Once upon a time, Pat Ryan's name was synonymous with Edmonton curling. During the mid-'80s, Ryan's Express became the team that helped shift the balance of curling power north in epic struggles with Calgary's Ed Lukowich.
Former teammate Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin continued the legacy left by Ryan's 1989 world championship.That thirst for excellence has made Edmonton the No. 1 curling hotbed in the world.
Yesterday, Ryan proved he hasn't lost much of his touch. With a 9-6 win over Olympic Trials qualifier and his former third, Jay Peachey, in one of the B Event finals, Ryan has advanced to today's playoff round.
WINNING THE WORLD TITLE
Ryan had moved to Kelowna during the season when he brought the world title back to Edmonton. He won another world title with Rick Folk before striking out on his own.
Coming into the Canada Cup West in Edmonton this weekend, Ryan does not enjoy the same status in curling's pecking order he once did.
Still, he's a money player, ranked No. 9 on the World Curling Tour money list with $26,000 in earnings.
He changed his day job and is now the chief information officer (computer systems) for B.C.'s Interior Health Authority.
And, three bonspiels ago, he pulled a Ferbey and allowed third Jim Cotter last rocks.
Having the former B.C. junior champ toss the brick turned out to be a good move.
"I quite enjoy it,'' said Ryan.
"I'm happy with it. I don't think I'll go back to throwing last rock. We switched halfway through a spiel, we won the next one, so we decided to stick with it.
"It kinda shares the onus a bit on both players. It's kind of nice not to have to call everything, think of everything, plus throw the last rock. It's kind of relaxing.''
Although Ryan lost out in this zone playdowns last weekend, he'd like nothing better than to represent B.C. at the 2005 Brier in Edmonton.
Ryan still has that door open in B.C.'s version of the Last Chance Spiel.
"The only reason we're here is for an Olympic Trials berth,'' said Ryan, who grew up in Winnipeg.
NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER
"I'm not getting any younger, so it would be nice to get there. I like being back in Edmonton, but not necessarily for this event. I'd like to be back for the Brier. I consider this one of my homes.
"This is an awfully nice rink we're playing in this weekend, but it isn't the Brier.''
Ryan still has a shot at a Canada Cup berth if he wins this morning. Still, it won't mean as much if Ryan nails down his Trials spot here today.
"The only thing about the Canada Cup is it has an Olympic Trials spot also,'' said Ryan. "Otherwise, it's just another cashspiel. To me, it's not a big motivator.''
It's the Olympics Ryan is aiming for now, the one curling accomplishment he still hasn't achieved.
A close second would be representing B.C. at the Brier in one of the home bases he still holds special in his heart.