Final Thoughts From Omaha

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This is me showing John Morris his debut column in the December edition of The Curling News – first time he'd seen it. I'll see my first one in the January edition!

This is me showing John Morris his debut column in the December edition of The Curling News – first time he'd seen it. I'll see my first one in the January edition!

By Rob Gordon

The second leg of the Curling World Cup has come to a close, and with that, my stay here in Omaha. The city was welcoming, the curling was exciting, and I even got to reconnect with some family friends (shout out to Sue and Phil Daubman).

I enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in a curling event in an unfamiliar role, it was interesting seeing the event from a different perspective. Special thanks to Cameron MacAllister and Emily Dwyer from the World Curling Federation media team for showing me the ropes and answering any questions I had along the way. For my final blogpost, I decided to create a David Letterman-esque Top 10 list – highlighting some of my favourite things about the second leg of the Curling World Cup. So, without further ado…

10. Hitting the hay after the first full day

I didn’t realize how exhausting this whole media thing would be! On Thursday morning, I awoke at 5:30 a.m. to craft my first blogpost, then headed to the arena for 8:00 am – four draws later, I left the Ralston arena (for the first time that day) at 10:00 p.m. I was out like a light as soon as my head hit the pillow that night. Needless to say, I have a newfound respect for the guys and gals in the media business. It’s harder than it looks!

9. Three disciplines under under one roof

 things about the Curling World Cup is the Men’s event, Women’s event, and Mixed Doubles event all run concurrently with one another. This means as a spectator, you can watch a variety of games on any given draw. As a player, combining men’s/women’s/mixed together adds to the social aspect of the event. An often-overlooked detail that many players I talked to said they enjoy.

8. Fans doing the wave

 As I mentioned in myprevious blogpost, what the American fan base lacked in size, they made up for in spirit. After Canada’s Jason Gunnlaugson missed a runback and gave the USA’s John Shuster a steal of two and a commanding 7-2 lead in their final round robin game, the crowd broke out in the wave. Okay, it was a meek attempt at a wave, but a wave nonetheless. Curling needs more of this type of fan engagement; the atmosphere at a live curling event needs to resemble a party, not a funeral.

7. Omaha Zoo – What? It can’t all be curling!

 The Omaha Zoo is highly touted as one of the best in the country, and it did not disappoint. Great way to kill a few hours between games. If you ever find yourself in Nebraska it is worth a visit.

6. Lazy Handle heads to Omaha

 Good on the WorldCurling Federation for bringing an aspiring young journalist to Omaha and giving her the opportunity to interview some of curling’s biggest stars. I know how excited I was to be on the media bench for this event, so I can only imagine how she felt. Check out her YouTube channel by searching “Lazy Handle Show.”

5. Thank you volunteers

Events like this can’t run without a crew of dedicated volunteers making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. The volunteers at this event were spectacular. I was fortunate enough to chat with some of them throughout the week, and their positive attitudes were infectious.

4. Asian invasion

The second leg of the Curling World Cup saw an all-Asian final on the women’s side as Japan defeated Korea in thrilling fashion, stealing two points in the final end to walk away with an unlikely victory. Satsuki Fujisawa from Japan has skipped a top team for a few years now, winning a silver medal at the 2016 women’s worlds and a bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The teenagers from Korea were even more impressive. Relatively unknown, the Koreans finished top of their pool by virtue of their two victories over the Canadians, and earned a spot in the final on Sunday. Heartbreaking end to their week.

3. Aksarben club hosts learn-to-curls

Near the conclusion of every session, the PA announcer's voice would bellow out of the speaker: “Want to know what it really feels like to throw a curling rock? Head over to the public ice after the draw to try it out.” I never thought anything of it until the final day when I decided to check it out. The rings were faded, the hacks temporary, and the ice hadn’t been pebbled since the start of the week – but gosh darn it, people were learning how to throw a curling rock! This was such a great idea by all parties involved, and introduced a lot of newcomers to the sport over the course of the week.

2. Cheering on my girlfriend Kristin MacCuish and Team Canada (I swear I’m not biased)

The main reason I headed down to Omaha was to watch my girlfriend compete. Being able to cheer her and her teammates on as they represented our country was a lot of fun. They played great all week and unfortunately ran into a hot team from South Korea, who beat them in both round robin meetings. Although it was not the result they were hoping for, Team Fleury sure made all their fans proud this week. Shuster wins on home soilShuster wins on home soil

1. Shuster wins on home soil

This one is obvious. As if it were scripted, USA’s John Shuster defeated Sweden’s Niklas Edin in the men’s final, a rematch of the 2018 Olympic gold medal game. American fans were treated to great shotmaking and thrilling finishes from Team Shuster all week,culminating in the much-anticipated Olympic rematch in the final. Shuster had control throughout the game, and ran Sweden out of rocks in the final end, solidifying the victory.

Validation. That’s what winning the second leg of the Curling World Cup meant to Shuster who said, “This win cemented the fact that our Olympic win wasn’t a fluke.” This is definitely a team that cannot be taken lightly anymore.

I had a great time in Omaha at the Curling World Cup. Thanks again to The Curling News for giving me a platform to share my experiences with all of you... and look for my article on the event in the January print and digital editions. Seems like the perfect time to give the gift of a subscription to The Curling News this holiday season!