Sunday, 19 April 2015

Hurry. Hard.

Up Close and Personal

As I did six years ago, I volunteered to work again at the Brier (the Canadian national mens curling championship) in the press room. My duties were different though: last time, I worked exclusively on The Tankard Times, the daily paper put out by the Canadian Curling Association (now Curling Canada, where you can find definitions for all the technical terms I use, if you don't know curling).

I did everything from layout, to photography, writing, and editing then, but this year, most of my job consisted of being responsible for the care and feeding of the TSN on-air staffer who monitored the two sheets that weren't being covered live.

This meant checking with her every couple of ends to see if she needed something to drink or eat, and then fetching it: not exactly rocket science, but it gave me a chance to prowl around the Saddledome with my camera. My other assignments were to collect the media request sheets (press folks had to write on a form who they were and who they wanted to talk to at the end of each draw), organize them (some players were popular), and hand them out as they came off the ice surface -- and to cover events like "Up Close and Personal" down in the Purple Heart Lounge to shoot for the paper. That's where I caught Team Prince Edward Island (above): nice thoughtful young men they are.

Practiced hand

One of my favourite people to watch at the Brier is icemaker Jamie Bourassa, who has the most interesting job out there. There are all sorts of factors that go into making the ice, and small temperature differences, air flow, even the number of players and fans can turn it from a straight sheet to one that will almost let the pros weave a path through the house. Here he is at the fifth end break, making pebble. (I'd love to learn how to do this: it appeals to both the scientific and craft sides of my life.)

Team Manitoba

There are several wonderful vantage spots in the 'Dome, and this one, in the seats below the Platinum Club (or whatever they call it these days: it's the lounge on the press level), where I got this fun shot of Team Manitoba lead Cody Hodgson in full flight. I had a chance to talk to the boys on the Friday before, as they were getting ready for the hotshots competition, and was pleased to see the return of Steve Gould (whose nickname is "Tick Man" for his ability to move, but not remove, rocks), former lead for skip Jeff Stoughton, as the fifth player.

Young Stars

One of the other assignments I had was to photograph the junior curling stars: there were two (both boys and girls) from clubs in southern Alberta for both the afternoon and evening draws. Some of the teams (who shall remain nameless) mostly ignored them, except for staged photographs, but others, like Team Northwest Territories, went out of their way to chat and answer questions. I was trailing them along the sheet when coach Terry Shea spotted me and asked what I was doing. When I explained, he smiled and said "wow, that's great: let's get a picture with the boys right here."

It was a lot of fun, although I had enough coffee and doughnuts in one week to last me until Calgary gets another Brier in four or five years.

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