UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Roar of the Rings curling fans are growing wilder every day at the no-holds-barred question periods with curlers. They happen at 5:15 p.m. in the Patch -- Roar's mega-party for thousands -- over at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg. The fun happens for an hour between afternoon and evening pretrials at the Olympic curling trials at the MTS Centre, with questions taken from the floor. In fact, questions are so bold now that handsome skip Mike "Mr. November" McEwen posed in a cosy clinch Wednesday, after being asked to sign his naked-pecs beefcake photo inside the Men of Curling calendar. Fan Donna Younger was clearly delighted! Not a shy man, McEwen said if he got the tattoos Olympic winners at Roar are rumoured to be planning, his ink would go "on my best body part -- my pecs." Host Stuart Brown grilled three other curlers in the Up Close and Personal hot seats Wednesday. Team Stoughton's Mark Nichols revealed while other guys may go commando or wear boxer shorts to shoot their rocks, he wears "compression pants" for underwear. Ummm, next question? Any superstitions to "help" them win? Said Nichols: "If I win in a shirt, I keep on wearing it. I did the same with my socks, but they got so smelly I had to quit." Team Stoughton's mouthy Garth Smith, who took a lot of ribbing about being a fifth (a lowly alternate), finally bellowed, "I AM the insurance policy!" reaching out to rub the bald head of shy guy B.J. Neufeld, third on the McEwen team.
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HOT SALES: After seven years of Women of Curling calendars, male curlers are upping the game with towels, props and often little else, to earn money for different charities in the new Men of Curling calendars. "In a word, sales are HOT!" said Harley Struth, CEO of international Asham curling equipment, based in Winnipeg. Sales of the calendars were so wild mid-week, they had to rush in 300 more to sell Thursday morning at Asham's busy Portage Place skywalk shop. Curlers sizzling on the pages include hotties such as E.J. Harnden, Carter Rycroft, Jon Mead, Craig Savill, Brad Jacobs, Ben Hebert and John Morris.
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SPOTTED AT ROAR: Bruce Hudson from the old Strathcona Club, who won the Manitoba provincials in the '60s, former Canadian champ Barry "the Snake" Fry, father of Ryan Fry who's playing third for Team Jacobs, Winnipeg Jets centre Jim Slater, Love Nest owner Linda Proulx, Earle Morris, father of skip John Morris, who won multiple provincial championships. Also making the scene, former Winnipegger and world champion curler Pat Ryan, who's coaching Team Morris. Justice Minister Andrew Swan was also a welcome sight this week when he dropped in at the MTS Centre to announce the specialty curling licence plates this week. Fun-loving fans at the curling fest included Klinic's Wendy Netlyk and political analyst Bob Axworthy. And way up in a suite Wednesday night, the whole arena could see young Nedohin fans in neon pink with a homemade NEDOHIN sign in support of skip Heather, singing: "Here we go, Nedohin! Here we go!"
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MAMA: Hot off winning the Bigley's Shoes Bonspiel in hometown Peterborough, Ont., skip John Epping's mother, Ruth Epping, and her ladies curling team Sandy Gougeon, Sherry Bulmer and Kathy Burns, have been hitting the stands every day in crazy hats. Wednesday, they wore flashing hats bought from a Halloween display back home, but they are also sporting fascinator hats la Kate Middleton, peacock feathers, sparkle shirts and elf hats, changing it up every day. Epping came to see her son play, of course, and says he wishes he'd done better, but she and 30 friends and family are loving every minute of Roar. She reveals son John started curling at only three years old when he came with her to games. "He'd go out on the ice before the ladies played and push shots," she says. "And he would tell you if you made a good shot, and how to improve it! At 14, he actually skipped US in the open league."
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