Curling trials not perfect, but still best

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:56 PM ET

So Randy Ferbey won't be slurping pasta off a plate in Turin this February. Neither will Kevin Martin.

Generally regarded as the two best men's curling teams in the country the last few years, neither came through at the Olympic Trials in Halifax.

Same with six-time Canadian champ Colleen Jones, and reigning champ Jennifer Jones on the women's side.

Those four skips have combined for 13 Canadian titles, yet they won't get any closer to the Olympics than the guy sucking back a beer in front of his TV set.

Which, no doubt, is leading some to wonder: are we using the best possible system to choose our Olympic reps?

You could argue the American system is better. The Yanks send their national champs from the previous year, which allows them a full 12 months to prepare as the U.S. Olympic team.

That argument has some merit. The problem with it: the field for our national championships feature provincial reps, not the best 10 teams in the country.

Using the Brier and Tournament of Hearts as the Olympic qualifier would give weak teams from weak curling provinces an equal shot at Olympic glory. The field at the Trials is always stronger than any Brier or Scott.

Some countries simply choose their four best curlers, throw them together and say, "Go get 'em, boys and girls."

That's just stupid.

For my money, the way we do it is probably the best.

And if the so-called favourites don't make it, well, that's what happens in a game where a club curler can knock off a world champ on any given day.

So whoever makes the grade for Turin this weekend gets full marks for coming through when it mattered most.

Now, if only they'd start coming through when Olympic gold is on the line.

There'd be no better stamp of approval for the way they qualified.

LOONIE LONIE: I pity Brendan Taman and every other CFL GM trying to re-sign players, after watching the Ottawa Renegades throw a bag of money at linebacker Kyries Hebert this week.

Apparently, 'Gades president Lonie Glieberman believes Hebert deserves a five-year contract worth up to $1 million, with the first two years and $300,000 guaranteed.

Milt Stegall has never had a guaranteed contract, for crying out loud.

Lonie must have been hit over the head with a woman's purse one too many times.

MAIL BAG: This last item comes courtesy of the e-mail bag, starting with a nice little rant from Winnipegger Guy Wilde.

This rant is about the sports fans of our fair city, writes Wilde. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but I suspect it was about the time the Jets joined the NHL that we somehow got comfortable with mediocrity... now it seems like even close is acceptable in this town.

The Goldeyes go to the championship finals ... and everyone seems to be proud of this as some sort of outstanding achievement!!! The Moose ... for the first time make any noise in the playoffs, and we here in River City want to have a parade down Portage Avenue!!! I won't even talk about the Bombers ... but if this team were to make the playoffs next season, the fans here would go into convulsions.

It really has become terribly unsettling to watch us make heroes out of also-rans.

I couldn't agree with you more, Guy.

It's an easy phenomenon to explain, though.

You see, when your team sinks to the absolute depths of hell (the Bombers of 1997-99, for example), even a .500 season seems like a success.

Yet when successful teams like the Edmonton Eskimos or Montreal Alouettes go, say, 10-8, they take an awful lot of heat. Would you want that?

On second thought, don't answer that.


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