EDSON -- There's nothing quite like the threat of a death sentence to sharpen the ol' focus.
When Kevin Martin dropped down to C Event, losing on a pair of last-rock steals, he found the little spark to keep him going.
Martin needs three wins today to qualify for this year's provincials at Innisfail, and yesterday the team regained its form with a pair of convincing wins.
"We're definitely not looking too far ahead," said Martin. "There will be some situations where the life will be on the line. Hopefully, we can struggle through. It won't be for lack of trying."
A surprise win by Kitscoty's Dean Davidson in Saturday night's A final means there's plenty of quality teams that would like nothing better than to send Martin packing for this weekend's Canada Cup in Winnipeg.
Martin's rink is $10,000 short of being curling's first million-dollar winner, but all the money in the world can't buy him a provincials berth.
He'll have to do that the old-fashioned way - by earning it.
"Everybody's pretty even here," said Martin. "If there's a whole bunch of close games in a row, you never know. That's the situation we're in. Everybody's pretty even here."
Martin has focused most of his curling energies on the cashspiel circuit, which is a much different universe than the grind-'em-out playdowns.
"We need some incentive, for sure," said Martin. "It's tough for us. It's tough to stay motivated. It's just a little different to what we're used to playing week after week. Mentally, you have to find a focus.
"It's not like it used to be, but you have to find it somehow."
THANKS FOR COMING: Broken dreams, broken hearts.
Only three of the 32 teams that started play at the men's northerns here will get to Innisfail.
The Park brothers team will not be one of them, after their 8-6 loss to 1997 Canadian junior champ Ryan Keane yesterday afternoon.
"Hasta la vista - for now," said Kevin, one of the volatile foursome thrown together for the playdowns run.
After dropping to C in their loss to Wade White Saturday morning, the Parks needed seven straight wins to get to the provincials.
"Lots of firework, lots of fun," said Park about the on-ice words that were exchanged in the loss to White. "We had a meltdown there. If we win that one, we may have been OK. When you drop down to C that early, things just aren't going to work out for you."
That feat was last accomplished by Marv Wirth in 1986.
The fun in the survivor run lasted only two wins as the team finished at a less-than-stellar 3-3.
Park prefers playing for cash on the World Curling Tour as it takes some of the sting out of the relationship. He's not about to give up on another brothers' act next year.
"It'll be on and off again," said Park. "We'll re-evaluate and see what the schedule looks like. Spiels are a bit more tolerable. You don't have the burden of the battling brothers for 10 or 12 games. We came out with a better attitude today, but no wins."
Doug Johnston, with 2003 world senior champ Tom Reed tossing last rocks, was also eliminated.