Martin's out of it

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

EDSON -- Edmonton curler Kevin Martin won't get a shot at the 2005 Brier.

And his chances of playing in the provincials are over, too - leaving organizers of both events without a marquee name.

Martin dropped a 7-6 extra-end decision to spunky and aggressive young skip Ted Appelman in the C semifinal of the men's northerns yesterday.

It's the first time since 1999 that Martin, the six-time Alberta and two-time Brier champ, has not been in a provincial.

Martin may be $10,000 away from being curling's first million-dollar winner, but all the money in the world couldn't buy him a berth in this year's provincials.

DOWN THE HIGHWAY

When last seen, Martin and his crew were headed down Highway 16 in their chartered casino bus, getting ready to pack their bags for this week's Canada Cup event in Winnipeg.

"Oh, well," said Martin.

"We're two days away from a Slam and I know what I'm expecting there."

Strangely, Martin and defending champ Randy Ferbey have only appeared at two provincials together, last year at Hinton and 2001 in Stettler.

Over the years, the world's top two teams have met in only one provincial playoff game. Ferbey won in 2001, springboarding his four-year reign.

It seems Martin had trouble mentally all week escaping his Grand Slam alternate universe, pining for its perfect conditions.

"I never did figure it out," said Martin, handing out a clue about his ice-reading abilities. "I never got comfortable. Actually, none of us did - I think I can safely say that. As a group of four, we never figured it out."

And, their body language showed it.

On more than one occasion this weekend, team members let their frustrations boil over.

Broom-slamming, animated actions, colourful language.

The playdowns grind is not the showbiz world the team has convinced itself it rightfully belongs in.

The rocks don't know a star is throwing them and the ice couldn't care less.

WANTED IT

Martin really did want to represent Alberta at the Brier. That was never in question.

"I wanted to be in Edmonton, absolutely," Martin said. "It would have been fun.

"Unfortunately, that's not the case. I'll be sitting with you guys."

The end was excruciatingly painful to watch as Martin blew 3-0 and 4-1 leads.

Appelman stole a single on a brilliant tap-back through a narrow port in the eighth to tie the game after scoring a pair in seven.

Martin missed a chance to blank nine, but was thin, giving Appelman another steal and the lead.

"The peel in nine I've gotta make, that's a big one," said Martin.

"Eight, he made a great shot. That was a peach.

"You've got to give that one shot of the game ... whoo, beauty."

GROUND TO A HALT

He had another chance to win in 10 with a tap-back for two, but his rock ground to a halt and did not move the potential winner back far enough.

"We should have lost this morning (comeback win over Sherwood Park's Mark Klinck) and we should have won this afternoon," said Martin.

"It's nip and tuck when you get into C.

"I feel bad about the game we played, but I'm not sure if it's worse than anybody else."

When it counted yesterday, it certainly was.


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