SELKIRK -- The magic touch was absent, the luck was all bad and the dream of a fifth provincial men's championship was dashed.
Kerry Burtnyk was bounced from the Safeway Select provincial men's curling championship yesterday after a stunning 8-5 loss to upstart Ryan Fry in the semifinal.
Burtnyk was brilliant leading up the semifinal, but stumbled in the big game, missing a couple of key shots and suffering more than his share of misfortune.
"Definitely to lose this game is very difficult," Burtnyk said. "My guys played absolutely fantastic and it was a real heartbreaker."
Burtnyk, who curls with Ken Tresoor, Rob Fowler and Keith Fenton, took out fellow four-time champ Jeff Stoughton Saturday night but couldn't get past Fry, a 26-year-old sharpshooter who went on to lose the provincial final 8-5 to Randy Dutiaume yesterday afternoon.
It was the second time in two days Burtnyk was beaten by Fry and this time the loss hinged largely on a bad break in the eighth end.
Burtnyk played a solid end and was playing a tap-back for two when his rock picked and wrecked on a guard.
"It's a little hard to swallow that so much of the game came down to that," said Burtnyk. "If it doesn't pick we're up one playing nine. Who knows if we would have won, but it was definitely a crushing blow for us."
Always gracious in defeat, Burtnyk commended Fry's team and acknowledged that bad breaks are part of the game. In fact, Burtnyk won the 2001 championship at the Selkirk Recreation Centre when Dale Duguid's last rock picked.
"We got a break that went against us and it's not as though we haven't had those go for us in the past," he said. "Hats off to Ryan's team, they played fantastic when they had to."
The loss means Burtnyk, 46, now has only one opportunity remaining to qualify for the 2005 Olympic Trials. If he would have won here and at the Tim Hortons Brier in Edmonton (March 5-13), he could have claimed a berth that way.
"There's still the Canada Cup (March 15-20 in Kamloops, B.C.) and we've got a chance to get our spot there and we have a few weeks to regroup before that," he said.
GOOD REPS? Despite his disappointment, Burtnyk took time to assess the chances of Manitoba champion Dutiaume at the Brier.
"If they go to the Brier and play the way they are here, on the same kind of ice, I think they will have as good a chance as anybody else," he said.
"They would be a good representative because they deserve to be there. They mix it up pretty good and play all the shots and beat the teams they have to beat."
Dutiaume himself is thinking playoffs, even though the field includes such curling luminaries as Randy Ferbey and Wayne Middaugh.
"I'd certainly like to be at the start of the pack and grind it out, just like we have been," Dutiaume said.
"(Third Dave Elias) and (lead Shane Kilgallen) have been there and that's invaluable. They will definitely be a huge help like they have been already. They play the game like they've been there before."
PEBBLES -- The number of passes and tickets sold at the Select was about 7,000, and the host committee expects to make a profit similar to 2001, when it took in $45,000 ... The site of next year's Select has not yet been officially awarded, but it will likely be in Steinbach.