Sunday, March 21, 2010

Playoffs & Paralympics

It's the real deal now. Time to see how much of all that watching and following of the recent Olympic curling has sunk in. Our regular league play is now over and it's playoff time. We've actually pulled off a couple of last end wins since the Games ended - something that certainly wasn't happening before the Olympic Cauldron was lit.

Since Boo had to work and Tyrant was out of town, we had to pull in super-spare, Skippy,and darned if we didn't have maybe our best game of the year. Our opponents for the day were just having a rough time of it. Decked out in their matching mack jackets, they might have been the best dressed team in the league, but we gave them a total dressing over today. After a steal of five in the second end, the game was pretty much over - and it didn't get a whole lot better for them after that. Everyone was pretty much ready to call it a day, especially since we were going to have to play again on the next day. We don't win big like that very often though; so, we had to head upstairs to the bar for a quick drink.

Good thing that we did as well. Not so much because of the bottle of wine I picked up, but because I scored a couple of tickets to the gold medal game for Paralympic Curling that was happening just down the road later in the afternoon.

But, first the wine.

395. 2005 Okanagan Vineyards Semillon/Chardonnay (VQA Okanagan Valley)

This wouldn't normally have been a wine that would be on my radar for buying. But it's virtually the end of the season for the curling rink and the bar's stock had dwindled down to next to nothing. It was this bottle or nothing. No red. No choice. One wine - or move on to something else. Wanting to add at least one bottle to The List with the curling team as my drinking buddies, I said why not.

And, you know, there was nothing wrong with it. It was cheap and cheerful. Not a heckuva lot of complexity to it - but there was acid, fruit and a decent enough taste profile. It wasn't a chore to finish off the bottle. So, that's got to say something for it.

I can't say much more for it though. I can't find any reference to Okanagan Vineyards on the net. It's listed with the BC government liquor stores at a bargain of under $10, but I couldn't find anything else. I don't have the bottle with me; so, I can't see if there are any more clues on the back label. I might have thought that it was a "cellared in Canada" bottle of import grapes, but it is a VQA bottle and, therefore, has to be all BC-grown fruit. Again, that says something for the wine in that it has passed the tasting panel and has the panel's sign of approval.

I'll have to take a more thorough look at the bottle the next time I see one.

As mentioned, one of the other curlers at our rink had some additional tickets to the Paralympics curling final available through Ronald McDonald House. Boo had been working nights, but I coaxed him into getting up early and joining us for the game. That's the Paralympic mascot, Sumi, in the picture with me - not Boo.

The Paralympics don't seem to have captured the city's imagination as much as the Olympic Games did last month. That's most likely because, there are only two events actually being held in Vancouver - wheelchair curling and sledge hockey. The balance of the Games are being staged in Whistler. There hasn't been a fraction of the television coverage either. Here it is the final day of the curling competition, there's only a handful of events left to stage overall, and this is the first - and only - event that I will have taken in.

I was very glad for the opportunity though. I've never seen any wheelchair curling before and I should think that this is the game to see if you only get a chance to see one. The gold medal game was between Canada and South Korea. The bronze medal game was being played at the same time between Sweden and the US.

It's a "different" game from our able-bodied game. There's no sweeping of the rocks to assist in the delivery. So, you're either good from the release of the rock or you're not. There's no opportunity to try and correct a shot that might have been thrown off by a little bit.

The crowd was still as boisterous as it had been during the Olympics though - which I'm sure was quite a readjustment for these athletes. I don't think they generally see such a level of enthusiasm at any of their other games.

Both games could have gone either way. Sweden beat out the US for the bronze and it took the last rock for the Canadian team to secure its gold medal. Considering that the Canadians had been well ahead at the fourth end break, the crowd was getting rather anxious as the Koreans staged a great comeback and just barely fell short.

I was particularly happy that we came since this was the only occasion I had to actually see, in person, a gold medal given to a Canadian during either the Olympics or Paralympics. Considering Vancouver's Mayor Robertson, BC Premier Campbell and Canadian Prime Minister Harper were on hand to award the medals to the athletes, I think it's rather indicative of the stature of the event.

Good on all the athletes who participated in the Paralympics.

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