Rock on!

March 6, 2010

Get it?  Rock on?  Yes, this post is all about curling!

Yesterday, the boys & I had an experience of a lifetime – we went to Halifax and met Kevin Martin and the whole Canadian Olympic Gold Medal Winning Curling Team.  Not only did we get to talk with them, get photos with them, and end up being interviewed for television, but the boys got to hold the Olympic Gold Medal!  (Sorry, but that’s so exciting, I think it needs to be capitalized!)

This plan all came together at the last minute.  I had known a couple of weeks ago that the Hot Shots Competition would be happening at the Brier yesterday afternoon and that it was general admission.  I thought about taking the boys, but it didn’t go much further than that.  Thursday night, one of our guests whose children are also pre-Junior curlers, asked if we would be going and told me that Kevin Martin was going to be there signing autographs with his gold medal.  When I heard that, my mind went into overdrive, trying to figure out how we could get there.

I first asked the boys if they’d like to go?  Duh.  Then I called my mother to see if she would be able to take the girls for the day?  No problem.  Next, I called the boys’ curling coach, Todd, to make sure curling was at four and explained to him what we were going to do, and that we would be back in time for practice.  As soon as I hung up, I realized that his daughter Lindsay, on the boys’ team, might like to come too, so I called back and invited her along.  Lastly, I called Madison’s family (whom I’d never met because D’Arcy usually looks after curling practice pick-up and my parents usually drop them off) and invited her so that the whole team could go together.  It was somewhat awkward, since I don’t know how willing I’d be to send the boys off to the city with strangers, but at least they had met D’Arcy and were able to find out more about us through Todd.  She was so excited to go, and I told her mother that she was welcome to come along too if she would like.

In the morning, we discovered that it wasn’t just Kevin Martin, but the whole Canadian curling team  that would be there.  I was happy to see that the snow had stopped and the roads were clear.  When talking to my mother about our plan, we made the connection that she had actually taught Madison in Grade Primary and that she was one of my mother’s favorite students!  Small world! Our friend Hope (who is 80) arrived at the door with a newspaper clipping for them to autograph.  I offered that she could come along, and she laughed but said she couldn’t stand that long.

With great excitement, we went to the school to pick up Evan, Alex & Lindsay.  Evan brought along a biography he’d written of Kevin Martin in the hopes he would sign that.  Lindsay’s mom (Alex’s teacher) was there to see them off.

The drive to Halifax was smooth, with the kids chattering away excitedly in the back.  We were able to find a parking spot with little problem and went through the underground tunnels to the Metro Centre.  Not knowing if we needed a ticket even though it was general admission, we stopped at the Box Office to inquire about protocol.  We were told that Team Martin would be signing autographs at 11:30 and the doors would open then.  I asked if that was what the group of people waiting by the doors was and the man told me yes, but that the team would be signing on the Brunswick St. Concourse so it would probably be faster to wait up there.  When we got to the Brunswick Street door, we realized that people there were waiting outside.  We made the decision to go back to where we were, inside & warm, figuring that we were early enough that we would surely get to meet him.

We got in line and then the kids went with Madison’s mom in search of a bathroom while I stayed in line.  They didn’t find a bathroom, but they did find the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame!  It seemed appropriate to get their photo taken in front of the curling display:

And since we still haven’t totally come down off Olympic Fever, we thought we’d get a team photo in front of Sidney Crosby’s mother’s dryer, complete with dents from his hockey pucks!

It didn’t take long before we got the kids to come back downstairs as the doors would soon open.  When they did, we all went upstairs in a nice, orderly fashion, and got into a new line – about 20 people away from Team Martin!!

In line, the team is sitting in front of the blue background

It's almost our turn!!

An Olympic Gold Medal!! They are quite heavy - Kevin Martin told them they can only wear them a short time before their necks get sore!

They were all so great with the kids and seemed so pleased to see young curlers!

Johnny Mo told them they HAD to be holding the medal in the photo! (It wasn't hard to convince them!)

Kevin Martin leaned into Evan and said "Your mother's hands are shaking!" I think Madison's mom got a better one...

One of the tv reporters caught sight of Kevin taking an interest in what Evan was showing him.  It was the biography he had written (which) Kevin did sign for him.

A drawing of Team Martin on the Podium, beating Team Howard in the Olympic Trials. Not sure Team Howard would have liked this picture so much!

Alex was somewhat put-out that I chose Evan to speak on camera rather than him because he considers himself the better speaker.  I tried to explain that Evan is the one who has been following curling since he was four years old and has been curling for three years.  Also, Evan is the “skip” of their team and had written the project that got them noticed.  I think he understood.

Getting miked

Being interviewed for television

After this television interview, they were also interviewed by the Canadian Curling Association’s reporter.

I think that our nephew Chris would be happy to know that on camera, Evan commented that he got interested in curling to start with because his cousin played and he loved to watch him!  Chris played on Team Fitzner-Leblanc up until he moved to Calgary last year.  Chris & Ian have curled together since they were seven years old and dreamed of going to the Brier.  I would imagine that it’s hard for Chris to be so far away right now; I know it’s hard for his mom, Kim, that he’s not here sharing this with Ian & the team!  We were lucky enough to run into Kim at the beginning of the day, so I got a few shots of her with the team too:

After all the excitement, we went inside and found our seats for the “Hot Shots” Skills Competition.  Each curler on each team plays six specific shots that are worth points.  The top eight highest scorers go on to the finals. (today)  The second for Team Manitoba got an almost un-heard of 29/30.  They played six teams at a time and Team Nova Scotia was in the second group, so we were only able to stay long enough to watch them warm-up, but at least they saw us and knew we were there wishing them well!  We got a text from our niece, Meghan, when we got home that Ian is in second place with 25/30 going into the finals!

While the first group was curling, we noticed that Team Gushue was sitting behind us.  (For those non-curlers, they are representing Newfoundland, but were the Gold Medal winners in the 2006 Olympics!)  We went over to get their autographs and while there, the guys asked the kids who they were rooting for?  Madison declared, “PEI!”, while the boys stated, “Nova Scotia!”  The Team laughed and one said, “Well then no autographs for you!”  They realized what they had done and everyone had a great laugh!  We got their autographs, but unfortunately didn’t get a photo.

We got to see how they re-surface the ice, in between groups.  It was fun to watch them shave, pebble & “rock” each sheet of ice.  Even more fun was learning that team Gushue likes to throw around the football while they’re waiting!


"Pebbling" the ice

"Rocking" the ice

Team Howard

Brad Gushue

We gave a huge cheer when Ian & team hit the ice!

Taking photos of their heros

Too soon, we had to get ready to leave so that we’d be home in time for – curling practice!  We had a fun, but windy drive home and the kids were still bouncing when we got to the Curling Club.  Todd was able to get some practice out of them.

When practice was over, we all went upstairs to the bar to watch their television segment.  They were very excited and the men who were there having a drink were teasing them, asking for their autographs!

It was such a fantastic experience.  We all tried to stay awake to see them again at eleven, but it was futile.  Too much excitement and we were asleep in our chairs.  Good thing we taped it!  Now to practice, practice, practice and get ready for their first competition as a team.  I wonder if we’ll be seeing them at the Brier or the Olympics someday?

Oh yeah – hurry hard!!