Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Curling Recap: 7/30/10

Curling is back! We played in a pick-up game last Friday, and for the third straight year are playing in the Triangle Curling Club's annual bonspiel, the Carolina Classic. After that, curling is off again until the Fall season begins six weeks later. So, I suppose curling isn't really back yet. Think of this as a little oasis in the middle of the desert, a.k.a. summer.

Friday, July 30th

End......... 12345678 |TTL
--------------------------
Allen....... 10003032 | 09
Gray........ 01130200 | 07

Given that this is the middle of summer, the quality of play in these pick-up games isn't exactly stellar. The summer ice conditions don't help, either: high humidity means slow ice, and slow ice makes it more difficult to contol your weight. For instance, in the first end, only one rock out of 16 made it into the house the entire end.

And, of course, we had the usual zamboni lines to contend with, which today meant take-outs were virtually impossible. That's not always the case with zamboni lines, but when there's a zamboni line right down the center, it makes for some very weight-sensitive shots. Throw it hard, and your rock will fall away from the center line very quickly and never recover. Throw it soft, and it will fall at first, but it will recover and come back towards center at the end. That combination makes take-outs very difficult. Instead, the strategy was simple: get early position, then guard the primary routes to the house so that the other team can't out-draw you.

Since the strategy was so simple, as skip, I didn't have to think a whole lot. So maybe I shouldn't give myself too much credit for the comeback victory. ... But on the other hand, I generally have problems with comeback victories, so I'll give myself a little credit, if nothing else just because I didn't get as frustrated as normal. Usually when my teams get down by 4 or more, I panic and try to get everything back at once. This time, while lying two in the 5th end, I called for guards to protect the two, rather than try to put a third or fourth rock in the house like I may have done in some of my past failed comeback attempts. Protect the two, and if you luck out and end up with three or more (which seems to happen a lot in our games), bonus! ... Or, maybe it just took the team a while to get draw weight down. From the 5th end on, our team's draw weight was much, much better. That probably has more to do with the comeback than "strategy".

Alright...moving on to this weekend's Carolina Classic, the Triangle Curling Club's annual bonspiel. This is the club's third annual bonspiel, and it's also the third that Amber and I will be a part of. It's also the first time that we've had a full 24-team field, 18 of which are coming from out of town. So, this Classic is sure to be the best ever. Yeah!

The last two years, we've been quite successful in the Classic, winning six games and losing two. Can we keep it up this year? To help ensure that we could, rather than form a team ourselves with me as skip, Amber and I combined forces with two of the club's better curlers (Murray and Kathy) and will leave the important shots and strategy to them. I'll have plenty of opportunities to skip bonspiel teams later on. In fact, I'm thinking of playing in at least one, possibly up to three "5 and under" bonspiels in 2010-2011. "5 and under" bonspiels are restricted to curlers with 5 years or less experience, and I want to play in as many as I can while I'm eligible and without children. And, I'd like to skip in at least one of the three.

So, I'll save the bonspiel skipping for another time. For now, let's go for the win! On paper, this team could definitely win it all. But even despite the home-ice advantage, and the fact that most of the out-of-town teams haven't curled in months, you never know how good some of these out-of-town teams are going to be. My general assumption when playing at bonspiels is that the other team is better than we are. I mean, let's face it - we're from North Carolina. It'll be a lot tougher to convince myself we're the underdog as long as Murray and Kathy are on our team (they're Canadian), but I'll try my best. (Pessimism: pass it on!) Regardless...there's no pressure, right? And can my arms can handle a full weekend of sweeping after playing skip most of the year?

I know I make it sound like the only thing I care about is winning, but I'm just trying to make it sound overly dramatic. Really, we're just in it to have fun, and I don't think Amber and I have ever played on a team with Murray and Kathy before, so it'll be fun. We've played with them individually, but never with all four of us on the same team.

I'll provide occasional Twitter/Facebook updates throughout the bonspiel to keep you posted on how well our quest for glory is going. Or, you can also follow our progress with the official team rosters and brackets. Wee!

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