Allan Lyburn's rink isn't used to shooting out of the gates, so the skip was a little surprised it won the Wheat City Curling Classic yesterday in Brandon.
Lyburn's Brandon squad pocketed $11,000 for beating Jamie Schneider, of Kronau, Sask., 5-4 in the final of the $48,000 event, which was co-sanctioned by the World and Manitoba Curling Tours.
"Normally it takes us three to four spiels before we even qualify and then we've only got a couple spiels left," Lyburn said yesterday from Brandon. "We're normally slow starters, so I wasn't actually sure what was going to happen this week.
"It's really nice to start the year off like that. You couldn't have asked for much better."
It was Lyburn's fourth career WCT victory and it earned his squad valuable Canadian Team Ranking System points.
Lyburn wasn't even thinking about curling a day before the event began last Thursday; he was too busy tending to his farm northwest of Brandon.
"I just got my stuff out of the closet that day," he said.
That lack of preparation showed early on, as they struggled to two wins before losing their next two, including one to Schneider, dropping them to the C event.
After that, Lyburn, along with brother William Lyburn, second Mark Taylor and lead Gary Poole, rattled off six straight victories to claim the championship.
Kicking off the season with a win is huge, but the return of William Lyburn might be even bigger. The Classic was his first action since undergoing season-ending knee surgery last December.
"We were kind of getting on a roll and then he got hurt," said Allan Lyburn, whose rink finished 33rd on the WCT money list last season with just $12,500. "It just made our season terrible, but he's back now and playing as good as ever."
Lyburn, who needed just five ends to beat St. Vital's William Kuran 5-1 in a semifinal yesterday morning, will attempt to build on his momentum when he competes in the SGI Canada Charity Classic in Regina on Thanksgiving weekend.
AROUND THE RINGS: There were two other WCT events this weekend. Edmonton's Kevin Martin earned $9,500 when he beat Ottawa's Brian Lewis at the Shorty Jenkins Classic in Brockville, Ont. Meanwhile, Norway's Paal Trulsen picked up $10,127 when he dumped Switzerland's Ralph Stockli in the final of the Weber Oslo Cup ... Edmonton's Randy Ferbey won the Alberta Curling Tour's Shamrock Classic on Sunday ... The MCT stops in Selkirk this weekend for the men's and women's Steeltown Classic.