Roll Out the Barrel

Are you ready for the Barrel? Twenty- eight teams descend upon Skatetown tomorrow,  but only one will emerge victorious. Here’s some pointers going into the weekend. 

Twenty-Eight Teams. This event has grown in each of the three years we’ve held it. We started with a mere 16 teams, then grew to 24 last year, and 28 this year. Sixteen of the teams have members from our own club, with the other three Northern California curling clubs providing nine teams to the competition. We also have one team from Las Vegas and one from Utah. Plus one mystery team that even the people in charge don’t know. 

It’s great to see the reach of our lesser known, in-season bonspiel spreading beyond our normal geographic footprint. Who knows if we can reach our 32-team goal by next year.

Who is the best second-place team? With seven pools and only eight spots available in the A bracket, those second-place teams are going to be keeping a close eye on their tiebreakers.  And don’t forget, ties are allowed in pool play, so it’s very likely that one loss will be enough to eliminate a team (unless they win their pool). 

There will definitely be some top talent relegated to the B Bracket. Check out Bone v. Kuhl in the Roussanne Pool, Markowski fighting against Malerich in the Semillon Pool,  Dias and Wicks duking it out in Riesling Pool,  and Tudor v. Sampson lingering in the Moscato Pool. Then there’s all of the late-arriving teams in the Gewurztraminer Pool. Raju, Kelble, Henderson and Kopeck all have legitimate shots at winning that pool.

To repeat,  only six of those twelve teams can make the A-Bracket. The other six will be relegated to B- Bracket. Or C- Bracket, if any of the others teams in their pools have a say. Because only the top two thirds place teams make it into B- Bracket,  and we wouldn’t be at all surprised, in true Match Madness style,  to see some Cinderellas wreaking havoc in the Elite Eight,  while some Blue Belts lay in wait in the concession rounds. 

And if you’re pool play doesn’t go quite as anticipated,  there’s always D- Bracket. Teams 25-28 will be in a 4-pool bracket to take home a medal. Given how previous bonspiels have gone, there’s a good chance that’ll be an all 0-3 bracket, giving everyone a good shot.

Everybody’s Favorite On-Ice Celebration. The double takeout balloon is back! You know the greatest thing about making a double takeout? Sure, you help your team but, blah, blah, blah. You also get free beer! Maybe. 

When a team makes a double takeout, they need to move the balloon to their sheet. Then they need to hope that none of the other teams get any double takeouts. Because whichever team is in possession of the balloon when the entire draw is over wins a pitcher of beer. 

More ways to Donate Win. Speaking of March Madness, do you like to gamble? Well, you can’t put money on Duke, but you can put money on Jones. In the Calcutta, you pay $20 and get to pick a random team. If that team wins a bracket, you win! It’s a great way to stay engaged after you’ve been eliminated. Not that you’re going to get eliminated.

We’re also going to have not one, but TWO, split the pot raffles. One on Friday night and one on Saturday night. Combined with the Calcutta, that’s THREE chances to leave Skatetown with more money than you entered with. A great concession for getting eliminated. Not that you’re going to get eliminated.

Oh, and Baskets. Tons and tons of baskets to raffle on and items to silent auction on! And a yummy, yummy dinner Saturday night. And who knows, it might even be some good weather Saturday night. Friday, not so much.

Speaking of Getting Eliminated. We’re continuing the California tradition of the Travolta Cup, which will occur on Sheet One during the final draw on Sunday. Of course, everybody knows you won’t be eliminated, but for the twenty teams that don’t make it to the final draw on Sunday, they can still play in a winner-take-all championship game. The Travolta Cup features either eight randomly-selected curlers or the only eight players milling about on Sunday whose legs don’t mind one more game. The winner of the Travolta gets their name permanently placed upon one of the most beautiful and sought-after trophies in all of sports. Forget the Stanley Cup or The Barrel, those charlatans don’t feature your name upon a VHS copy of the movie “Phenomenon,” do they? I didn’t think so.

It all plays out this weekend. 

Oh, and we’ll see if we can get the Women’s World Championships (or at the very least, some college basketball) on the TV.

See you there.

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