Olympic Insider Report – February 23rd

We were telling you all about the various Canadian connections on the women’s teams playing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and the Insider can tell you there are a few on the men’s teams as well. Starting with the French team skipped by Thomas Dufour, both their coach, Andre Ferland, and alternate, Raphael Mathieu, are from Quebec, and Ferland, of course, is better known as a curling inventor who produced the first light-weight broom handles through his company, Performance Brooms, that are now required equipment for elite curling teams. Lorne Hamblin of Morris, Man., is here coaching the Swiss men’s team (which, of course, used to be coached by none other than Russ Howard, who couldn’t commit to coaching at the Olympics because he’s working for CTV/TSN as a commentator). And that’s really about it; lots more for the women, by far! By the way, when alternate Kristy Moore got in the game for Team Canada the other day, she made history because she’s five and a half months pregnant. And wow, is she getting a lot of publicity as a result! The really big deal was that Oprah — yes, Oprah! — apparently is interested in doing a story on Kristy! Now that would be pretty cool! One man who can’t get enough of the curling here at the Vancouver Olympic Centre is Earle Morris! John’s dad, who’s universally known as The Pearl, has been here from start to finish with his daughters and Sarah and Marie (who are easy to pick out because they LOVE to cheer on their brother!). And the other day, Earle brought another high-profile team of curlers out to watch Team Canada in action: Rachel Homan’s junior women’s team from Ottawa. Earle coaches Rachel’s team, which recently won the gold medal at the M and M Meat Shops Canadian junior championships in Sorel-Tracy, Que. That means Rachel and her teammates, Emma Miskew, Laura Crocker and Lynn Kreviazuk will play for Canada at the world junior curling championships from March 6 to 14 in Flims, Switzerland, along with the Canadian junior men’s champions from Kitchener, Ont.: skip Jake Walker, third Craig Van Ymeren, second Geoff Chambers, lead Matthew Mapletoft and John Thompson. Speaking of high-profile curlers watching games here this week, Jacquie Armstrong, who plays lead for Kelly Scott’s team and who played at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Edmonton, took in some games early in the competition. As she was sitting in the stands, the Insider heard from reliable sources that a friendly fan started talking to Jacquie, and, once the fan found out that it was Jacquie’s first visit to the Vancouver Olympic Centre, started explaining the rules of curling to her! Wasn’t that nice? And while the Insider is at it, we may as well reveal that our reliable source was none other than Jacquie’s teammate and fellow front-ender Sasha Carter, who drove down from Kelowna with her husband to check out the action. The families are keeping busy in Vancouver, too. The Insider hears that Carolyn’s husband Rod checked out some hockey action earlier in the week, while their kids, Shea and Alexandria, visited Canada House with Jock Tyre, who’s helping the Canadian Curling Association make life easier here for the families. Everybody had a great time, and a big thanks to Jock for making it all work! Things are starting to get tenser here; the Canadian teams will play in the semifinals on Thursday, and now they’re one win away from a trip to the podium! So far, so good!