Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Opinion, and a PS from Riga

I'm on record with my opinions of the Continental Cup, the Canada v Rest of the World event, something along the lines of golf's Ryder Cup. As a promotional vehicle for the sport, it has done nothing to excite me. I once called it a charade - the result just depended, for the most part, on the last skins events and it seemed to be simply a revenue source, and a bit of fun, for the teams selected to play in it.

The problem, as I saw it, was that I didn't see it. The games could not be watched on television in the UK, or even on the computer. What was the point of the world governing body, the World Curling Federation, putting good money into this farce, when it was doing nothing to promote curling in this country or in Europe? Sure, the curlers in the teams enjoyed it, on and off the ice. Good for them. And so did the spectators who were able to get to the arena to see the games. They were the lucky ones.

It was marketed as an event to promote our sport, and it did not do that. It even soured me to the whole concept, because, despite the hype, there was no way for ME to watch and appreciate some of the best curlers and curling on show. For example, I love mixed doubles. Great idea to have this in the Con Cup, to showcase this discipline, gain support for the future perhaps in the Olympics and certainly in the Youth Olympics. But to hold it all 'in camera', without cameras as far as Europe was concerned, was a poor show. Waste of time, money, and effort, was my opinion.

I thought the WCF high heid yins had come round to this way of thinking too, as it was rumoured that the event was finished. There was to be no Con Cup during the Olympic year in any case, and it was unlikely to be going ahead next season for lack of funding and sponsorship.

All that has now changed. The announcement today, which you can read in its entirety on the WCF website here, says that the Con Cup will be back for another two, and perhaps three, years, thanks to the input of a major sponsor, the World Financial Group.

The first WFG Continental Cup, presented by Monsanto, will be staged in January of 2011. That's a different time in the season from past events, which were contested in late November or early December. Sites and exact dates have not yet been confirmed for the 2011 to 2013 events.

I welcome a new sponsor into curling. I wish the event every success. I mean it. I just hope the World Curling Federation and its partner in all this, the Canadian Curling Association, realise there's a whole curling world out there in Europe and in Asia which needs development. It should not just be a Canadian plaything. Perhaps Canadian curling does need promoted, but I think Canada's needs in this respect are minor compared with the rest of the world. Please let curlers and fans in other countries see what the Continental Cup is all about, and then I might just be more sympathetic to the whole idea.

PS. The Reform CC had a great day's sightseeing in and around Riga today. Here they all are, washed up on a beach at Jurmala. If they look cold, you are probably right, it was Baltic! The credit should go to our guide Olga (sixth from left in the front row, whose website is here), who was first class and put on a fabulous day which involved a walking tour of the old city, a coach ride, a beach walk, Latvian food in a modern shopping mall, and a boat trip on the river!

Pic © Skip Cottage. Click on the pic to open a larger size image.