I'm doing some hiding this evening. I'm sure if I went to the arena they could put me to work quickly enough. Between colds, stomach flues and the occasional unreliable volunteer not showing up like they promised, there's always work to be done. But I've already worked two draws today, two yesterday and at least two each on Wednesday and Thursday. So I'm hoping no one begrudges me an evening in my nice, warm, new apartment with my wife who misses me, rather than freezing my ass off at the arena.
Don't get me wrong, I really am enjoying myself. It's fun being involved and getting to see curlers of this calibre. But there does come a time when lounging around the apartment has greater appeal.
So what exactly am I doing this week? Well, not as much media managing as I might have expected. The local media aren't really interested in the draw scores or the day by day standings. They're more interested in the event itself and those are the stories they're doing. Which is fine. I haven't been fielding as many phone calls from southern media as I thought, but that might come later in the week when the play-offs start coming into focus. So far, Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario appear to be locks for the play-offs, with Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia fighting it out for the final play-off spot.
Alas, poor Newfoundland and Labrador and the Territories, the "unofficial" home teams (the Territories for obvious reasons and Newfoundland and Labrador just because of the volume of cheers every time they're introduced) aren't doing so well. The Territories haven't won a game yet, and Newfoundland has only won once as of this writing. So there hasn't been much to cheer for.
So instead of dealing with media, I'm helping out with officiating. There are three levels to this. The most basic is being an on-ice observer. You basically take a seat at ice level with a metal board with little magnetic rocks. You watch one game and note where the rocks are located on the ice, just in case there's a wipe out or some other catastrophe that has people wonder what goes where. You change the scores, signal to senior officials if a team has called for a time-out and make sure no rule violations are happening.
Fairly simple stuff and you get to be right at ice level, which is nice. The downsides are that it's bloody freezing if you're not dressed properly (for only the second time in my life in the arctic, I broke out my thermal underwear today) and you have to be careful not to be a distraction to the players.
Next up is timekeeping. Curling at this level means they're running on a clock. Each team gets 73 minutes to complete a 10 end game. They also get two, one minute time-outs. And a fine minute break after the fifth end. I've done this a couple of times as well. You sit high up in the arena with a wireless device that controls the clocks at ice level. You have to carefully watch the game to make sure one team has finished their turn so to switch the timers.
You also have to watch for hog line violations. Again, fancy computer curling technology at work. The rocks and ice are outfitted with special sensors that can tell if you've slid past the hogline with the rock still in your hand. The rock will flashed red if there's a violation, green if it's good.
Sounds straight forward, but like everything there are rules and catches, so you have to watch it and not get distracted by what's happening in other games. Teams get touchy if you don't switch the clocks at the right time. Nobody has come close to running out of time on their clock yet, but even 10 seconds can make a big deal.
Fortunately there are plenty of Canadian Curling Association officials around to bail us out when we screw-up...which happens. Nothing serious, mind you, but mistakes have happened.
The last one is one I've avoided so far....statistician. You watch each player in your game and determine what shot is being called, what turn the player is using (in-turn or out-turn) and rate how successfully the shot is complete on a scale of 0-4. You can give bonus points for exception and game-saving shots. And it's hard. The games move at a quick place and what I discovered in practice was that I was making too many mistakes and was scoring the players was too hard. So unless things get desperate, I'm giving that a miss.
Overall things are going pretty good. Remember, this is the first time a national championship has ever been hosted in Nunavut and we're doing it with a small a deeply committed (in more ways than one at this point, I suspect) group of volunteers. A few more bodies in the stands would be nice, but I think that'll change in the next few days. We're having kids from the local schools come down for draws starting on Wednesday. And hopefully there will be a nice turn-out for the final on Saturday.
And now, because The Curling News asked so nicely, a few photos I took from the last week.
Ice-makers can multi-task.
Making the ice and rehearsing the opening ceremonies at the same time.
Teams practice before the opening draw.
A couple of Nova Scotia players practice.
Ed Sattleberger is one of four spares from the local club. If a male player withdraws, Ed can take their place. He's also doing extra duty by helping the ice makers and doing statistics.
Wade Kingdon, also of the spares for the event.
1. Got no secrets - Brendan Benson
2. You look so fine - Garbage*
3. You don't make it easy babe - Josh Ritter
4. If it feels good do it - Sloan
5. The crane wife 1 &2 - The Decemberists