Russ Howard: Swiss curling coach

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After reading this here chat thread about Canadian curling coaches, Russ Howard flew his star pupils – Switzerland’s Team Ralph Stöckli – over to Moncton and then into Toronto yesterday.

Okay, we’re kidding, this Canadian Tour has been planned for a while.

Following a week of training in Moncton, with the Stöcklis bunking in at Russ’ house, the squad made a pinch-hit appearance for Team Steski in the Toronto Major League last night at St. George’s. They lost a close one to defending provincial Silver Tankard champ Bill Duck, the club manager.

In the TCN photo taken by Anil Mungal, that’s skip Stöckli at left, followed by third Jan Hauser, The Olympic Champion Yelling Guy, second Markus Eggler (who himself skipped Switzerland to the 1992 world championship) and lead Simon Strübin.

Today the Swiss hit the 401 for the short drive to Waterloo for the first Capital One Grand Slam of the year, the Masters of Curling.

More on Russ and his charges in the December issue of The Curling News, which goes to press next week. Are you a subscriber?

Lots to say about Slam number one:

• There’s a CBC Slam season preview located here;

• Glenn Howard, who has a new interview posted over at The Curling Show, comes in ranked number one, ahead of Kevin Martin (according to us, anyway);

• As Brian Belfry writes, this could be Ontario’s last chance to see the once-previously-retired Kerry Burtnyk throw a live stone;

• Did you catch the announcement of the brand-new $170,000 Capital One Cup ...?

• And the one regarding world’s first Curling Rewards credit card – click on the ad banner atop this fine website (and this one, too) ...?

• How about the Million Dollar Button contest, now underway and which climaxes at the third men’s Slam at Winnipeg in January?

• What about the not-yet-publicized reveal that next fall’s mammoth Toronto 2009 event – hosted at the Air Canada Centre – has been rebranded as the Masters of Curling Toronto 2009?

That reveal also shows that a secret All-Star men’s team will round out the field – that’s the good news – and that a new $14.00 facility fee has been applied to ticket purchases. That is most certainly the bad news.

What of last fall’s club ticket drive? Those ducats didn’t have a facility fee applied to them at the time...

“TCA will pick up the cost of the facility fee for the package offered last year,” said Toronto Curling Association president Elizabeth Woolnough. “That cost will not be passed down to the clubs, nor to the ticket holders.”

Finally, don’t forget the webcast and television coverage: CBC Sports Online has live streaming of the weekend playoff round (action starts tonight) and both CBC-TV and BOLD will combine to cover those playoff games – three of them – on television.

Anything else, you ask?

• At the Canadian Mixed, the wheat chaffers were undefeated at 7-0 as of Tuesday night and Manitoba skip Sean Grassie even wrote this introductory column for the Winnipeg Sun.

Meanwhile our friend townie bastard is working behind the scenes as a member of the organizing committee... and despite his previous fretting, his photos are just fine!

• You heard about the 2010 Tim Hortons Brier heading to Halifax, right? if not, read this and this ...

• Guess what: Rainy River will survive ...

• It’s just a guess, but it looks like the Toronto Curling Association might be behind this Vaughan Today feature. The participation message is strong among three different sources ...

• Here’s a cool idea: check out Hamilton, Ontario’s “Club 64” league for juniors ...

• 2006 Olympic wheelchair curling champion Chris Daw is in a Newfoundland hospital recovering from a broken hip ...

• Stefanie Lawton is taking a year off work to chase her Vancouver Olympic dream ...

• Wisconsin curling hero Bob simply did a great job ...

• We’ve got just one more Midland, Michigan TV story for you ...

• Crash! They’ve had their first injury at the new club in Columbus, Ohio; and congratulations, by the way ...

• DID YOU KNOW: that the venerable Wall Street Journal gave us a call today? Nope, we don’t know why either. We’re playing voicemail tag right now ...

• Napanee, Ontario is gunning to host either the 2010 or 2011 Ontario Men’s TSC Tankard at their newish $9.8 million Strathcona Paper Centre ...

• More madness in Moose Jaw as local politicians are threatened over the proposed $61.3 million sportsplex, which would include a new home for the local Hillcrest Curling Club ...

• Finally, Bob Weeks has been dishing on an interesting webstrategy quoted by the Canadian Curling Association (follow-up located here) ...