December 21, 2009
Martin in Curling Xmas Story
By GEORGE KARRYS, FOR QMI AGENCY
Ebenezer Martin, better known as Kevin, is curling's biggest mogul. He has won over a million dollars, finishes at the top on the money list every year, and he's off to Vancouver as Canada's first-repeat Olympian in curling.
On Christmas Eve, Martin gets spooked when Don Bartlett appears. His longtime lead player from 1991 through 2006 barges in and warns him of a bad night; he shall be visited by three ghosts.
"Is one of them Randy Ferbey?" Martin asks, horrified.
Soon he is awakened by a weird slapping noise, a sound not heard in decades. He is now wearing a kilt, surrounded by Scotsmen, who are thrashing his bedroom floor with old-fashioned curling brooms, sending shards of corn chaff in all directions.
"I am the ghost of your Christmas curling past," intones their skip, who looks a lot like David Smith, the 1991 world champion.
The youthful, moustached Martin had brought out the corn during their '91 round-robin game -- a legal move at the time, but a violation of curling's moral code -- and defeated the Scots. But when Martin tried the same thing in the final, with the Winnipeg crowd booing his team, the Scots were ready and handed Martin his second world silver.
The Edmonton skip had also lost to Scotland in the world junior final, five years earlier.
"Please, I've repented," Ebenezer pleads. "I've not transgressed since. When an Ontario guy accused us of illegal sweeping in the last Trials round-robin game, I said I would never allow that. It's true."
The Scots fade away into the night's gloom.
Hearty laughter awakens Martin a while later. There's another Scotsman standing before him, another glittering gold medal around his neck.
"David Murdoch?" moans the curling miser.
"Yes, I am your ghost of Christmas present," says the genial skip from Lockerbie, who will lead the Great Britain team into Vancouver. "Touch my hand and we shall see what your curling world is doing right now."
"No thanks," Martin gasps. "I don't want to see you again until February."
"Oh, but I'll be in Guelph, Ontario Jan. 6-10 for the Grand Slam," chuckles Murdoch. "And perhaps, this time, you'll choose to throw all 20 stones against me, instead of only 19, like you did at the Moncton worlds in April."
Murdoch vanishes as Martin cringes.
Finally, the Grim Reaper. The black spectre pulls off its hood to reveal -- the grinning face of Pal Trulsen, the Norwegian who won 2002 Olympic gold when Martin's shot for the win slid but an inch too far.
"Your future awaits," Trulsen/Reapers says. "My successor is named Thomas Ulsrud, and he's coming for you."
"Spirits, I've changed," yells the curling Scrooge. "I've been telling everyone for years that Europeans are strong. Glenn Howard beats me in Grand Slams -- sometimes. I will allow John Morris to call a shot -- sometimes. I will share my sports agent with other teams. There is curling wealth for all!"
The moral of the story? The Martin of 1991 is long-forgotten, and he is a fine ambassador for the sport.
His world victory over Murdoch in 2008 proves he can win the big one. But previous silvers -- many of them at Scottish hands -- may yet haunt him again.
Speaking of Christmas present(s), are you looking for last-minute curling gifts?
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