Rock stars of curling to host clinic at new centre this fall

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A trio of rock stars are getting set to host three days of clinics as part of the opening week push out of the hack at the new Phillips Curling Centre.

“I love coaching and teaching,” said Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion, Russ Howard, one of three heavy hitters to offer up their experience, knowledge and passion of the game to Cochrane and area curlers from Sept. 15 to 17.

“We can give them so many little wee tips that you won’t get in a regular clinic. The kick for me is when they love it – when they go, ‘Oh I never thought of that …’ It’s really rewarding.”

Howard’s best friend and national mixed champion, Grant Odishaw, along with six-time Canadian women’s champ, Laine Peters, will round out the coaching prowess at the weekend workshops, taking place a few days after the official Sept. 9 planned launch of the new state-of-the-art curling facility at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.

“From the curling people that I’ve talked to, they’re all quite excited about it and are looking forward to it,” said event organizer Ken Weisner. “I think it’s going to be great for the new centre to have such high-level curlers there to celebrate the opening of it.”

Weisner said the clinics are separated into three participation levels so each group can receive skill-specific training. Friday night’s four-hour session is for the more recreational curler, including those who have been curling less than three years and “want to improve mainly on their delivery.”

Saturday’s full-day symposium will deliver tips and tricks for the intermediate-level curler, with a banquet in the evening at the sports centre. Howard will act as keynote speaker at the dinner.

Sunday will be spent with competitive curlers and teams who want to improve their game as a group.

“The main thing these guys can pick out and help with is the little fine details. They can spot those things easily because they’ve lived that life and had that training at such a high level,” said Weisner. “It’s those fine details that go into curling that can help you be a better curler.”

Howard agreed, saying he didn’t have an official coach until he had made it to the Olympic stage with Team Gushue in 2006.

Even though he got into the guidance game later in his career, he said coach Toby MacDonald helped to hone his skillset enough to propel him to the top of the podium – and make history as the first Canadian men’s curling team to win gold.

“He was spectacular. He knew how to handle me, how to handle the kids. It was all the little things,” recalled Howard of MacDonald. “It totally changed my opinion on team coaching.”

It’s that same feeling Howard hopes to leave Cochrane curlers with after his time here in September.

“We’re there because we love the sport and we just love passing it on,” he said. “We just love the game.”

The weekend is offered by the Academy of Curling, in association with the Cochrane Curling Club. Only 48 spots are available for each session. Weisner can be reached at cochranecurling@telus.net for more information or to register.

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