Burtnyk honoured for '95 world title

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:11 PM ET

The Manitoba curling legend was piped into MTS Centre along with his whole family.

And the standing ovation the 6,000 fans in attendance for last night's Grand Slam Canadian Open gave Kerry Burtnyk drowned out the piper.

Burtnyk, a two-time Brier and one-time world champion, was presented with the World Curling Tour's Ambassador Award for his contributions to the game.

"You are a world-class champion and a world-class guy," said Premier Gary Doer, who declared it Kerry Burtnyk Day. "You are an inspiration to all of us."

Burtnyk was joined by his teammates who helped him win the 1995 world title, namely third Jeff Ryan, second Rob Meakin, lead Keith Fenton and fifth Denis Fillion. All five will be presented with championship rings as they weren't ready for last night's presentation.

"That was a big shock," Burtnyk said following the ceremony. "It was absolutely a surprise. It symbolizes something that you have accomplished in the sport."

Burtnyk, 47, retired after failing to qualify for his third Olympic trials last year and was humbled by the deafening applause.

"It was overwhelming," said Burtnyk, one of the founders of the Slam. "I've had a standing ovation at competitions before but, to have one in my hometown is a very special feeling."

ALMOST DONE: Garry Van Den Berghe, who was on the verge of announcing his retirement in the immediate aftermath of losing the Olympic trials finals, has decided to soldier on for the rest of the season.

"I decided to finish out the year, then I'm done," the second for Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton said yesterday.

Stoughton, by the way, has entered the MCA's 118th Annual Bonspiel.

JUGGLING: Ken Tresoor, who was at third for Manitoba's Dave Boehmer Thursday, was replaced by Chris Neufeld, second for Vic Peters, for the noon draw yesterday due to work commitments.

And Alberta lead Don Bartlett skipped Kevin Martin's squad against Norway's Pal Trulsen last night.

ITALIAN YELL: Russ Howard, who plays second and calls the shots for Newfoundland's Olympic-bound Brad Gushue, said Moncton is honouring the only New Brunswick athlete heading to this year's Olympics in Italy.

"My hometown is putting up a big billboard of me saying, 'Hurry Hard!' in Italian," Howard said with a laugh.


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