty good position to be in if you have last rock. In an Olympic-level game, this results in two for red most of the time. You can't make a double take-out with the rocks this far apart, so you can only go for one at a time. But we're not Olympic-level curlers, so it wasn't that simple. Neither team made every shot the rest of the way, and we eventually lost the advantage and only were able to score one. And I don't even know if we got the one, actually. We shook hands before the last rock came to a stop. So, the final score might have actually been 8-5 rather than 7-6. But 7-6 looks better, right?

And that's the 2010 Carolina Classic. I know I didn't have much in the way of pictures (about 0), but unofficial club photographer Adam Prince posted 344 pictures from the weekend. So if you want pictures, go there. Here are some highlights:
- Our team photo
- Our four opponents: Detroit (Jankowski), Potomac (Pintar), Knoxville (O'Brien), Detroit (McElwee/Levy) (There are also some "goofy" team photos mixed in there, but you have to find those yourself. Consider it a treasure hunt.)
- The silly bagpipe ceremony
- Chris yells, Amber looks calm, and Kathy's hair flows in the breeze
- Team Detroit (McElwee/Levy) totally kicking our butts
- And many more action shots of Team Triangle (Jackson), especially towards the end of the album.

Amber and I are having a great year on the ice. 2nd in the Winter League, 2nd in the Spring League, 1st in the June one-day mini-spiel, and runner-up in the Carolina Classic. We also both have over 100 career games now (102 for me, 100 for Amber). Can we keep it up when the Fall League begins September 17th? Sooner or later, the ---- is going to hit the fan, don't you think? If you ask me, I think we're due for a 2-6 season.

1 comment:

christine said...

asan ung lyrics ng yells

ala naman kaung ginawa eh