Martin, Hemming, Nedohin cut teeth at Arena

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

The Winnipeg Arena will close its doors for good next month. Until then The Sun will bring you the stories that made the Old Barn memorable. From the original construction to the final buzzer, we'll take you through the history of a building that was never spectacular but always colourful as a sports venue.

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The Winnipeg Arena is full of many ghosts of curling events past.

The 1970 Brier may have set the standard for Canadian curling championships to come but there were many other very special happenings.

Like the 1991 men's and world's curling championships, which were awarded to Winnipeg to help save that event from sinking to a slow death. The championships had been suffering poor crowds for years leading up to '91 so the powers that be decided to move them to curling's mecca. Wise move.

Not only did the crowds come out in droves, the championships will forever be remembered for Canada's Kevin Martin playing with "that filthy broom" and his Scottish opponents claiming that he was cheating. The Scots won but people are still talking about the success of that event and that "filthy broom" to this day.

Then there was the 1998 Brier. Dale Duguid skipped the Manitoba team 28 years after his father, Don, had won the Brier in the same barn. The crowds were disappointing but that Brier will be remembered as the coming out of Quebec's still popular Guy Hemmings. Now known as the Clown Prince of Curling, Hemmings won over the fans with his colourful ways. No one will forget when the lights went out during his final against Ontario's Wayne Middaugh. In the dark, Hemmings changed the scoreboard to show that he was winning, not losing. It didn't help. He lost the game but won the hearts of curling enthusiasts across the country.

There were more curling memories there but the last curling event to be held at Winnipeg Arena was the 2003 curling championships.

And it ended with a bang as Winnipeg's Dave Nedohin -- who was throwing last brick for Alberta's Randy Ferbey -- won the world crown right in front of his hometown fans.

"As a little boy, you dream of a chance to win the worlds and to do it in front of friends and family in your hometown is a moment fulfilled," said his wife Heather.

"It was a dream season capped off by a dream event," Nedohin said. "It's as good as it can get in this sport."

Interestingly, the Ferbey foursome became the first to win back-to-back world crowns since Duguid did it in 1970-71.


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