Hurry hard for huge coin

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:05 AM ET

For curlers looking to make huge coin from their game, there's no better opportunity than this year's Brier.

According to a big-picture formula, this year's Brier winner will be compensated to the tune of up to $220,000, the biggest single-event payday ever.

All teams get an average $36,000 in Athletes Assistance Fund shares and perks. The two finalists will get $40,000 each just for wearing sponsor crests. And the winner's bonus is $144,000 in Sports Canada funding.

For comparison purposes, Edmonton's Kevin Martin leads the World Curling Tour earnings list with $115,250 this season ... and needs to shell out cash to pay for hotel rooms, air fares and, sometimes, entry fees.

CRESTING COMPENSATION PACKAGE

This year's Brier has a cresting compensation component based on final weekend television exposure. The third-place team gets $30,000 and the fourth-place team takes home $20,000.

There's a sense of relief in Warren Hansen's voice as he speaks about the state of curling from his office in Vancouver.

Hansen has been the public voice of the Canadian Curling Association for the last 20 years.

And the numbers crunched in a document completed earlier this week firmly put Hansen back in a position of credibility. He's not only walked the walk, he's now delivered the goods.

The former Edmontonian won the 1974 world curling title as second on the rink skipped by the legendary Hec Gervais.

He'd played in more than a few cashspiels in his day, but was convinced the future of the game's growth lay in its reinstatement as an Olympic sport and through its showcase event, the Brier.

The game's profile was raised tremendously on both counts through his efforts as he walked a delicate balance between players, administrators, volunteers and corporate sponsors. And all the time preserving the CCA's properties' status as amateur sports.

"The Brier is a fragile event," said Hansen. "You wouldn't want to make a wrong judgment in how you do something. Our success is based on how people respond to what we do.

"The formula we have now works."

Briers have become a costly venture as the players insisted on, and got, their fair share.

"We're spending $700,000 on the players at Edmonton this year," said Hansen.

That includes air fares, per diem, hotel rooms and various perks that cannot be found in any other amateur sport.

PLAYERS' SHARE WILL BREAK A RECORD

It includes the AAF, the percentage of gate formula first announced at the Vancouver Scotts in 1997 and since sweetened. Edmonton's Brier will break all-time attendance records, so it follows that the players' share will also break a record.

Hansen feels vindicated, since the integrity of the Brier has been maintained.

It's emerged from a challenging period where the CCA had been demonized in an ill-advised tactic to build up the Grand Slam concept.

Hansen has been consistent during the last four years, insisting there's plenty of room for both the Brier and the World Curling Tour on the curling calendar.

"We've withstood the storm and emerged healthier than ever," said Hansen.


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