- Rachel Homan’s team (ages 23-27) wins Scotties
- Brad Jacob’s Team (ages 27-33) wins Brier
- Niklas Edin Swedish Team (ages 24-25) wins Worlds
- Eve Muirhead (21) wins Worlds
Curling legitimized its place as a sport of athletes through the results of this transition year. The timing could not be better as the Olympics are less than a year away and contemplating growth of the number of golds to the sport. Although Martin, Stoughton and Howard continue to hold court at the 8-end events, they weakened during the weeklong Brier. The fittest survived as did the Scotties champions.
Interestingly, it was the seniors of Canada who pulled off the double gold. You’ll say we told you so about Canada’s dominance with those results, but that is just evidence that the players of the past had less requirement to be the fittest…but perhaps they were the craftiest.
Crafty is what Howard, Martin and Stoughton have, but Martin’s loss of Johnny Morris will further weaken his ability to win unless he comes up with a youthful, crafty and fit replacement. And Colleen Jones this year showed skills of the past, but next year will watch the youth of Nova Scotia vie for the Scotties, I suspect.
What I liked to see this year was the emergence of an active and youth oriented sport stateside. The USA has seen more dedicated ice added to the landscape and more in the offing. One off the podium at the US championships, 31 year old Tyler George enlisted the 25 year old Chris Plys to vice. And then there is the just out of juniors Dropkin team in the hunt for nationals and colleges. The Ontario Junior Curling Tour has been around since Wes Johnson invented it in 2004. Nine years and growth of competition was the breeding ground for Homan and Jacobs. Look at the website now. You will read names of future national champions.
Curling is healthy, growing in Ontario and Quebec and USA, and Mixed Doubles has become infectious in Europe as success (and Canada’s lack of success) breeds an excitement that will, in a generation, create a sport that becomes less dominated by the origin-claimant nations. Watch for another spurt of new curling fans and participants with the results coming in from Sochi.
Curling Clubs: prepare yourselves to grow your membership via the Olympic (and youthful) movement!