CURLERS GET SHOT AT OLYMPIC GOLD
Wed, November 30, 2005
By JOE PAVIA, OTTAWA SUN
The Olympic dream begins -- and ends -- for Canadian curlers this weekend in Halifax.
The Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials begins Saturday in the Nova Scotia capital with only potential Olympic glory at stake -- no money, no trophy and no fame for a runner-up finish.
Only two of 20 teams -- one male, one female -- will wing to Torino in February as Team Canada.
Two local players will be on each side of the gender equation. Ottawa's Craig Savill throws lead for Glenn Howard, while Gatineau's Annie Lemay shoots second for Marie-France Larouche.
Lemay expects all the teams will be playing "like it's a final every game."
And she's right. With no Page playoff system, the team that clinches top spot in the round robin goes straight to the final with the second and third place teams locked in the semi-final battle.
Savill believes: "Whoever gets hot and whoever gets the breaks" is going to win.
Six men's teams rank in the Top 10 on the money list -- Randy Ferbey, Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard, John Morris, Mark Dacey and Pat Ryan. Jennifer Jones, Shannon Kleibrink and Jan Betker sit at the top of the women's list.
Is Martin hungry enough to expunge his Salt Lake City wound?
Colleen Jones has won everything but an Olympic medal. Does she have the energy to weather the round robin grind?
Will the hometown crowd propel the three bluenose teams -- Jones, Dacey and Shawn Adams --forward?
With no provincial rivalry, the Trials crowd is much more subdued than a Brier one. How badly does Betker want a repeat gold? Will one skip play so well that the team gets hot and leaves the pack in the dust? With this field, it's a crapshoot, folks. Team sports psychologists will be working overtime.
My predictions: Top three men: Kevin Martin, Mark Dacey and Glenn Howard. Top three ladies: Jennifer Jones, Colleen Jones and Jan Betker. The dark horses: Jeff Stoughton and Jo-Anne Rizzo.
OCA PROVINCIAL BOUND: The junior provincials will now see some real threats from this area. Chris Gardner and Laura Payne advance from the A-side, while James Sills and Jenna Harrington move on from the B-side.
OCA SENIOR ZONES: Zone 1A -- Merv Paine and Diana Favel; 1B -- Bruce Delaney and Betty Kirouac; Zone 2A -- Wally Morris and Lois Graham; 2B -- Jim Raina and Judy Tulloch; Zone 3A -- Mark Smith and Laurel McKay; 3B -- Lorne Rice and Monique DesRosiers.
OUT-OF-TOWN GLORY: Team Ontario skipped by John Epping surged from a 0-3 start to decisively beat Manitoba in the Canadian Mixed final. Ontario counted former Ottawa player Julie Reddick as vice. Glenn Howard qualified in the Painted Hand bonspiel, winning $4,000 in Yorkton. Jean-Michel Menard made the semi-finals in a Quebec City 'spiel, earning $2,500. Russ Howard claimed top prize.
FREE CURLING: The Ottawa Curling Club is allowing anyone who has never curled before, but gets the bug watching the Trials, to try the game for free between Dec. 3-11. Call 234-4119 for info.
THIS WEEK IN CURLING: The senior regionals take place at Navy this weekend. The WM Carp Classic, the last O.V.C. Tour event, starts tomorrow. TSN and CBC share the Halifax broadcast duties starting Saturday. TSN airs all round-robin afternoon and evening draws with a 10 pm tape delay on Dec. 7. The next day, they carry all three draws, then the Dec. 9 tiebreakers and the semis. CBC covers the women's finals on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m., while the men's is on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.