Scales trying to fit in

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

That was quite a collection of curling talent at the downtown rink yesterday, as the Grand Slam's Canadian Open got out of the hack.

On sheet A, you had three-time Brier winner and two-time world champion Randy Ferbey and his sidekick, Winnipeg's Dave Nedohin, squaring off against Winnipegger Vic Peters, also a former Canadian champ.

Over on sheet E, Olympic gold medalist Pal Trulsen of Norway was tossing granite with our own Jeff Stoughton, another former world champ.

FOUR WORKING STIFFS

Smack-dab in the middle of it all, on centre court, no less, four working stiffs from Swan River, trying to prove they belong.

"It makes you think you're doing something right," Todd Trevellyan, lead for the Brent Scales rink, said of sharing space with such lofty company.

Scales did something very right last February, knocking off all comers, including Stoughton, to win the Manitoba title in one of the biggest upsets in provincial curling history.

Problem is, they haven't won anything since.

That provincial crown is what got him invited to this little soiree, but let's be honest: to say he fits right in would be a bit of a stretch.

Scales has won $5,000 on the cash circuit this season, Ferbey $150,000.

While Ferbey, Stoughton, Kevin Martin and most of the 14 other teams here this week fly across the country on the World Curling Tour, Scales and his buds pile into their car on weekends for the Manitoba Tour.

Yesterday, those two very different worlds converged, and our Swan River boys looked like tourists at a fantasy sports camp.

"You look out there and see 15, or 14, probably, of the best teams in the world," Gord Hardy, Scales' third, was saying.

That's right, 14 of the best -- and then Scales.

Think our rural rink was a little intimidated?

"The first two ends kind of showed me we were," suggested Trevellyan.

Ah, yes, the first two ends. Against Newfoundland hotshot Brad Gushue, a recently-graduated world junior champ who created such a stir at last year's Brier.

Well, Gushue scored three, then stole three, and before you knew it, Scales was curling's version of six feet under.

If the underdogs were a little shaky going in, imagine how they felt at that point.

"It's gonna make for a long eight or 10 ends," Scales recalled thinking.

"Or a very short one," Trevellyan pointed out.

Hardy, manager of a financial company back home, may have had the best grasp of the situation.

"Oh, sh--, I hope we can make it to five," is what he was thinking.

Scales did manage to make it 6-2, but the damage had been done. Not even Trevellyan, one of Swan River's top plumbers, could stop the leaking.

After eight ends they shook hands, the score 10-4.

"You take the six off, then it's 4-4. A close game," Trevellyan said, proving even the darkest cloud has a silver lining if you look hard enough.

Hardy blamed focus, or lack thereof, more than nerves, saying his team just wasn't mentally ready to play.

"The first two ends, we just didn't show up," he said. "You want to come out and prove you're able to be here. Unfortunately, we didn't ... it was just disgraceful. There's just other things on other people's minds, maybe."

Now, these guys knew they were in tough here. This week was about getting ready for the provincials in two weeks as much as anything. A learning experience.

"Hopefully, it doesn't turn out to be a negative," Scales said.

We'll take a page out of Trevellyan's book, and look at the bright side: cheap drugs.

If things don't get better, Scales, who owns a pharmacy back home, can always call in a prescription for painkillers.

He might want to make it four. Extra-strength.


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