Back to the real world

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

It didn't cross Kevin Koe's mind when he sat in the hack in the 11th end knowing he had to draw to the button to win the Brier that 2.5 million people would be watching on TSN.

"That's amazing. That's mind-boggling," said Koe.

"It's a good thing you don't think of stuff like that at the time. Two and a half million! Wow!"

The 2.5 million was the peak number as the audience swelled for those last two ends. The overall average TV number for the Brier final was 1.6 million.

PERSPECTIVE

Let's put this in perspective.

The highest two Edmonton Eskimos games on TSN last year were 1.1 million for a game against Saskatchewan and 1.09 million for the Labour Day game in Calgary. The most recent Edmonton Oilers game on TSN was Feb. 10 and drew only 338,000 viewers. True, those two teams, unlike the curlers, haven't given Edmonton anything to cheer about lately. But that's not the point.

Those involve professional sports stars. These are guys next door. They're not making $7 million a year like Shawn Horcoff or even $500,000 a year like Ricky Ray.

These guys live in the same kind of houses and drive the same kinds of cars as their fans. And on Tuesday morning after the Brier they went back to their jobs.

Koe returned to Edmonton Monday evening from Halifax with the rest of the team, then drove home to Grande Prairie and went back to work at Talisman Energy where he's a surface landsman negotiating lease agreements for drilling sites.

"Back to reality," he said.

And the reality is that it's going to cost him money to go to Cortina, Italy, to compete for Canada at the world curling championships April 3-13.

"I know I don't have any holiday time left. I'll have to take a leave without pay," he said.

Lead Nolan Thiessen was back at his desk at Ernst & Young chartered accountants.

"I had meetings most of the day and clients to visit the rest of the week," he said.

He didn't have to worry about his bosses saying he can't take any more time off.

"They're one of our sponsors and they're pretty excited we won the Brier."

The CEO called to congratulate him personally.

It was actually good going back to work, he said.

"It shows we're regular guys. It was cool walking in the office to see all the people you work with who were watching and cheering for you.

"We're all getting back to our daily routine for the next couple of weeks, but I don't know that it will be normal. With the world championships coming up in Italy, I don't think it will be normal at all. It's going to be so cool to get all the gear, the jackets and shirts with the Maple Leaf and your name on the back and making the travel plans and everything.

"Reality will be in May, June and July when I pick up all the hours I've lost taking over for other people while they take their holidays."

Blake MacDonald's problem is he's scheduled to spend all next week in Alaska working as a consultant for a group of fitness clubs starting up.

"Work and curling don't always work together, but this will work out. I'm just not going to be spending any time in Edmonton," he said.

Second Carter Rycroft is co-owner of Prairie West Ventures, an oilfield trucking company.

He won a silver medal curling with Kevin Martin at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics but said winning this Brier, to him, topped even that.

"To me, this is better, believe it or not. But now I'm just back to being Carter Rycroft, owner of a trucking company."

READY FOR EVERYTHING

Because of the Olympics, Rycroft is ready for everything involved here.

"It's great right now. The hardest part will be after the Worlds are over. That's when the reality really sets in and you wonder 'Where did it go?' Then a kind of a depression sets in. I had it after the Olympics."

He was ready for the reality of going back to work yesterday, of going from a sports star who people can recognize because he doesn't wear a helmet while playing in front of a massive TV audience.

"I don't know if that's the great thing about our sport or the bad thing about our sport," he laughed.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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