Curling Customs – Last Mention Of Gold Medals And Anastasia Bryzgalova

I’m sure people are saying “Get back to the baseball cards already!” but I have one more post to get the Olympics out of my system… and at any rate I’ve put a lot of work into these and I want to get them out here.

When I started planning these last fall, I was thinking of the different types of customs I might be making, and while I was thinking of making “postseason” customs…

I thought the USA would be competitive, but I wasn’t sure about medals, especially after the Men got off to a 2-4 start in round-robin play… but the bad start almost seemed to take the pressure off, the team beat Canada in the 7th game and never looked back.

Next thing we knew, John Shuster’s team had beaten Canada for the second time to get to the Gold Medal game…

…and then shocked everybody by scoring 5 in the 8th end against a dominant Swedish team.  The next thing we know…

It’s Gold Medal time, baby!

I don’t have the time or inclination to get into much more about the Olympics themselves, but I wanted to share a few other cards and tell you about where to go to see the rest of the ones I made (there are quite a few).

By popular request, here’s Anastasia Bryzgalova again.

Say what you want about her, she doesn’t seem to be one of these people who pose for pictures biting her medal.  I won’t say that such behavior is good or bad, but I really do not get it.

I was also rooting for the USA women as well…

…but they didn’t make it out of the pack, so I ended up rooting for the Japanese women, who always seem so excited and happy to be there.  The Japanese women’s team beat Great Britain in the Bronze Medal game.

The Korean women surprised by taking Silver won a whole lot of fans in South Korea and elsewhere.

The Swedish women won Gold.

Here are a few other customs that I thought worth sharing in the blog…


If you’d like to see more of these, I’ve posted all of these plus another 25+ more “unpublished” customs over in my 2018 TSR Curling Gallery.  Yeah, I really went nuts with these.

As always, I enjoyed doing these and I hope you enjoyed them as well!

Another Batch Of Olympic Custom Cards (Curling & Hockey)

I’m enjoying the Olympics, but I’ve got to admit it’s too much, too quickly.  I was doing an OK job of keeping up with the mixed doubles curling that more-or-less opened the Olympics for me, but once it got into men’s and women’s curling and men’s and women’s hockey and watching some figure skating with Mrs. S… It feels like I can’t keep up no matter how I try.

It almost seems like they should divide it up somehow… Maybe do the “Men’s Olympics” and the “Women’s Olympics” at separate times.

I have to admit, mixed doubles grew on me this time around.  During previous exposure to it, I felt like it was just a weird spinoff sport, but I think I gained an appreciation for the speed and excitement it brings… not better, not worse, but different.

As an American I was, of course, rooting for the Hamiltons, but once they fell out of contention I was pulling for the Canadian team of Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris.  I’d gained an appreciation for Lawes four years ago when she was part of the Gold-winning women’s team in Sochi, and I was happy to see them win (even if I didn’t get a chance to watch them win…)

In their game against the USA, the Swiss Mixed Doubles team won in the final end by scoring six…  And I will point out that in Mixed Doubles each team only throws six rocks to begin with, so this is an Olympic record which literally cannot be broken.

That seemed to be the way it went with the Hamiltons… Good play overall which got undone by bad ends.

The Swiss pair of Jenny Perret and Martin Rios won the Silver medal.  The US team had too many moments like the last end against the Swiss, and finished 7th overall.

I hadn’t really seen the Russian mixed doubles team, but two of my friends were telling me about how much they enjoyed their matches… and then I found out that a lot of men enjoyed watching the Russians… specifically because of Anastasia Bryzgalova.

The women’s competition, as I write this, is somewhat upside down.  At one point the Canadian women were a shocking 0-3 (and took out their frustrations by beating Nina Roth’s USA team 11-3 in 7 ends), while Japan was 3-0 and Korea and China were also near the top.

Over on the men’s side, Sweden is rolling along at 6-0, while the Canadian and Swiss teams aren’t far behind.

Next week – and possibly during the week – I’ll have more curling customs.

Quick mini-rant here… I have to say that many of the Olympic websites suck, at least for hockey and curling.  They give you high-level information and background pieces on individual players, but if you want to find out any details or statistics… well, why would you want to do that?  Thank goodness for the websites of the World Curling Federation and the International Ice Hockey Federation.

End of mini-rant

In men’s hockey, the qualification playoffs start on Tuesday with the USA taking on Slovakia with the winner taking on the Czech Republic 24 hours later.  I guess this is why you want to finish in the top four and get a bye…

Over in women’s hockey, the playoffs start late tonight with the US taking on Finland and Canada matching up against the Olympic Athletes From Russia.  The OAR team lost all three games in the preliminary round and were outscored 15 goals to 1, but came alive in the quarter-finals and beat previously-undefeated Switzerland 6-2.

Brianna Decker is in her second Olympics (she had an assist in the preliminary round) and in 2012 won the Kazmaier Award given to the top collegiate player in the US.

It’s interesting… All of the photos I used came from “media day” photo sessions. All of the Americans smiled, but many of the Canadians, like Ann-Renee Desbiens, had their game faces going.

Desbiens has played only in the opening game of the preliminary round, but shutout the OAR team 5-0.

Kacey Bellamy is another player in her third Olympics;  she’s also played in eight world championships.  She scored a goal in the preliminary round;  somewhat unusual since she plays defense.

One thing I’ve found interesting about following the women’s competition is how many of the players – not just Americans – played NCAA hockey.  Natalie Spooner is from the Greater Toronto Area but set school records while playing for Ohio State.

Since some readers have been asking me… I haven’t decided how far I’m going to go with these hockey customs.  I believe the “set” currently stands at 16, and I’ve shared all of the ones I’ve made to this point.  I could be done, but if a player has a particularly noteworthy playoff or if someone nicely asks me to make one for a player I haven’t done yet, I can be persuaded to crank out a couple more.

There *will* be more curling customs;  hockey was a side-trip that ended up being more than I’d intended (because I was so happy with the way they turned out).

Switching To Olympic Mode: Hockey (Not What You Expect) And Curling

Even though the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games is on Friday, the Curling competition starts Thursday morning at 9am… that’s Korean time;  On the Eastern Time Zone, that’s 7pm Wednesday night.  The Olympics are almost here!

Along with Curling, I enjoy watching Olympic Hockey… The international competition is fun, and I prefer the way the game is played on the wider international rink.

…But this time around, many of the world’s best hockey players – and pretty much all of North America’s best hockey players – will be playing in the NHL rather than skating in PyeongChang.

I get the impression that a Gold Medal for the USA would be “Miracle On Ice 2: Electric Boogaloo”. I don’t recognize any names on the Canadian roster, but then again I don’t really follow the NHL anymore.

So what’s a hockey fan to do?

Maybe Hilary Knight has a suggestion…

I’m thinking that Women’s Ice Hockey should be interesting. In Sochi, the Canadian team beat the US team in OT in the gold medal game; this is after the US was leading 2-0 in the third. In addition, all of the Gold Medals in the 18-year history of the Women’s World Championships have gone to either the US or Canada, with the US winning 8 of the past 10 but Canada having a 10-8 overall record in those games.

Hilary Knight is one of the key players for the US Women, and one of several on the team who is playing their 3rd Olympic games. She was also in the 2014 Topps Olympic and Paralympic Hopefuls set…

There are no Olympic Hockey players represented in the 2018 set… Not that I would know first-hand because I’ve yet to see so much as a pack anywhere in Shlabotsylvania.

Getting back to that 2014 Gold Medal game… The game-tying and game-winning goals were both scored by Marie-Philip Poulin, who’s the captain of the Canadian team.

Poulin has scored 8 goals and 12 points over the course of 10 Olympic games. She was also a star player for Boston University.

Meghan Duggan is the captain of the US team. Like Hilary Knight, she’s appeared in two prior Olympics, winning Silver both times.

She won three NCAA championships with the University of Wisconsin and was named the country’s best collegiate women’s hockey player in 2011.

If you don’t think that Meaghan Mikkelson lives and breathes hockey, her son’s name is Calder. He was named through nominations and voting on Twitter, but her great uncle, Jimmy McFadden, won the Calder Trophy in 1950, and her father, Bill Mikkelson was on an AHL team which won the Calder Cup.

Meaghan won two Olympic Gold Medals, two NCAA titles with the Wisconsin Badgers, and was, along with Olympic teammate Natalie Spooner, a runner-up in season 2 of “The Amazing Race Canada”. I had no idea there was a Canadian version, but then again I’ve never watched “The Amazing Race” (or much of any reality TV).

Before I get away from the family connections… Her brother Brendan played for the Ducks, Flames and Lightning, and her dad, Bill Mikkelson, played in the NHL for the Kings, Islanders and Capitals.

This is far from the only family connections involved with the USA and Canada Women’s Hockey teams… I’ll touch on some more another time.

I had fun creating these customs based on the 1968-69 Topps & O-Pee-Chee Hockey sets, and I made a bunch more of them. You’ll be seeing more at some point… hopefully you’ll regard that as a good thing.

Before I get away from the Olympics entirely, I’ll remind you that I’ve also been working on a Curling set based on the 1975 Topps baseball design. I’m essentially burning off this next card which falls under the category of “This is why Olympic cards aren’t a ‘thing'”.

I made this custom in November as I was under the impression that Team Sidorova would be representing Russia in Pyeongchang. Well, not only has Russia been banned (and replaced by “Olympic Athletes From Russia”), but I just found out this morning that Team Sidorova lost the non-Russian trials at the end of December and Victoria Moiseeva’s team will pseudo-represent Russia starting this week.

But don’t fret…the Norwegians ARE coming, and they’re bringing their pants!

Olympic Curling Customs: Alright, Hamilton(s)!

Last weekend saw the last of the USA Curling Olympic qualifying, as Becca and Matt Hamilton won a tightly-contested battle to be the American team in the debut of Olympic mixed doubles curling as a medal sport.

Although the lost the first two games in the round-robin portion of the trials, they won the remaining seven games and an exciting finals against Cory Christensen & John Shuster wasn’t decided until the last shot of the final end.

Both Hamiltons will also be in PyeongChang as members of the women’s and men’s teams.

…And they got to appear on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and along with Jason Sudeikis (not to be confused with former Dodger Bill Sudakis)

I’m sure a lot of people are like Jason Sudeikis and think of the musical Hamilton, but me…  When Becca & Matt won, I thought of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, channeled my ‘Inner Spicoli’ and said:

More Olympic Curling Customs: The USA Men’s Team

The Team USA Curling Trials concluded two weeks ago, and in the process we found out who would be representing the US in the 2018 Winter Games.

Last Saturday’s post was about the Women’s Team; this time we’ll be representing the Men. Team Shuster lost the first game to Heath McCormick’s team, but rallied back to win games 2 and 3 to win the spot in Pyeongchang.

John Shuster, John Landsteiner and alternate Joe Polo have been to the Olympics before, but this will be the first time for Ty George and Matt Hamilton. Hamilton is the brother of Becca Hamilton, who’s on the women’s team going to Pyeongchang.

The US Men finished in a 3-way tie for 7th in the 2014 games, but Team Shuster made the playoffs in the 2017 World Men’s Curling Championship back in April.

The US Men would lose the Bronze Medal game to Switzerland, 7-5.

This will be skip John Shuster’s 4th Olympics. He was on Pete Fenson’s team which won Bronze in 2006, and he also represented the USA in 2010 and 2014.

Elsewhere in Olympic qualifying… The Canadian qualifying event, Tim Hortons Roar Of The Rings, starts today in Ottawa. You may remember that Canada took both the Men’s and Women’s Gold in Sochi in 2014…  Here are the 1973-style customs I made nearly 4 years ago to commemorate those teams:

Both of these teams are competing for another shot, but there’s always plenty of competition in any type of Canadian curling championship.

This coming Tuesday sees the beginning of the World Curling Federation’s Olympic Qualification Event in Pilsen, Czech Republic.  This will determine the final two countries for the Men and Women.  For the Women, the competition is between China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy and Latvia.  You may notice that this is only 7 teams;  Norway had qualified for the event but the Norwegian Curling Association decided not to send a women’s team.

For the Men, it’s between China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Russia.

Quick note for those of you who prefer non-curling customs:  You’ll get your turn tomorrow.

Virtual Olympic Curling Cards Using The 1975 Topps Design? Hell, Yeah!

Last weekend saw the conclusion of the 2017 USA Curling Trials to determine which women’s and men’s teams would be representing the country in the PyeongChang Winter Games this February.

Although I didn’t get to watch nearly as much as I would’ve liked, I was so inspired by the competition that I decided to create the first of my 2018 TSR Curling customs a bit ahead of schedule… I was originally intending these to drop In January.

So for those who missed it – and I missed much of the women’s competition due to some DVR programming errors on my part – Nina Roth’s team won a trip to the Winter Games by beating Jamie Sinclair’s team two games to one, with the third game being decided in the final end.

None of the four women on the team – Nina Roth, Tabitha Peterson, Becca Hamilton and Aileen Geving – have participated in the Olympics before, but they made a good showing in the 2017 World Championships, going 6-5 in the round-robin and just missing the playoffs.  The US Women finished last in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, so there are expectations that this team will make a significantly better showing in 2018.

That first custom is, of course, based on the team checklist cards from 1975 Topps baseball… and indeed, the whole custom set will be based on 75T… with some liberties taken to get things to work out as needed.

I also decided to create another custom based on the event itself; this is based on the “Highlights” subset of 75T… more specifically in this case, on the sole horizontal Highlights card which featured the multiple no-hitters which had been thrown in 1974.

I’d originally intended to keep it to just the two customs this weekend, but I got a little carried away with the project and I currently have 20 different customs finished.  I’m sure you’d like to see what the “regular” cards are like, so here’s a third featuring skip Nina Roth.

There’d been some internal debate on some of the 1975 Topps design elements… The originals, of course, have that little baseball icon and the player’s position at the lower right.  I thought about having a curling version of that, but ultimately decided that the design worked just fine without anything at all.

I will have customs for the US Men’s team next weekend, and at some point in December I will have the yet-to-be-determined Canadian teams.  Those teams will be determined at the Tim Hortons Roar Of The Rings starting December 2nd.

Also in early December is the World Curling Federation’s Olympic Qualifying Event;  this will determine the final two Women’s and Men’s teams to qualify for the 2018 Games.

Finally, for those of you who prefer my usual customs (baseball, non-sport, etc.)… These aren’t intended to temporarily replace those, that’s just what happened this time because (as I’d mentioned) I got a bit carried away with these and as a test run I created one custom of each color combination in 1975 Topps.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s eighteen different color combos.  Next weekend I hope to have Curling customs on Saturday and my regular customs post on Sunday.  That’s my intention, we’ll see how that actually pans out.