Archive for the ‘Random Sports’ Category

The Stone Has Been Cast

Posted: March 6, 2017 in Random Sports

Little did I know then what I would come to know as the week went along. It hasn’t stopped yet.

Through the magic of television I have been a casual-at-best, distant viewer of the sport of curling. I hadn’t heard the year-old news until this past fall that the U.S. Curling Nationals were being held in Everett for their 2017 rendition. I knew I had to go check it out. My dad was interested to see it in person, too, so on day two of the event we went to the noon Men’s draw. We didn’t know where we should get our seats and debated it for a few seconds. He and I ultimately decided that we should sit front row. As a couple of first timers we might as well get close to the action.

Walking into that arena and seeing ice is nothing new to me. I’ve witnessed hundreds of hockey games in there and have even played on the rink myself. However, to walk in and set my eyes on five separate sheets of freshly painted, perfectly prepared curling rinks was nothing short of awesome. That only helped to amp up my excitement that was already pressing the boundaries of the roof.

Dad and I took our seats along side Sheet A, just above the house of the odd ends. There were just a couple of minutes remaining in practice, which would lead into the team introductions. Little did I know then what I would come to know as the week went along.

I was about to witness my first live curling draw and it would be Team Fenson versus Team Shuster. Again, I have always been merely a casual, uninformed, television-only observer of the sport, and I could not be anymore bummed looking back now on that match-up. Even the simplest of self-education would have properly prepared me for this contest.

To me, these were just a couple of curling teams playing their professional sport. While that is true, the actual truth of the matter runs much deeper than that. I was watching a pair of skips who use to be teammates as John Shuster in the earlier parts of his career played the role of Lead for Pete Fenson. They won, by my rough calculations, no fewer than three times together at this very same competition. They competed in multiple international competitions together. Oh, and they may or may not have made some history in 2006 when they played as Team USA in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Well, you probably guessed that, yes, they did make history by becoming the first American team to ever medal in the Olympics when they were able to wear bronze medals around their necks for the trip home. But, wait – there’s more: another part of those teams was Joe Polo who is now a member of Team Shuster.

Got all of that? Don’t worry. I’m not so sure I follow it completely, either. I’ve pored over a couple of hours of research into all of this and I’m still finding all of the connections to the dots; pieces to the puzzles. Such as when tuned into the online streaming of the World Junior Championships from South Korea the week following the nationals and seeing Graem Fenson representing the red, white, and blue as a member of Team USA. He is, of course, following in his father’s footsteps, but, not so obviously, following in the footsteps of his older brother Alex who helps create the father-son tandem making up one-half of the squad bearing the family name.

Honestly, I don’t recall how the game in front of me played out. I only remember Team Shuster picking up the win for the second time on a week that would see them go an undefeated 11-0 to win another national title. With four other matches going on simultaneously there was no shortage of action to try and follow. Some games were close up until the final end, and others were conceded just past the midway point. It was an unbelievably cool two-and-a-half hours.

As Dad and I walked out of the arena I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it back for any more of the excitement. Thankfully, things worked out and we were back for a Men’s semi-final draw later in the week. Brady Clark’s team came into the competition as defending champion and had some hometown leverage behind them. Members Philip Tilker and Colin Hufman are from Seattle, and the team’s Skip makes his residence in Lynnwood. It made for a great atmosphere inside of the building with a heavy crowd favorite, but it was not to be for the local hopefuls who would back up their 2016 championship with a third place finish.

I didn’t get to catch any of the Women’s matches all week, and wasn’t able to make it out for the two finals on Saturday. I wish I could have witnessed the Men’s finish as Shuster pulled off an incredible shot with the final stone of the final end to take the victory. There couldn’t have been a better way to cap off a great week of competition.

Though I wasn’t there physically for a majority of it, I would have the broadcast streaming on my computer at work so I could at least listen to it when I wasn’t able to be looking. I even pulled it up on my phone one day so I could listen while driving. Little did I know.

For a sport I have never tried, even I find it somewhat difficult to understand how engrossed I have become with it. Then again, maybe it’s not so difficult to understand. You only have to observe the facets of the sport to be left in awe. The immense physical ability required to simply deliver a stone properly pales in comparison to the even more incredible physical ability required to successfully sweep. Then, you have to account for the mental abilities involved with the chess game that plays out once the stones get beyond the hog line. It makes for a fascinating, exciting sport. One that I certainly hope to try.

Luckily, the Granite Curling Club of Seattle is close by. Unluckily, the curling season is winding down and the opportunity to attend an open house has past. Oh well, it’s something to look forward to next fall when the season kicks back up, or a good reason to try rounding up a group and getting out there that way. I can only imagine that it’s as addicting as it appears it would be. All because of one random week in February when the Granite Curling Club brought 18 of the nations best curling teams to town.

I started the week as a casual-at-best, distant viewer of the sport. Little did I know then what I would come to know as the week went along. It hasn’t stopped yet.

 

 

 

 

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After months of warm, fuzzy feelings about the proposed new arena in south downtown Seattle, someone voiced opinions that were viewed as being the complete opposite.  The Seattle Mariners’ concerns are very valid if you ask me.  Absolutely no where are they on record as saying they do not want another arena – it’s just arena supporters trying to put a spin on their statements.  All they brought up was potential issues with where it would be built.

The Mariners have publicly come out to say they don’t support the location of the proposed new arena.  That desired location would be just a couple of blocks south of Safeco Field – the M’s home (which of course is next door to the other stadium – CenturyLink Field – home of the Seahawks).  Personally, I agree with everything the Mariners organization had to say because their main concerns are from the traffic standpoint.

My very first thought a few months ago when word of the arena broke (again) was how crappy that location would be.  The main reason I don’t go to Mariner games more often is because of how big of a pain in the ass it can be to get to the stadium district.  Then what happens when people get there?  Will another parking structure be built?  Or a large parking lot on the site?  I know there are garages at both of the existing stadiums, but each of them can only hold 2,000 vehicles.  Assuming this is (on the low end) an 18,000 seat barn and there are at least two people in each vehicle that leaves another 5,000 vehicles looking for parking.  There are numerous parking lots but games would be during Winter months and most attendees would definitely prefer being under cover.  Now factor in two of those buildings in use at the same time.  Yes, it isn’t very often that events would be going on simultaneously, but that brings up the other valid point from the Ms: the scheduling of events.

While I don’t know the exact legal terms and conditions, the city has regulations on what games/events can and can’t be going on at the same time in the stadiums (to my knowledge games can’t be doubled-up but other events can such as years past with Ms at Safeco and Supercross across the street or a game in one stadium and an event in the CenturyLink Events Center).  There are also conditions regulating how many day games the Mariners can host during the season.  As far as we know, the exact list of these “dos and don’ts” could be pages upon pages in length and that’s when there are only two buildings involved.  With the new arena, that would require a third building thrown into the mix with lots of rewriting and head-scratching over amendments to the current regulations.

All of that brings us to the fact that all of these points only pertain to events specifically related to the sports venues.  What about all of the everyday happenings such as already established businesses and the Port of Seattle also being a huge player in that neighborhood?  The only shining light out of this whole situation is that we are only in the thought process of the planning stages.  There are still many months – if not years – to get it all ironed out.  My big question that comes from all of this is do we really need to build another arena?  Sure Seattle is a solid sports city/market but do we really need two stadiums and two arenas?  Key Arena is essentially done for as their only tenants are the Storm of the WNBA.  Why spend all of this money on a new building when maybe half to three-quarters of that money could be put toward completely revamping the existing arena?  It would be a cost effective move and with a private investor in the mix it could work to the advantage of keeping running costs/rent fees down.

In the end though, what do I know?  I’m not a politician or a millionaire.  I have no say in zoning laws or event regulations.  I don’t have the pocket book to fund the cure-all for any potential traffic snarls.  But what I do have is a love for the sport of hockey and the desire to have a team (somewhere) in the area.  I am a Mariners fan (though sometimes that’s hard to admit) and their comments this week do nothing to change my opinion of them.  As it plays out, I definitely foresee the arena being built in the stadium district.  I see as much money – if not more in the long run – spent on traffic studies and solutions than on the building.

In the meantime, let’s support the idea of an arena whether it’s built new or a redone current facility.  Let’s continue to support all of the teams and organizations affected by any future decisions.  Each one of us is a fan of sports and there’s no denying that we all win by helping our area professional sports scene grow.