Does the name Cheryl Benard ring a bell? Need a refresher? Think back to the 2010 Winter Olympics. What are some of the images you recall?
Perhaps the epic hockey battles between Canada and the U.S.A. That might be about it. But chances are you may remember curling. During the past two Winter Olympics, curling interest reached an all time high among sports fans fascinated by the great unknown.
Soon after the closing ceremonies, Tulsa curling fans were left empty, until now. You may have noticed the Oilers Ice Center, 5413 S. Mingo, has closed the doors.
"The Oilers Ice Center has been in operation for about 12 years now," said Tulsa Oilers General Manager Taylor Hall. "It is the only other skating facility in Tulsa that is used on a fulltime basis."
The stress placed on a rink that operates 365 days a year took its toll.
"The past couple of months we have been making repairs to our refrigeration system," Hall said. "We are going to have brand new ice, a brand new ice system, new boards and new glass."
There is no time frame for the rink to open for public and private skating. But when it does, Tulsa will have four painted sheets ready for a curling league.
"This is going to be cutting edge, probably the biggest thing to hit Tulsa in many, many years," he said. "We had requests for this during the Olympics, but we were never able to do it."
Oklahoma City has been involved with curling for a few years and it is extremely popular. Check out tulsacurlingclub.com for information as it becomes available.
"I can't tell you how many phone calls during Olympic years that we got from people who watched curling on TV and wanted to come out and try it," Hall said. "We are really excited about the Oilers Ice Center."
The curling craze sweeping the nation is legit. A Canadian friend of mine always preached about the awesomeness of curling. Now big cities and small towns alike are giving the northern breed sport a chance. And they're liking it!
The Tulsa Oilers are holding training camp in Oklahoma City this year due to available ice time. No need to worry about another sports franchise flying the coup. Ice sports in Tulsa and the Ice Center renovation should allow continued growth in T-Town.
Stay tuned as the Ice Center plans a grand opening once the repairs are complete. Also, expect a huge curling open house for fans to check out the interesting sport. Cheryl Benard ringing a bell now? Thought so.
"Frustrated is the word I always come back to," said dailythunder.com's Royce Young. Young is ESPN.com's Oklahoma City Thunder blogger aficionado. Like many NBA fans, he is slightly disappointed.
Commissioner David Stern announced the first two weeks of the season are cancelled. Many experts predicted this months ago. The Tulsa market showed interest in the Thunder last season. Will they come back if/when the NBA decides to divvy up the loot?
"I understand the reasons why, but the fans don't care who wins or gets the better deal," said Young. "Fans care about games. And if or when this lockout dips into the NBA's regular season, I'm terrified that the casual fans the NBA has won back for the first time since the Jordan era will abandon it again. All because of money."
For reasons unclear at this time, the D-League will play on. The Tulsa 66ers have released a schedule and the official word is opening tip will go on as scheduled. Outside of that, the organization is tight-lipped regarding anything labor related to the NBA. The hammer of Stern strikes fear into Thor.
Bye Bye Bubba
Let it be known moving forward. It is a bad sign when a man no-shows a free lunch. Last week when former TU Director of Athletics Lawrence "Bubba" Cunningham missed his monthly chat and chow session with media members, it was all over but the tears.
A year ago when Kansas made a run at Bubba, there was legit reason to think he would return to TU. Sure enough the Jayhawks job did not move his needle.
Let's face facts. When the Tarheels made similar overtures, who can blame him? Cunningham did what every blue and gold blooded Hurricane honk would do. Take the big bucks and run. He signed a six-year contract with University of North Carolina with an annual salary of over more than half a million dollars per year.
Maybe Bubba can spring for the next Tulsa media luncheon. Steaks and lobsters for all!
Whoever fills the role for the University of Tulsa inherits a wealth of opportunity. He or she will also face high expectations.
Bubba drove the renovation train through H.A. Chapman Stadium. He was influential in the completion of the Case Athletic Complex.
His football hirings have been spot on including fiery Todd Graham and steady Bill Blankenship.
Never fear TU supporters. This could be a good sign of things to come. Remember when our basketball coaches were poached by big universities year after year?
This might be a new trend. Tulsa might start mining excellent coaches and athletic directors. Big schools take note. Tulsa is doing something other small schools hope to achieve.
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