Burtnyk dusts off his broom

JOE PAVIA -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Winnipeg's Kerry Burtnyk has broomed off retirement.

After losing the 2001 Olympic Trials on a last shot to Kevin Martin, Burtnyk, the 1995 world champion, played a few more years, then retired for good last year.

But after watching December's Olympic Trials, the competitive juices started flowing again.

"Watching the Olympic Trials and the Grand Slams started to tweak an interest in me. I still had the fire in me." Burtnyk said by phone this week.

"If I was going to try (a comeback), I wanted to do it differently."

His comeback has been remarkable. He sits on top of the money ladder with close to $40,000.

Team Burtnyk has played in four cash events and won them all: In Switzerland; Manitoba; Gander, N.L. (where he beat Martin); and Winnipeg (he defeated Jeff Stoughton).

He's lost only three games.

SKIPS YOUNG TEAM

And come back differently he did.

"I wanted some young talent in front of me," so he recruited third Dan Kammerlock, 22, and only one year out of junior. "I saw him skip in some men's events and I was impressed."

The front end of Rich Daneault and Cory Naharnie are both 29 years old, but have a lot of experience. Burtnyk turns 48 later this month.

The team will be in 'spiels the next two weekends, then take a week off.

Team Burtnyk started early (Sept. 8) at the Baden Cup in Switzerland.

"We spent the week getting to know each other and having some fun. This was a conscious decision on our part to try to get out of the gate fast."

Since the former Brier champion missed a year, he had plenty of catching up to do so he could qualify for the Grand Slam big cash events. He caught up fast.

The rink is now confirmed as one of the teams in the first Slam event slated for Kitchener in November.

Sidelined a few years ago following cancer surgery, he reports his health is good.

"My last surgery was five years ago and a recent MRI said everything is fine."

SECURES SPONSORS

Fine on and off the ice.

He has secured six sponsors, including two large Winnipeg firms -- Jeld-Wen and Sperling Industries.

"I'm having fun and enjoying the energy level of the young players in front of me."

Too bad for everyone else.

NOT COACH POTATOES: Two coaches received Curl Ontario's Pat "O" Reid Coaching Awards this month. The Manotick Curling Centre's Graham Sinclair received his award for youth curling. His son's rink is tied for first place on the provincial junior curling tour. Sue Kollar from the Ottawa Curling Club is dedicated to Special Olympian curling. Each received a trophy plus a $300 credit to further their training. Each club also got a $500 credit for member coaches' training.

MEA CULPA: Incorrect information appeared about Jean Michel Menard's finish in Switzerland. Team Menard did make it out of the B-side, but lost its quarter-final game to Germany's Andy Kapp (former University of Ottawa student Andreas Lang is Kapp's second). The Gatineau skip left Switzerland with $1,000.

OUT OF TOWN: The Rachel Homan junior team and Jenn Hanna's rink were B-side $2,250 qualifiers in the Southwestern Ontario Women's Charity Bonspiel last weekend. Sherry Middaugh defeated Patti Lank in the final. Team China qualified in Medicine Hat, Alta., on Monday winning $2.250 ... Finnish Olympic silver medallist Markku Uusipaavalniemi is running for a parliamentary seat.

THIS WEEK IN CURLING: The Arnprior Cashspiel begins tomorrow. Menard and other locals Matt Paul, Bryan Cochrane and Guy Hemmings (with his all-western Quebec squad) will compete this weekend in the Coupe Quebec.


Photos