Walchuk's uphill battle

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

Don Walchuk has had to deal with plenty of changes in his life in the recent past.

- Dumped unceremoniously after a profitable 11-year relationship as third for Kevin Martin.

- An ongoing health issue that was resolved in June when six feet of his intestine was removed.

- And a marital breakup.

All tough hands that life has dealt him.

So, when Walchuk was down to his last life and beat Dan Palmer 6-4 in a 'C' Event final at the Crestwood Club to claim one of the nine Edmonton zones for the northerns ... well, at least it's a start.

"I'm happy now,'' said Walchuk, who's just emerging from a tough adjustment period. "My health is good, my work's good and other things are good. Everything's coming around.''

Walchuk enjoyed his ride with Martin, the first and still only skip to win a million cashspiel dollars.

"I knew it wouldn't last forever, but I didn't think it would be over then," said Walchuk, who joined Martin right after losing the 1994 Alberta final to Calgary's Ed Lukowich.

Expectations that he could pick up and keep the cash coming in the way it had for more than a decade were quickly tempered by the reality of building a new team. Coming home empty-handed week after week has a way of wearing on a guy.

"Because it's been such a long time for me with a good team, I thought a few times maybe I should have retired,'' said Walchuk, 42. "I've only got a few years left. It's not that long from Vancouver (2010 Olympics), so I'm not going to walk away yet.''

The team caught fire when Walchuk allowed third Brent MacDonald to call the game.

"You can't just throw a bunch of guys together and win right away," said Walchuk, who has talented Warren Hassall at second and Brendan Melnyk at lead.

"There's very few guys who can do that. It's new for me. It's been new for everybody. It's been frustrating at times, but I didn't expect it to be any different.''

It's been a long road back to respectability. And when the struggles involve more than curling, you have to have a soft spot in your heart for a guy like Walchuk.


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