12 March 2011

Watching The Brier from South Canada

It is said that, in men's curling, the biggest honor... sorry, honour.... is not to win the World Championship, but the Canadian National Championship, known as the Tim Hortons Brier, because the level of competition is higher.

That statement is less true than it used to be, but it's not entirely wrong. Recall that last year's Olympic and world champions were different teams.... from Canada.  The world champion (Kevin Koe) wasn't even strong enough in his provincial tournament to MAKE the Brier!  The silver medalist both times?  Thomas Ulsrud from Norway.  A look at the World Curling Tour standings shows that the top five teams are Canadian - two of them did NOT qualify for the Brier!

Naturally, I want to watch this tournament, despite the fact that that there are no fun pants allowed.

These championships are mostly streamed on the web by Canadian broadcaster TSN.  As you have heard in my previous laments, these webcasts, while great in Canada, are only available in Canada.  As you can see by the title of this blog, I am not in Canada.

And yet I've been watching the Brier all week.  Using the TSN webstream.  And how did I do this?

My first method was to travel to the coffee/donut chain Tim Hortons.  As many of you know, a full 10% of all coffee consumed in Canada comes from Tim Hortons.  Tim Horton, a hockey player with a passion for donuts, really created a sensation in Canada with his little side venture (that distracted from his hockey career so much he had to quit).

Tim Horton was a Buffalo Sabre.  So he did open some of his little shops in the Buffalo, NY area.  And when Wendy's temporarily owned Tim Hortons and expanded the chain further, Rochester, where I live, was the first place they looked.  And, despite failures in the US elsewhere, they are wildly successful in Rochester.

And when you go to a Tim Hortons with WiFi, you're in Canada.  You're using the Canadian Internet.  So I was able to watch from there.  And have a nice cup of coffee and RRRRoll Up The Rim To Win.

The second is Canadian proxy.  There are several services available that will allow you to send all your Internet traffic through their servers.  These types of services are usually used to get around corporate firewall blocks.  In my case, I used it to make TSN think I was Canadian.

I'm not watching the Brier now, but I've left the proxy in place.  I've been enjoying Canadian Yahoo! as well.

I'll post more about the Brier a bit later.  Here are some quick notes:

- Team Brad Jacobs from Northern Ontario really impressed me with both their play and their attitude toward their fans, and they deserve kudos for this.  And they were so humble - they openly admitted their faults during matches. Had they gotten a better start to the Brier, we'd still be watching them.  I hope to really get to curl with them sometime. Probably won't happen, though.

- Brad Gushue is really impressing me.  He's been raising his game all week, and getting better.  I called Team Glenn Howard as champions before this started, and I'm not ready to come off that prediction yet - they've also been on their game - but Gushue's rink can play with anyone, period.

- Speaking of Glenn Howard - such a nice guy.  Offering to pay 1/2 of PEI's fine for quitting a match too early (considering he benefited from a shorter match and therefore got more rest) was a really generous thing to do.  He also looks like he's having a lot of fun while he's curling.

- I still can't stand Kevin Martin - he has a tendency to be arrogant during his games, although I've enjoyed hearing his conversations with John Morris during matches; they've made him sound humble.

- Jeff Stoughton is even worse - I watched him demand two measures of a stone - he was already sitting two and wanted more.  He managed to win that match, but his arrogance and incredulous reaction gave me a reason to root against him.  I don't care how hot he is.

- BROOM BANGING - Enough of it!

I have to get back to the action now.  I'll come back to this subject later, though.


  1. Tim Hortons by you has Wi-Fi? - that's the one thing missing from Tims up here! I also love how that puts you in 'Canada'!
    On Twitter I've been discussing with a few people how we think maybe TSN should be streaming the weekend games as well - they did stream the final of the World Jrs hockey in December, so why not the Brier (feels weird to type that without a # in front, you can tell where I've been spending my time!)

    I agree with you on Martin, although I'm not so sure about Stoughton yet, would like to see Howard win this afternoon and get to play Gushue and I'd be happy with either one in the final, although Gushue is the only one not to win a Brier yet, so wouldn't that be nice. Definitely agree with you on the broom banging, makes our nice polite, gentlemanly sport sport seem not so much like that...

    Really loved the chance to watch Team Jacobs play, was great to meet them for a few seconds at the signing too. And I know it's ridiculously expensive & I think that's why I'm going to end up not being able to go, but the Harden brothers are celebrity skips at the Capital One Celebrity Bonspiel in June!!

  2. Kevin Martin is extremely arrogant but given his resume I can forgive and understand that, he's won everything including Olympic Gold so in a way he has the right to feel he's the best.

    Stoughton on the other hand just rubs me the wrong way, he's won one brier almost 10 years ago but his attitude completely turns me off, I almost always find myself rooting against Manitoba.

    Being from Ontario myself I'm rooting for Glenn this afternoon and obviously to win the whole thing, Martin seems to be his nemesis over the years but if he can squeak past him in the 3/4 game I make Ontario the favourite to win it all at the brier.

    I also agree with your statement on Team Jacobs, I really liked how they used social media to get in touch with their fan base, very cool.

  3. Tony, I can't hate Stoughton. He gives me something to shoot for in my curling career, a successful 360 degree delivery.


  4. Bob, I'll give you that one. That is a very cool delivery. Maybe I'll have to try that sometime.

  5. Kevin Martin was arrogant before he won Olympic Gold. He is really good at curling, sure. He could do well with a little more humility.

  6. Cheryl - not all Tim Hortons have WiFi. I'd say about 1/2 of them do. And when I was in Oshawa, I was rather upset to find that they didn't.

    I know Gushue hasn't won a Brier, but he has won Olympic Gold. He had to win Olympic trials for that, which I have to believe is just as hard or harder to win.

  7. If you meet Stoughton, I think you'll find younger mistaking arrogance for a combination of focus and shyness. I was at his first Brier, and have been at an array if live events he's been at, and there are very few curlers who are better, in a one-on-one setting with the fans, particularly the younger ones.

    And if you think Kevin Martin is arrogant now, you should have seen him 20 years ago, when he didn't have near the cause for arrogance. That said, he has done a TON for the sport, from raising it's profile to being an ambassador for it to ensuring those curling in the Brier are appropriately compensated for it. And he's another one who, on the ice, can seem a little abrasive, but off the ice, is a pretty fantastic guy.

    But I'm totally with you on the broom banging. It seemed to be back in vogue this year, and I'm not OK with that.

  8. I certainly hope you are right about Stoughton, since he is representing Canada now. Time will tell, I guess.

    I did see Kevin Martin 9 years ago, at the Olympics in Salt Lake, and he was arrogant then. In that case, his arrogance is what cost him the gold - it didn't help that he ran into Pål Trulsen. Gold was his. He lost it.

    I cannot, however, disagree with the fact that Martin has done a lot for the sport. He really has. Personal experience off the ice, however, has not thus far been as positive with him as with others.