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.