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Olympic Insider Report – February 26th

Well, you can’t win ’em all, but what an amazing effort from Team Canada today in the gold-medal game. The whole country should be proud of what Cheryl, Susan, Carolyn, Cori, Kristie, coach Dennis and coach Elaine accomplished at the Vancouver Olympic Centre. A silver medal is the culmination of three and a half years of hard work for this team, and they should enjoy every minute of it with their friends and family!

And the Insider knows that all of the ladies would want me to thank their families and friends for all the support, all the kind wishes, all the emails and all the text messages of support that they’ve received since they started their Olympic journey two months ago by winning the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials. It’s been a great ride and they couldn’t have done it without your support and love.

The Insider saw a media crush at the rink for the final, which is what you’d expect for the medal round, but really, it’s been a media circus here all week! Newspapers from around the world have been covering curling, which is great to see. There were stories in Sports Illustrated, and even a long feature story on Kevin Martin in the New York Times, which is incredible for the sport. There was even a story in the Wall Street Journal!

The television coverage has been amazing, too. The Insider was told by someone in the know that Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium (CTV, TSN and a pile of other networks), which served as host broadcaster for the Vancouver Olympics, made curling one of their biggest priorities, second only to men’s hockey, in terms of devoting broadcast time and resources. That’s a great thing for curling, and the ratings have been terrific from start to finish here.

Even more interesting is how the foreign companies have been broadcasting curling.

NBC from the United States seemed to fall in love with curling — especially Cheryl! — as the Olympics went on, and they had a couple familiar faces on the microphones in Don Duguid of Winnipeg and Colleen Jones of Halifax. Both used to work on CBC’s curling broadcasts, and of course, both are former world champions for Canada.

The broadcasts going back to Switzerland featured Luzia Ebnoether doing commentary, and Luzia, you might remember, won a silver medal for Switzerland (with Mirjam Ott as her third) at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake.

And the lady she lost to, Scotland’s Rhona Martin, also was working her doing colour commentary for BBC. It was interesting that the man doing the play by play for the British broadcasts was Steve Cram, who was a world-class middle-distance runner who once held the world record in the mile and the 1,500 metres! Not sure how much he knows about curling, though!

Even more encouraging was that other countries were broadcasting curling for the first time, including the Netherlands, so that’s great for the future of the sport.

By the way, the Insider needs to clarify something that was blogged earlier this week. Rachel Homan’s junior team, which won the gold medal at the M and M Meat Shops Canadian junior championships last month, was here at the Vancouver Olympic Centre because it won the Dominion/TCA junior bonspiel earlier this year, and one of the prizes was a trip to the Olympics. Talk about a great prize!

Hope everybody enjoys the men’s gold-medal game today!