The Canadian Open in the Rear View Mirror

The second of this season’s Grand Slam events is now history and congratulations to both Team Howard and Jacobs, both from “the centre of the universe (ON)”. I watched as many games as Sportsnet broadcast, which of course was not all draws and this event caused me to reflect on both the positive and negative side of the ledger.

I’m sure most viewers would agree that the “rookie” in the booth, Richard Hart, did an excellent job considering it was his first time out of the gate! The combination of Rob, Mike & Richard worked for me. Does anyone know what has happened to Joan McCusker in all of this? If you do, let us know in a comment.

The insights provided by Richard and Mike were entertaining, in just the right amounts, and in most cases educational to the recreational curler watching at home (although I feel they [including the TSN triumvirate] still miss golden opportunities to explain the “why” as they illustrate the “how”). The only downside to Richard’s on air performance was in the final game when he “lectured” coaches about making sure there is a communication protocol in place to relay relevant information to the person in the house from the brushers as the stone makes its way down the ice. Heh Richard, I don’t know of any coach who wouldn’t have covered that with his/her team!

I hope all curlers watching noticed that in virtually every case in which a guard was played, the skip/third placed the target brush wide enough so that the stone had to be “brushed” to the desired location. Did you get that? The stone had to be brushed to arrive at the desired location! If there is one shot that is played most poorly by club teams it’s executing guards!

Most guards come to rest past the desired location. This is especially true for the placement of center line guards. If your team does not have last stone advantage and your first stone of the end is meant to come to rest on the centre line, you absolutely, positively MUST make that shot!!! Failure to do so will colour the entire end. I see so many club teams play center line guards with minimal ice and as the stone reaches its destination, the team is “hoping” it comes to rest on the centre line. If you have to brush the stone to the centre line you will be much more successful at playing that critical first shot of the end. Placing guards should be an integral part of every team’s practice regimen!

The same is true when you play a guard to provide protection for a stone in the house. Most guards of this nature are positioned in conjunction with a guard that’s already protecting one of the rotational paths. Rarely do you try to guard a stationary stone with one other stone. Remembering that you don’t guard the stone, you guard the path to the stone, placing that second guard should leave an agonizingly small port so that both paths to the stationary stone are protected even though the opposition make be able to “see” the target stone. But so often that second guard over curls leaving one rotation open for the opposition to remove the stone you wanted to guard.

On the negative side of the ledger were the number of missed shots that occurred following a miss by the opposition (see the blog of 11.22.12 entitled “Performance Benchmarks“). I realize those are execution errors not mental mistakes but at the elite level, they’re unconscionable!

By the way, the percentage of blanked ends that we’re successful in producing a multiple score for this event was 31!

On balance, The Canadian Open in beautiful Kelowna, BC was worth the watch!