Hurry hard, party harder

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

Anyone who has ever been to the Labour Day Classic knows that the Queen City knows how to party.

And party heartily they did at the Regina Brier dubbed Parti Gras. It even included beads but few bare breasts. It was, er, cold after all.

The biggest Brier Patch in the history of the Canadian men's championship saved the city from the embarrassment of failing to sell out a single draw. It may have even set an attendance record of its own as separate tickets were sold to the Patch for those who never set foot in the arena. More than 200,000 drinks (beer or shots) were sold there over a 10-day period and its own gross revenue may be a record once all the beans are counted. The Canadian Curling Association has already told the Regina committee that it would consider awarding the city another major curling event, which should bode well for Brandon's fading hopes to host a Brier.

It's a good thing fans enjoyed themselves away from the rink because this Brier featured some of the most boring and sloppily-played games ever witnessed -- even with three of the original Grand Slam squads on the scene.

Without further adieu, here are our impressions of the week:

TEAM CANADA

There was some talk about awarding a Brier bye to the defending champ just like the Scott Tournament of Hearts does. And the week really could have used Alberta's Randy Ferbey, if for no other reason than his witty, sometimes sarcastic, interviews. Like the Scott, Team Canada could be used as a major marketing tool to promote the event.

FUNNIEST STORYLINE

Saskatchewan second Chris Haichert admitting to the Regina Leader-Post that his team started winning only after he went "gitch-less" on the ice.

But we don't know if he donned his shorts when Pat Simmons started losing again. Nor do we know if Haichert met a lot of curious folk in the Patch wondering what, if anything, he was wearing under his kilt.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS

The failure of both Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton and Alberta's Kevin Martin, who were seeking their third Brier titles, to display the kinds of games that have made them two of the best teams in the world.

The only time Stoughton really displayed his unique talent was the first day of the Hot Shots and his two Brier-ending spinaramas. Apparently, both teams were befuddled by the rocks. Funny thing is, Ontario's Glenn Howard had those conditions solved until he lost the final to Quebec's Jean-Michel Menard.

MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENTS

We take no issue with a curler slamming his or her brush in frustration. But Stoughton crossed the line when he admittedly slammed his brush in front of a CCA official "just to piss him off" because the volunteer told him to cool down. Having said that, there is something wrong with a system where a curler is told after the fact that he had already been accumulating fines.

But we also cannot believe that Alberta lead Don Bartlett was not admonished for what he did. Bartlett mounted Brier Bear and pantomimed a sex act but in an arena that included both young children and the elderly among the 6,000 there.

What Bartlett did was much further over any line that Stoughton crossed.

MOST TOUCHING MOMENT

Newfoundland's Brad Gushue being introduced to the Brandt Centre crowd to a standing ovation, then a clip shown of the emotion the team displayed just after winning the Olympic gold medal in Italy.

In a media conference hours before, Gushue's voice got shaky as he talked about his mother's battle with bowel cancer, even being hospitalized while he was in Italy. She has since recovered.

BEST STORY

B.C.'s Randy Nelson relating how he escaped death while hunting salmon poachers in the B.C. interior.

He had been stabbed, run over and attacked by a grizzly bear.

Throw in the Quebec team winning the Brier for the first time since transplanted Manitoban Jim Ursel turned the trick way back in 1977.

Quebec third Francois Roberge even had one of the best quotes of the week: "What I want is for Quebec to stay in Canada so, I can get back to the Brier."

BEST INTERVIEW

Manitoba third Jon Mead usually provided the most insightful and intelligent opinions, whether it was about his team or another curling subject.

Stoughton also proved to be the most colourful curler both on and off the ice.

Ontario's Glenn Howard was not only thoughtful but he was most gracious in defeat after losing the final to Quebec.

BEST QUOTE

"You'll have to ask him what he's attracted to."

-- Nova Scotia skip Mark Dacey after Bartlett mounted the Brier Bear mascot, which has an older male under the outfit


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