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Friday, December 7, 2012

Grassroots Curling goes behind the scenes at the Canada Cup

Curling is finally on TV again - the Master's (Slam event) from Brantford a month ago, and the Canada Cup (CCA Season of Champions event) from Moose Jaw a week ago. Yes, the season is off and running.

For me, the season has been off and running since the summer when I started my new job writing and editing stories for the CCA website, Dream job, what can I say?

I've been attending Season of Champions events for years, but this was the first time I had the chance to attend not as fan, but as a part of the well-oiled machine that is a championship event.

Some things I learned:

1. Curlers are the best

Jeff Stoughton undertakes another interview, this time with
Resby Coutts, aka "The Curler"
On and off the ice, the athletes were terrific. It's not a great feeling to lose a game (or games, in some cases) and have someone stick a microphone in your face and say, "So, tough game. What are your thoughts?" But the players did it anyway, disappointment or frustration showing, but making an effort. (Okay, there were a few bad moments - the occasional broom got smacked around, not gonna lie). And the ones who just couldn't face talking after one game made up for it after another. Impressive, all round.

2. Event host committees and volunteers are awesome

If you have ever organized a bonspiel at your curling club, you know how much work it is to make an event run smoothly and keep everyone happy (Does that ever happen??). Multiply that by thousands and you'll get a sense of the huge responsibility these organizers take on, and the number of people they have to serve, answer to, help, support, and just generally put up with. 

The Moose Jaw volunteers were always smiling, always helpful, always there, even if it meant sitting in a back hallway of a draughty arena on security duty, out of sight of the game. I can't say enough about the people who directed me, brought me hot drinks on the media bench, ran my interview requests down to the athletes, drove me between hotel and arena, served me food in The Patch (and retrieved my garbage - I mean, really? Can I move in with you please?) It was humbling, and very much appreciated. And in the larger picture - what a great event they put on!  How great? Attendance record - best Canada Cup ever.

The view from the media bench
3. It takes a lot of effort to produce 500 words of copy, photos, video etc. on deadline

Actually, I knew this already, but I wasn't prepared for the grind of those five days. Watch the game - that would be five concurrent games most of the time - take notes, write up snippets of action, try to stay warm, run downstairs at game end for media scrum, run back to watch other games, continue to try to stay warm, run back down for additional media scrums, run to media room to write up draw summary, edit copy, add photos and video links, post on website - by which time the next draw had begun and I had to start over again. (Thank goodness for the wonderful soup and those gigantic TV screens in The Patch!) Three times a day. When it was done, a midnight drive back to the hotel and fall into bed, ready to go the next day before light.  Loved. Every. Minute.

And the last thing I learned was....

4. Saskatchewan is flat.

 Just in case you didn't know. But it's full of great people and - last week - some wonderful curling. 

Driving from Regina to Moose Jaw across the flat, flat, snowy, flat prairie...

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