Savill takes on bigger lead role

JOE PAVIA -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Playing lead can indeed be rewarding.

With $30,000 winner's money at stake in the Home Hardware Masters of Curling Grand Slam final on Sunday, Ottawa's Craig Savill helped secure Glenn Howard's 5-4 victory over Randy Ferbey.

Now at the top of the money and points list by winning or qualifying six times this season, the men with the lavender shirts, white belts and pink brushes are making more than a fashion statement.

"I think out of all the great teams we were sort of underlooked a little bit." said Savill. "It was always the Ferbey show or the Martin show. After our Brier run, people are taking us more seriously."

The decision to get it right this season happened at the end of last season -- a year where they missed eight weeks of work. "Right after last year we sat down and decided that we had a good run," said Savill. "Let's try to get the spots and see what happens. We are all committed."

Team Howard has been on the road for 10 of the 11 tour weeks.

It is back to curling reality this weekend for them as Ontario men and women struggle through zone playdowns -- the first step in the process to attain a provincial championship.

Zones usually do not feature meticulous ice and sharp rocks of Slam fame.

"At the Brier you can lose a few games and you're still in it," said Savill. "But with the double knockout at zones, you have one bad game and your back's against the wall."

They have to make it through the zones and regions because the last chance Challenge Round conflicts with another Slam event. Once a leader in progressive curling , Ontario now clings to an antiquated playdown structure.

"All the teams across the country are saying why haven't you done anything to change the playdown structure," said Savill.

Ontario systemically restricts its best teams from advancing by refusing to grant exemptions into the provincial championships.

"Having more teams playing on good ice with good rocks and treated like professional athletes at the provincials will make more teams curl more," said Savill.

When he returned to Ottawa, the down to earth lead had a priority.

"The first thing I did when I got home was to see how my Wednesday night team did," he said.

WM CARP CLASSIC: Jeff McCrady and his team of Gilles Allaire, Jeff Norman and Mike Stachon earned $3,000 by beating Doug Johnston in the last Ottawa Valley Curling Tour event of the campaign. The runner-up got $1,800. The qualifiers featured two junior ladies teams as semi-finalists -- Rachel Homan and Jaclyn Rivington -- at $1,200 each, with J.P. Lachance, Ray Jones and Jonathan Beuk earning $1,000 each. Homan was defending champion.

OCA RESULTS: Those advancing to the January senior provincials include A: Roy Vallillee, and Joyce Potter; B: Layne Noble and Raja Wysocki. In zone 2 schoolboy and schoolgirl, those moving on are: A: Lynn Kreviazuk and Graham Russell; B: Emma Miskew.

IN THE HOUSE: Team Ferbey's Scott Pfeifer, Marcel Rocque and Dave Nedohin are locked in a 'who will cut their hair first' battle. Because of an idea spawned by a Special Olympian curler Richard Smith, the City View facility will host a Special Olympics Curling Challenge on Dec. 8 starting at 4 p.m. The athletes will square off against their supporting partners, including the police.

THIS WEEK IN CURLING: Men and women's zone action is at Navan, Gananoque and Renfrew, while schoolboy and schoolgirl zones one and three playdowns happen in Morrisburg and Winchester.


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