By Kirk Muyres 2017-03-30 13:55:42
For the first time in four years, we were not going to represent Saskatchewan at the Brier. All good things must come to an end, but it was almost to the point where we just thought we will play in the Brier every year. We were tuned in quick by Adam Casey and the boys! It does seem to ring true that when one door closes, a window opens. After that loss, we were presented with an opportunity to travel to Korea to train and play against one of the top Korean teams, as well as tour the host site for curling at next year’s 2018 Olympic Games! One of the most interesting things about being in Korea is the approach to the game their athletes take. We were delighted with the opportunity to train for four straight days, and watch how the other athletes in the program attack the game. The teams (young and older) train for four hours a day in two-hour stints. These players do not play games for these four hours, rather they train, they practice sweeping, they slide to brooms, slide through cones, and throw shot after shot after shot. This was interesting – they would train year-round and “practice” five days per week, four hours per day, for basically 52 weeks a year. There were also no leagues being played while training was going on, in fact at the rink we were at, no leagues even existed! Can you imagine going into a rink in Canada and not have any leagues and just seeing people practicing for hours a day…? It was really intriguing for me to see how some other countries approach the game. The people and the culture were so amazing. I am not sure what we were expecting, but the people were some of the most courteous folks I have met, and they made you feel welcome and respected regardless of where you were. Everyone has been asking me: “How was the food?” I did not realize that food was a “thing” when people travel. I can tell you for certain, the food was delicious. I love Asian cuisine and Korean food was tasty, plus it felt to me like it was full of nutrition – everything was made fresh and without processing. They did not have traditional “breakfast” as we know it, so every morning we got to eat Gimbap (kind of like maki rolls) and Kimchi (they seem to serve this with EVERYTHING) and personally speaking, this was right up my alley … for some of my teammates, maybe not so much. Oh, and the Olympic site! This was the first time I have ever been at an Olympic venue... and it was one of the neatest things I have seen. Again, I am not sure what I expected and I cannot believe what it would be like during the actual event, but it was pretty easy to visualize it during the World Juniors… and it was spectacular. It was very important for myself, and I am sure for my teammates, to see such a venue. We are training and competing for this elusive trip to the Olympics, but what does that really mean and how tangible can it actually feel? Now that we actually got to see where the curling will take place, plus the city and the other venues, it becomes a lot more real. It seems like a more concrete goal of ours now, and it really reinvigorated me to keep the foot down until December in Ottawa for the Roar of the Rings. We got to experience something that some of our trials competitors have not – and we are the only team to see this particular venue, atmosphere, culture and city, i.e. where we are all aiming to go. Gangneung is a stunning city that will host curling, hockey, speed skating and figure skating and the new arenas were huge and in close proximity to each other. The part that made my stomach tingle the most was obviously the iconic Olympic rings. There were a few moments that almost made me emotional; it all felt electric and this was a full year before the actual Olympic Games… I cannot imagine what the atmosphere will be for the Games in 2018! This marked the last team trip with Colton Flasch as our second, as he has decided to move on with a new team. After five years with him on board, it's easy to call Colton a friend and I wish him all the best in the future (except during Tankard playdowns, of course!). I would like to thank all those who made the trip possible, we are lucky to be able to do what we love and travel the world. I am very grateful. Follow on Twitter @kirkmuyres
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