Where does Burtnyk go from here?

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

His Olympic dream died when his last rock slid to a sudden stop on B.C. ice on Saturday.

Kerry Burtnyk surrendered a steal of two in an extra end to drop a 7-5 decision to fellow Manitoban Jeff Stoughton in a playoff match of the Canada Cup. The loss snuffed out Burtnyk's last hope to qualify for the 2005 Canadian Curling Trials.

"It was very frustrating because we came so close at the Canada Cup last year, then the Canada Cup West (bonspiel) this year and now this Canada Cup," Burtnyk said from Kamloops yesterday. "We've been knocking on the door pretty hard, but no one was home.

"We certainly left everything on the ice, and it just wasn't meant to be, I guess."

Burtnyk had authored one of the greatest comebacks in local sports when he recovered from cancer surgery, then made it to the 2001 Olympic trials final, only to lose to Alberta's Kevin Martin, the eventual silver medallist.

Although speculation had been that Burtnyk would call it a career if he did not make it to the 2005 trials, he was not ready to make such a decision yet.

"It's too soon," said Burtnyk, who pocketed $5,250. "What's next for me is to catch my plane out of here."

Because Burtnyk lost, Martin clinched the trials spot available at the Canada Cup. He went on to beat both Stoughton in the semifinal and fellow Albertan Randy Ferbey 6-5 in the semifinal to also earn $33,500.

Because Martin won the Canada Cup trials spot, Ontario's Glenn Howard will get the one that goes to the top eligible foursome on the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS).

SELECT SPOT: Stoughton, who settled for $10,500, unofficially clinched the CTRS exemption into next year's Safeway Select with his showing. However, should his squad win the Olympic trials, that exemption would have to go to Dave Boehmer, the next Manitoba team on that CTRS list, because the Olympics conflict with the Select.

Both Stoughton and Boehmer will compete at the Grand Slam's Players' Championship that starts in St. John's, Nfld., later this week. Burtnyk had dropped out, knowing that he could not catch either Martin or Howard in the CTRS standings. Because all of the trials spots have now been determined, it will take much of the drama out of the event.

COMING UP: While the season is over for Burtnyk, second Rob Fowler is expected be one of the top seeds for the Manitoba mixed, which starts in Morris later this week. Fowler skipped a squad that eliminated last year's champion, Terry McNamee ... Winnipeg's Adam Norget, Reid Carruthers and Sam Owen will compete at the national university curling championships in Edmonton this weekend ... Burtnyk will be the guest speaker when the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club celebrates its 75th anniversary with a dinner on April 8. Tickets are $25 each. Call the club for more info.


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