Watch City showdown


In a perfect world, I would have done a Monte Carlo simulation of the Canadian Olympic Trials process, which begins Wednesday night, but it’s kind of a pain to run a Monte Carlo for a triple-knockout, let alone a four-stage process involving a mix of triple-knockout and round robin portions and optional tie-breakers and playoffs.

I do like the larger qualification process, which includes 18 27 men’s and 17 27 women’s teams because it allows the second tier of elite curling teams to be involved. Still, I don’t need simulations to know that it would be stunning if a team besides Homan, Einarson, or Fleury won the trials on the women’s side. The men’s field is deeper, but it’s highly likely Canada is represented by Jacobs, Gushue, or Bottcher. I’m still high on Team Dunstone and they have a chance to win as well.

In other Olympic qualification news, Switzerland’s men’s team will be decided this weekend as #12 Team Schwaller and #8 Team De Cruz face off in a best-of-seven series that will begin Wednesday evening in Biel/Bienne, a.k.a. Watch City. There is no love lost between these two. Actually, I think they are on good terms, so there is some love lost between them. That saying makes no sense, really.

The ratings say De Cruz is a 55.7% favorite to beat Schwaller in an individual game, which results in the following probabilities for the series:

Win in   De Cruz   Schwaller  Total
   4       9.6%      3.9%     13.5%
   5      17.1       8.6      25.6
   6      18.9      11.9      30.8
   7      16.7      13.3      30.0
 Total    62.3      37.7   

De Cruz is 8-4 against Schwaller since the beginning of last season, but Team Schwaller has been playing the best curling of their lives so far this season, so it makes sense the gap has closed somewhat. I’ll keep an eye on the Canadian pre-trials but the showdown in Watch City should be the most compelling curling this week.

Last week in curling: Tracy Fleury beat Kerri Einarson in the finals of the Sherwood Park Women’s Classic, extending a perfect start to the season to 12-0. Also of note was Daniela Jentsch beating EunJung Kim in pool play and then Rachel Homan in the quarterfinals (stealing in a final end on the Boston Pizza house of misery, no less) before falling to Einarson in the semis.

Along with an earlier victory over Anna Hasselborg, Team Jentsch now has three wins over top ten teams this season, the most among women’s teams. Jentsch is up eight spots to #23 in the world.

The men’s schedule was fairly quiet. The highest-ranked winner was #9 Ross Whyte who prevailed in the KW Fall Classic against a field depleted by the anticipation for the Canadian pre-trials. The real fun was the European “Division C” Championships in Geneva where teams representing countries like Andorra and Liechtenstein were in action. The results mean more flags got added to the ratings.

And in the process I learned something about flags. Namely, there is not standard size for a flag. Wikipedia has a page for everything and so of course they have one for the aspect ratios of flags. The most commonly-used aspect ratio is 2:3, but that’s only used by 85 of 195 “sovereign states”. Some 54 countries use a 1:2 aspect ratio. The next most common choices are 3:5 and 5:8.

The men’s event was won by Slovenia, but the highest rated team out of the event was silver-medalist Belgium, who made the peculiar choice of a 13:15 aspect ratio a few centuries ago. Denmark goes with 28:37 for some reason. In fact, Scandinavia is a hotbed for unique dimensions. Norway uses 8:11, Sweden goes with 5:8, and Finland goes with the golden ratio of 11:18. Iceland outdoes them all with a 18:25 flag.

And while El Salvador’s flag will probably never appear on my site, it’s worth noting they have a wacky 189:335 aspect ratio. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the U.S. comes in with a unique 10:19 flag. It is not clear why those dimensions were chosen although this helpful site mentions that “in the 1770’s bewper was 19 inches wide, so the flags then had the proportions 19:36 or 9.5:18; very close to 10:19.” So there’s that.

Anyway, I’m only obsessed with aspect ratios because some of these flags looked odd on the site and I ended up forcing every country to be 2:3 for symmetry’s sake. None of the participating teams appear in the top 100 but by clicking on their flag above the ratings you can find them. The Belgians, skipped by Timo Verreycken are #146 and the winner on the women’s side, Lithuania’s team led by Virginija Paulauskaite, is at #122.

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