With the men's worlds poised to begin in Regina, Canada, there is still much to talk about as the final month of the 2011 curling season gets underway.
Team Norway, of course, was the subject of one of yesterday's great curling-themed April Fool hoaxes, which you can read here. The other jest came from Scotland, and can be read here. Both were supported by yours truly, through our popular Twitter feed which, incidentally, recently crossed over two major plateaus – 5,000 "tweets" and 2,500 "followers".
Team Thomas Ulsrud are also well-dressed for this shootout, as one might expect. In the Michael Burns CCA photo at left, the boys show off one of their pants plans for Regina, while this other design – a brand-new one – made its first appearance last night.
The final print edition of The Curling News (before we publish again in the fall) began arriving on Friday, and should hit western provinces and other parts of planet Earth early next week. As always, subscribers get the new xM content section while curling clubs do not, thus adding to the value of a personal subscription. A detailed list of this issue's contents can be found here, while the subscription page is located here.
Of note is a special apology to subscribers we have printed on page three. As some of you are aware, Canada Post decided to wreck havoc on our annual March (Brier) issue in ways that continue to baffle us. Club copies – which are shipped third-class – arrived days before first-class subscriber copies. Readers in Finland received their copy before readers in Guelph, Ontario. And too many subscribers got theirs in the mail a day or two after the Brier ended... a full two weeks after the issue went into the mailing system. What the hey?
At this point, it's all we can do to apologize for something – something so strange – that hasn't happened en masse in at least a decade. And as we wrote on page three, we are investigating what happened and we shall not rest until we have answers, and a strategy to ensure this never happens again. We don't want to change our 2011-2012 publication deadlines, but we will if we have to.
Speaking of the worlds, Brier champ and April issue cover boy Jeff Stoughton looks resplendent in his new Team Canada gear – love the sleeves! – as the Michael Burns CCA photo at bottom left shows. This is one of three different uniform "kits" the squad will wear, the others being primarily white and red. Personally, we would wear black for special occasions only... such as a particularly raunchy morning game (after an evening at the Patch, for example) or to snap a losing streak. But we're kinda old school.
Naturally, the Canadians have no intention of going on a losing streak in Regina; in fact they are quite bullish on their prospects. In this preview piece by Regina writer Murray McCormick – which also includes a semi-prediction from Team Martin lead Ben Hebert – Stoughton lead Steve Gould drops this zinger:
People wonder if we can match what we did at the Brier. That won’t happen because we’re going to be better than we were at the Brier.
Not to be outdone, Brier MVP Jon Mead had lots to say – much of it a standup comedy routine – but he did wax philisophical, too, from this interview with local scribe Paul Wiecek:
This is really, really important, but I also know there's a lot of great things we have in our lives. So it's not going to change our lives one way or the other. "But when we're between the hacks out there, it is life and death from a curling perspective. So I just think we have good life balance – and that's the key.
We would also like to highlight this feature on Stoughton himself, also from the Freep, which delves into his past, specifically his sometimes-controversial media soundbites.
But enough of the Canadians. There are 11 other teams in Regina, many of them quite decent, and it will be interesting to see how things shape up as next week's playoffs draw near. Until then, there will be saturation TV coverage of Canadian games on TSN – also online at TSN.ca, by the by – and lots of games broadcast internationally on Eurosport, CCTV in China, Universal Sports in the U.S. of A., et cetera.
And we shall be blogging live from the Brandt Centre, oh yes. We'll fire our special secret correspondent up on either Sunday or Monday, so stay tuned!
And there's more – still more! – for the month of April. Amongst numerous regional competitions in Canada and various countries around the world, there is still a few big events – the Players' Championship, the World Seniors and World Mixed Doubles – to be played.
It never seems to end, does it?