Howard bows out of Canada Cup event

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Anybody hoping to see a rematch of Sunday's Masters of Curling final here next weekend between Glenn Howard and Randy Ferbey are going to be disappointed.

Howard, who took over No. 1 spot on the World Curling Tour money list on Sunday, has bowed out of the Dec. 14-18 Canada Cup qualifier at the Saville Centre.

"The message I got from the (CCA) Canadian Curling Association is that it was legitimate family reasons,'' said disappointed Saville Curling manager Rob Krepps.

It's not that Howard needed to travel here to earn a spot in the March, 2007 event in Kamloops and the first berth up for grabs to the 2009 Olympic Trials. He's already qualified for the event.

So is defending Brier champ Jean-Michel Menard , who won't be here either. Ferbey, a two-time Canada Cup winner (2003-04) will ice the only pre-qualified team at this event.

With $76,000 up for grabs, the CCA-sponsored WCT event beats Lloydminster's Wayside Inn Classic by a grand as the largest non-arena event on this season's curling calendar.

DUTIAUME, GUSHUE EXPECTED TO BE HERE

The 48-team event features Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue, and the usual contingent of Manitoba teams, including 2005 Brier rep Randy (Lunch Box) Dutiaume.

Add a who's who of Edmonton teams currently occupying six of the top 13 WCT money list spots, in an event that's a preview for 2007 Alberta playdowns ... and it's shaping up to be a pretty decent show.

Among them is defending Canada Cup champ Kevin Martin, who gave up his title and bye when he shook up his lineup for the new Olympic cycle. That's what gave runnerup Howard his bye to Kamloops.

Martin is somewhat relieved that he's already qualified for Kamloops as the current CTRS points leader and world's No.3 money earner.

"For us, it means a lot to be in the Canada Cup already,'' said Martin. "With Christmas season coming up, it's going to be hard to find time to play, especially since the M & M store is going to be so busy. It's refreshing for our team to not have all the pressure of needing this to get into the Canada Cup. This is a pretty big deal for Edmonton.''

FORMER MARTIN RINKMATES HAVE SOME OPTIONS

After former teammate Don Walchuk rediscovered some magic with former Martin lead Don Bartlett last weekend, the rumours were flying that the team could reclaim the 2006 Canada Cup title if they'd reunite with second Carter Rycroft.

"Anything's possible,'' said Rycroft, who's currently playing with the world's No. 6 team skipped by Kevin Koe, a foursome that includes last-rock thrower Blake MacDonald. "It's curling. You never know. It would be fun. But, we'd just as soon qualify here (with Koe).''

Ferbey has zoomed into a solid fourth place after a win in Yorkton two weeks ago and his $18,000 payday last weekend.

"Better to start flat than be flat in February,'' said Marcel Rocque.

Ticket packages are available at the Saville Centre, 492-2222.


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