Big top 10 lined up for Kamloops

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

There's going to be a definite Edmonton flavour at the 2007 Canada Cup in Kamloops.

Randy Ferbey, Kevin Martin, Kevin Koe and Mark Johnson give the curling world's capital city four representatives in an intimidating 10-team field.

Glenn Howard, Jean-Michel Menard, Jeff Stoughton, John Base, Kerry Burtnyk and Pat Simmons round out the field.

Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue is the most notable absence. Gushue's stumble has dropped his team out of the Top 10 list of best teams in the country for the first time this year.

Other than being the biggest payday of the year, the winner of the $150,000 March 13-18 event will be the second (after the Brier winner) of 16 teams in the starting gate for the 2009 Olympic Trials.

Johnson grabbed the bonus Canadian Teams Ranking System spot by a fraction of a point over Wayne Middaugh when Middaugh lost his quarterfinal match to Base.

"It's fantastic Mark is in there,'' said Martin, who grabbed one of the three available spots at the Canada Cup qualifier here at the Saville Centre. Base and Stoughton claimed the other two. Since Ferbey had already pre-qualified, that opened up the fourth CTRS spot for Johnson.

"The best way to get to the Trials is by being one of the top CTRS teams three years in a row,'' said Martin, the 2002 Olympic silver medallist. "As long as you get into a few semis and a few finals, you'll get enough points to be in the top two or three. The key is to be consistent.''

Stoughton needed to get into the semis this weekend to assure himself of a Canada Cup berth.

"If we would have lost our quarter, Johnson would have edged us out by 0.2 of a point,'' said Stoughton. "I would have been livid. This was our only way into the Canada Cup and we did it.

"We know to win (the Olympic Trials) you need to be in the top 16 and the quicker you can get a spot, the better.''

Base grabbed the third spot out of Edmonton. The relatively unknown Oakville, Ont., skip played third for Mike Harris in the 2004 Brier.

"We're happy,'' said Base, whose team put up an exclamation point on their weekend by beating Stoughton to get into the final against Martin. "We're a team that kind of came together this year. If you look at the resumes of everybody on our team, we're not under the radar. We came here expecting to do well and we are.''

Koe's team would have preferred to win their spot outright instead of losing the quarter to Ferbey. This year, Koe is 0-4 against Ferbey, 1-5 against Martin and 0-2 against Howard.

"We're beating everybody else on a pretty consistent basis,'' said last-rock Blake MacDonald. "It's kinda bittersweet. We knew we were in the Canada Cup before the game started, but it would be nice to get more wins against the top dogs.''

Getting into the semi was about carrying on the December hot streak for a pre-qualified Ferbey.

"For us, it was all about playing well,'' said last-rock Dave Nedohin, whose team has won Yorkton and lost a Grand Slam final this month before losing yesterday's semi to Martin. "We're already in everything we needed to be in (including the 2007 Alberta final), so it's a matter of continuing to play well after Christmas.''

Ferbey next plays in Perth, Scotland, in the new year. Meanwhile, Johnson is sure to enjoy his Christmas present. Martin went on to beat Base 7-3 in last night's final to claim $12,000 first-place money.

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QUALIFYING PROCESS

- Winners of national title (Brier and Scotties), Canada Cup, Players Championship and CTRS yearly points leaders for three seasons (2006 -07 to 2008-09). Total of 12 teams.

- Add four non-qualified cumulative CTRS points leaders over three different time frames ending in 2009.

- Out of that 16, four will be chosen to go directly to the Trials.

- The remaining 12 teams proceed to the newly created Pre-Trials qualifier to compete for four more berths.

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CANADA CUP

MARCH 13-18, KAMLOOPS

Qualified teams:

- Glenn Howard, Coldwater, Ont. 2005-06 CTRS (defending champion berth, defaulted by Kevin Martin)

- Randy Ferbey, Edmonton, 2006 Players Championship winner

- Jean-Michel Menard, Quebec, 2006 Brier winner

- Kevin Martin, Edmonton, Canada Cup qualifier

- Jeff Stoughton, Winnipeg, Canada Cup qualifier

- John Base, Oakville, Ont., Canada Cup qualifier

- Kerry Burtnyk, Winnipeg, 2006 CTRS points

- Pat Simmons, Davidson, Sask., 2006 CTRSpoints

- Kevin Koe, Edmonton, 2006 CTRSpoints

- Mark Johnson, Edmonton, 2006 CTRS points


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