Swiss spiel a tonic for King and crew

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Swiss Miss? Missed it by that much.

Cathy King and crew arrived home from an overseas adventure at the inaugural Basel women's masters spiel in Switzerland.

Unfortunately, not even a lucky toonie imbedded in the ice by a Canadian icemaker could get them over the hump against the best women's team in the world. They dropped a 9-7 decision to Anette Norberg, the Olympic gold medallist who dominated the women's world championship at Grande Prairie this spring. King gave up a five-ender in the sixth end, but still came home with $4,463 runner-up money.

"They were unbelievable," said King. "They must have made 10 runback doubles. They can throw the weight like the men do."

INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE

It was a chance for some international exposure for the crew. King had not been to Europe since her stint as Team Canada skip in 1999. None of her current supporting cast had international curling experience.

"It was great to have them play games against teams they've only seen on TV." King clearly hopes her rink will get another crack at the world's best. There were plenty of off-ice memories from the land where gun ownership is compulsory. "The funniest picture, for me, is the one we have of us in the train station. We're in a non-smoking room trying to get out of the haze," said King.

It's going to be a different playdowns path for the women this year. King welcomes the decision to drop the city playdowns. The 2007 playdowns will start with the northerns in early January at Jasper Place. "Because of all the scheduling conflicts with other bonspiels, there were fewer weekends to put on zone events," said King.

POINTS SYSTEM URGED

King and Alberta players rep Cheryl Bernard would like to see an Alberta provincials setup similar to the men, where cashpiel points would be used to qualify additional teams.

"I would like to see a 10-team round robin," said King.

BERTH HUNTING: In most years, Kevin Martin would give this weekend's Flint Energy Curling Classic at Bonnyville a pass. But, since the seven-time Alberta champ shook up his lineup this off-season, he gave up the defending provincial champ bye. Defending champ honours reverted to runner-up Mark Johnson. Bonnyville is part of the Alberta Tour which qualifies two teams to this year's Alberta final in Drayton Valley. Martin needs to rack up points to avoid the playdowns grind. The spiel features a sensational lineup for curling fans: Randy Ferbey, Johnson, Don Walchuk and 2006 Saskatchewan champ Pat Simmons.

Martin has won 23 of his first 25 starts after a 15-game win streak out of the gate. "That's pretty solid ... 92% in won/loss," said Martin. "My goal is to be around 90, but 90 is a bit ambitious. As long as we're in the 80's, on the ice and in the win/loss, we've got to be happy."


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