LIVE BLOG Men’s Curling: Canada 6, Norway 3 (F)

Canada takes gold. The pants take silver.

by Scott Feschuk

Doing this on the spur of the moment. I don’t know a ton about curling. I do know, however, that from a distance Donald Sutherland looks like a homeless man. (Lest you think this a pejorative statement, I also believe that many homeless men look like Donald Sutherland.)

2:56 p.m. PT Another Olympic venue, another blast of Trooper over the soundsystem. I can’t believe the 1988 Olympics are almost over.

3:01 Bagpipes. People standing and clapping. Some folks seem drunk. This seems kind of familiar but I can’t– hang on, is someone going to try to feed me a haggis now?

First end

Everything is in place. The ice is ready. The medals podium sits just off to the side. John Morris has just enough facial scruff. And we’re underway, throwing stones for the gold. Canada opens with the hammer.

For those of you wondering about my own knowledge of and personal expertise with this sport… Number of Briers attended: One. Number of bonspiels watched on TV after failing to convince my Dad to turn it to something good: Lots. Cheryl Bernard, expressed as a number out of 10: eight. Plus my brother Dave is here tweeting and covering it for the Toronto Star. Go find him on the Twitter: @dfeschuk.

The first end evolves into something of a bland appetizer for the tasty main course to come: a nice takeout or two, and nothing else. No problem: those Norwegian pants are hypnotizing enough to entrall me for at least three ends. Canada 0, Norway 0.

Second end

It’s very strange to watch curling without the benefit of the TV commentators – I have to try to figure it out on my own, although the crowd is here to help me by clapping loudly at everything. I’m overwhelmed by the sensation that I’m destined to embarrass myself at any moment. (Now I know how Lindsay Lohan feels every day of her life.)

The second end isn’t much different from the first: a house that holds a single rock for the bulk of the time. Thomas Ulsrud plants one with sufficient skill that Kevin Martin is obliged to draw for one. Canada 1, Norway 0.

Third end

As the first stone makes its way along the ice, a woman in the stands breaks the silence by yelling, “Boring!” Hey, I was thinking that. And now I’m thinking it again. This is what happens when you try to hold a curling match without a hot mom. (A man in the stands is now loudly making what I assume to be an attempt at the bwock bwock bwock sound made by a chicken. Except it sounds like an arthritic seagull.)

Norway with the hammer. Audience with the ennui. And it ends with Ulsrud throwing through to blank the end. Let the muttering intensify! Canada 1, Norway 0.

Fourth end

Something just entered my mind, and for once it wasn’t Megan Fox in a nurse’s outfit: Remember that old SCTV skit for Monday Night Curling with “Howie McMeeker” – Keep two hands on the broom! I have no larger point to share – just wanted to know if you remember that.

We’re finally seeing some action now: People are actually throwing stones that aren’t immediately removed by the next curler. A novel and radical shift, and one that’s embraced by an audience that was so bored it was about to ask Donald Sutherland to do the voiceover of me drinking a beer. (He lifted the golden lager to his lips slowly, meaningfully, Olympically. Also: VISA is good.) John Morris executes a beautiful double takeout to leave Canada lying two. The Norwegian third misses twice, opening the door for Martin. With his last rock in hand, Ulsrud faces three Canadian stones in the house. He comes up just short on a draw to the button, and Canada steals one. Canada 2, Norway 0.

(On a more important note, the Arthritic Seagull guy is still at it. Obviously it’s not meant to be a chicken noise. Thoughts? Meanwhile, someone honked a horn just as Ulsrud was pushing off with his first rock, and now everyone is booing that bastard. Defy curling etiquette, will ya? To the pitchforks!)

Fifth end

Norway still with the hammer, the seagull still with chronic joint pain. Facing two Norwegian stones in the house, John Morris executes another tricky double, and earns an appreciative roar from the crowd. (I may be going out on a limb, but I get the sense that some of the ladies here fancy him. Just because that facial hair stopped working for George Michael doesn’t mean it can’t work for John Morris.)

Norway seems off balance again this end, with Ulsrud casting semi-perplexed looks down the ice. With his first rock, he gets only the front part of an attempted double, leaving Canada with one in play. But Martin grazes a guard trying to put a second rock in deep. With little other choice, Ulsrud aims to draw to the button but once again just doesn’t have enough on it. Canada steals another one. Canada 3, Norway 0.

Sixth end

During the break, the venue commentator conducts an interview with members of the Canadian women’s curling team – but Cheryl Bernard isn’t there. She’s a no-show. That’s like interviewing the E Street Band without Bruce Springsteen or William Shatner without his hairpiece! Where is the Vancougar? Has the deal for an American reality TV show come through that quickly?

Norway still with the hammer in the sixth, and still with the zero on the scoreboard. I can almost hear those Norwegians thinking to themselves: Damn, this Goodyear tire commercial man is a hell of a curler.

Torger Nergaard, Norway’s third, has been having a tough go of it today and, faced with three tightly packed stones in the house, uses up a lot of time preparing for his second shot. It gets the job done, leaving Norway with shot rock as we head to skip stones. Thanks to an ambitious Martin rock that doesn’t get all he wanted from it, Norway winds up taking a critical two. Canada 3, Norway 2.

Seventh end

Canada with the hammer. After Canada draws to the four foot to get it going, a Norwegian sweeper slams his broom in frustration after the shot of their second brushes a guard and winds up exposed. Martin, sensing blood (it’s got a blood alcohol content of 0.15 – that’s how you know it’s curling blood), calls his team together to talk it through. It has the feeling of a pivotal moment, and moreso when second Marc Kennedy executes a killer double. But Morris flubs a shot, Nergaard makes him pay and suddenly Norway is in command. Curling: surprisingly topsy-turvy. Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland is sitting two seats over from Stephen Harper and, so far as I can tell, hasn’t said more than two words to the PM. (Harper is sitting next to Dick Pound. Lots of awkward silences.)

Morris flubs another shot (ladies, if you’re looking for a new crush, might I recommend TSN’s Vic Rauter?) and the crowd goes quiet – a promising end now looks iffy-to-scary for the Canadian side. Norway lies three as Martin picks up his first of two stones. The skip draws to the button for shot rock. Ulsrud quickly picks up a rock and let’s it go: but his takeout fails. What looked good, then bad, looks good again (kind of like Sharon Stone). Canada is left with shot rock, and Martin’s perfect draw makes it two in all. Canada 5, Norway 2.

Eighth end

Norway with the hammer, and a growing sense of desperation. Canada puts two near the button and then starts peeling away guard after Norwegian guard. Those pants can do a lot, Norway, but they can’t do it all! John Morris reclaims his lady friends from Vic Rauter with a terrific double. There is dejection in the Norwegian posture. To make matters worse, Norway’s next rock hits something on the ice and swerves out of play. Martin puts one on the button, clearly content to force his rival skip to play for one. And what Martin wants, Martin gets (exception: perms). Canada 5, Norway 3.

Ninth end

Canada holds last rock. In other news, I will henceforth respond only to the name Jasey Jay Feschuk.

With the house getting crowded, Norway calls time to consult with its coach, whose sole visible contribution is to exhale and give a look of dejection. We move to skip stones with Canada lying two, the crowd doing the wave and the arthritic seagull just getting on everyone’s nerves now, buddy. Ulsrud clears out the Canadian stones. Martin edges one past a guard for a takeout, but his stone rolls too far to stick as shot. Ulsrud draws to the button to force Martin to take one, but that’s no victory for Norway: they’re running out of time. Canada 6, Norway 3.

Tenth end

Yes, Norway has the hammer. No, it’s not easy to see how they can possibly pull this out. Martin’s rink has been performing very well here today, and on the rare instances when a Canadian has botched a shot, another Canadian has been there to bail him out. The Peeling of the Guards begins, with each shot bringing Martin and his team one stone closer to gold. Meanwhile, the search for Cheryl Bernard continues. Most logical location: in every middle-aged man’s dirty thoughts.

The Norwegians smile as the crowd begins to sing O Canada. They know they are beaten. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper scratches the back of his head and wonders if any amount of national glory can be worth sitting next to Dick Pound for this long.

Norway lies two with one rock apiece remaining. Martin throws the stone that will win gold for him, for his team and for Canada. The boys sweep. The crowd roars. Let the manly hugging begin! Canada 6, Norway 3.




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LIVE BLOG Men’s Curling: Canada 6, Norway 3 (F)

  1. This should be a good one. Martin is arguably the best in the world when he's on. I think the big advantage Canada has in these things is that they're ALWAYS aware how good they have to be to win. To even get here Martin has to go through a ton of world class teams to win the Canadian trials. Hell, look at the amount of talent at the Brier and the Scotties. Most of those teams would challenge for Gold here.

  2. Whats a hammer?

    I was watching the women play yesterday hammering and peeling. Its very confusing but Vancougar was great even if she never smiles.

  3. Scott,
    Not sure if you're aware, but your brother is on Twitter trying to usurp your idea of blogging curling.

  4. Enter text right here! ,Yes Bernard is an eight. But Martin who is always depicted as the "old man" of curling and Canada's team is in fact younger than Cheryl – by a month or so. So let's give him an 8 as well and they can decide the pulchritude winner in extra ends!

    • Martin was only 25 when he won his first Brier. Insane.

  5. If I could hire Vic Rauter to do play by play of my day to day life, I'd do it.

  6. So, we just tied the record for most gold medals by a country in a single Winter Olympic Games.

    I had hoped we would win more medals overall in Vancouver, but I did NOT see THAT coming. That many gold medals makes this a very successful Olympics in my opinion. Well done Team Canada!!!

  7. Making fun of the medal curling is pretty much all that's worth doing. Neither Norberg nor Martin won because of curling excellence. Neither soared above rocks and ice with shots that make us ooh with awe and want to see the replay ten times and show our wives and the dog how awesome these curlers are. Nope. They won only because their screwups didn't net out to quite as bad as those of Bernard and Ulsrud. It would have been grand to see Bernard and Norberg, and Martin and Ulsrud show some respect and even affection for each other too. After all, they are the best four curlers the world has to offer right now and this is not a war. You'd think they'd admire in each other, what we admire and what makes each of them so special and worth watching for hours and hours in the last two weeks.

  8. One, she's more than an eight. Two, she didn't come to Vancouver to get ogled by dirty-thinking middle-aged men. Three… oh, this is Feschuk? All right, then…

  9. Now that the curling is over, could we have a viking funeral for the pants worn by the Norwegian team?

  10. Hey Scott.
    Glad you sat through the whole thing and congrats for admitting your lack of knowledge about the game. Now that's manly. Anyway, I read your column in the latest magazine and as usual there was a dig about curlers and their fitness. Now maybe Randy Ferbey and the great Eddie Werenich have some issues in that department, but not so with the Martin foursome and the Bernard rink. They are fit and as fit as any other Olympic athletes. Bernard runs marathons. Martin's team spends more time in the gym than you do at your keyboard.

    • Agreed. You have to see them in person to understand how fit they are. Frankly, I think this is a dangerous trend. First they stopped smoking while curling. And now they're not going to be fat? I'm losing interest.

      • You're losing interest in the MEN's game you mean…

  11. Where was Vancougar?

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