Battle lines are drawn

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

As if to emphasize the point, Randy Ferbey proved, on the ice, that he belongs in the Canada Cup West. Ferbey, along with Edmonton rival Jamie King were the first two teams in the gate for tomorrow's playoff round, winning their A Event qualifiers.

The Canadian Curling Association had been questioned about the wisdom of including already-qualified men's teams in an event that served as a vehicle to get into next year's Olympic Trials.

King's last rock Blake MacDonald expressed that viewpoint quite succinctly in the Edmonton Sun earlier this week.

ON THE SIDELINES

When Team Ferbey articulated their reasons for being included, the CCA agreed it would be unwise to leave one of Edmonton's high-profile teams on the sidelines.

"It's not only about the Trials,'' said Ferbey, one of four teams here already assured of a spot in Halifax. "There's also the Canadian Teams Ranking System, which applies to the provincials bye for 2006.

"What's the reason we shouldn't be here? Every event you go to - the (2004) Brier, there's teams that won spots, so they gave it to the third-place team (Jay Peachey). The Canada Cup is the same sort of thing.

"Because we already have a Trials spot, does that mean we shouldn't go there (Kamloops, to defend Canada Cup title) also? Where does it end?''

Sooner or later, Ferbey pointed out, any team with aspirations to represent Canada at Turin, Italy, in 2006 will have to knock off the teams already in place.

Edmonton is just as good a place as anywhere.

"Exactly,'' said Ferbey. "So, what do they want? A free ride there? You take (Jeff) Stoughton out of the picture, (John) Morris out of the picture, us out of the picture, Peachey out of the picture, this field is a little weaker.''

PITCHED BATTLE

And, in Edmonton, putting on the type of pitched battle Ferbey had against Dave Boehmer of Winnipeg yesterday gives fans the entertainment level they've been missing for years.

"I think the fans here want to see the best play,'' said Ferbey. "You still have to beat the best four or five teams to get there. If you're a good team then come and beat us out. When you do it, you deserve it and away you go.''

And, although Ferbey stopped short of saying there may be an element of envy involved ... well, the only way teams can prove they belong is on the ice and not in the boardroom.

"It not about cheating the fans, but you're cheating yourself if you think you can get in through the back door,'' said Ferbey. "Beat the best and become the best. Beat the top guys. We had to do it. Stoughton had to do it. Morris had to do it.''

In some way, it's even easier here.

"In a roundabout way, if you think about it, it's easier for the teams because they don't have to win the thing,'' said Ferbey. "They can finish fourth and still get in. If we (four qualified teams) weren't in it, they'd have to win the event.''

King has put himself in a position where he can do just that. Now the war of words could well end with a war on the ice if the teams meet in tomorrow's final.

EXTRA ENDS: Trials qualifier Jeff Stoughton was eliminated last night by Jason Jacobson, meaning this event will declare a men's team for the Trials... On the women's side, Stephanie Miller and Cathy King have qualified for the playoff round.


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