Featured Curling Athlete: Craig Savill

Front-enders in curling are typically anonymous — players who do the sweeping and let the skip and third make the shots that get shown on the highlight clips.

Craig Savill in action at the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier (Photo Michael Burns)

But Craig Savill is one of the handful of front-enders — along with his teammate Brent Laing — who has risen to the level of curling celebrity. That’s what years of curling in the spotlight on the best men’s teams ever put together will do for you. Savill throws lead rocks for Glenn Howard’s powerhouse team from Ontario, and has been one of the most visible front-enders in the sport for more than a decade. He won a pair of Canadian and world junior championships throwing second stone for John Morris back in the day, and when that team graduated from juniors, it made an immediate splash in men’s play, winning the Ontario men’s title in 2002 and going on to finish second to Randy Ferbey in the ’02 Brier at the Saddledome in Calgary. When Morris moved to Alberta, Savill couldn’t have found a better landing spot, hooking up with Howard to form a team with Laing at second and Richard Hart at vice-skip, a team that built up a fine collection of Brier Purple Hearts and claimed the 2007 Brier and world championship. Along the way, Savill was a Brier first-team all-star lead twice (2007, 2008) and was named to the second all-star team on three occasions (2006, 2010, 2011). When he’s not competing on the Asham World Curling Tour or in the Tim Hortons Brier playdowns, Savill and his teammates (Wayne Middaugh replaced Richard Hart at third this season, and that team will be at the World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling, beginning Jan. 12 in Langley, B.C.) do their part to build the sport. The team holds its annual Team Glenn Howard Fantasy Curling Camp in September, where curlers of all skill levels get a chance to learn from the pros. As well, Savill and his wife Karen annually host a charity Christmas fundraising bonspiel in Ottawa. Birthplace: Lahr, Germany Hometown: Ottawa Curling Club: Ottawa Curling Club Current Team: Team Glenn Howard Position: Lead Delivery: Right Nickname: Sav Quick Hits with Craig Savill Do you have any superstitions? “I’m too forgetful to have any superstitions. Although a new teammate of mine (that would be third Wayne Middaugh) is teaching me not to be superstitious but instead ‘just be careful.’ ” Three people, living or not, whom you would invite to a dinner party. “Barack Obama, Tiger Woods and Chris Farley.” If you could be a star any other sport, what would it be, and why? “It would have to be golf. You get to spend your days outside in nice weather, travelling the world and get paid millions. It couldn’t be any more different than curling.” If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why? “There are a few things that I think need to change but one of them is the draw for hammer at the start of the game. Here is how I would do it: First team has a seven-minute practice, then throws its draw to the button. If they cover the pin then they throw again (different shooter). If the first team covers a second time then they wait until the other team practises and throws its draw to the button. If both teams cover twice, then teams alternate until there is no longer a tie. I really don’t buy the fact that this will take too long. Drawing for hammer has been in place for over 10 years at the Slams, and I can only remember it getting to the seconds once. Hammer in the round robin should always come down to skill based on the current draw to the button, not previous game’s draws.” What music, if any, do you like to listen to before a game? “I’m pretty much into anything with a good beat. Throw in some bass and I’m good to go. I tried listening to music on the way to the arena at the ’09 Trials, which worked great until the final.” Favourite: — Website? “www.teamglennhoward.com” — Order from Tim Hortons? “Medium coffee with a little bit of milk and sugar.” — Vacation destination? “Monte Argentario, Italy, or Vernazza, Italy. Two of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.” — Junk food? “I don’t eat a lot of junk food but if dill-pickle chips are in front of me I’ll eat the entire bag.” Do you have any pet peeves? “B.O.! Why is it so hard to shower with soap? I’m at the point in my life that if you have B.O. I’m calling you out. I also hate curling teams that don’t quit when down a bundle; the excuse “oh, we may as well play one more end since the rocks have to get down to the other end anyways” drives me bananas. Let me say it now: Quit and I’ll kick the rocks down for you and buy you a drink in the bar.” Person who had the most influence on your curling career. And why? “Well, if it wasn’t for a couple of my skips making a bunch of shots, namely John Morris and especially Glenn Howard, I doubt I’d even be filling out this questionnaire. However I think my dad has had the most influence in my curling career. He got me started and interested in the game when I was 10 years old. Twenty-two years later, we are still practising together. I think I have finally gotten the upper hand on him in our one-on-one matches.” First thing on your Bucket List? “Heli-skiing. Well actually Heli-Boarding. I’m an average snowboarder but would still love to be dropped from a helicopter at the top of a mountain surrounded by fresh powder.” Favourite pastime between draws at cashspiels? “One of my favourite parts of curling is napping between games. After having a baby last December, I have come to appreciate any chance to sleep.” Mixed doubles in the Olympics — thumbs up? Thumbs down? And why? “I have mixed opinions of this (pun intended). I think it’s pretty gimmicky and really doesn’t help our sport evolve. Having to get up, chase after your rock and sweep looks ridiculous on TV. I think it’s great for events like the Continental Cup but for the biggest sporting event on the planet? I’m not so sure. And let’s be honest here, I’m really just a sweeper on Glenn Howard’s team. You take sweeping out of the game and I’m just another club curler dominating the Wednesday night cash league at the Ottawa CC. On the other hand, it’s another shot at making the Winter Olympics, which is a good thing, I guess.” One thing most people don’t know about you? “Two of my best friends in Grade 6 broke my jaw while playing baseball. I was playing catcher in a practice game just before school started. While one of my friends threw the ball home from third base my other friend (running home) decided to plow into me, knocking my glove so that ball hit me square in the jaw. I dropped like a stone and blacked out (another interesting fact about me is that I clearly have a glass jaw).” Your ideal shot to win an Olympic gold medal: “I would love to have some sort of dramatic shot to win the Olympic gold medal, such as a draw to the pin, a raise double or an in-off. However, I’d take any shot to win the gold medal, especially with the Wizard of Winter, Glenn Howard throwing it.”  

Skip Glenn Howard confers with long-time lead Craig Savill at the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier (Photo Michael Burns)