Graham cracked

JIM BENDER, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

It could have turned his whole life topsy-turvy, never mind his curling world.

Back in the fall, Travis Graham was a passenger in a truck that rolled while on the way to a deer hunt. And it left him to ponder what might have been.

"We were in my father-in-law's truck, and there had been a freezing rain," the third for Valour Road's James Kirkness recalled before defeating Fort Garry's Bill Kuran 6-4 in a Safeway Select city zone A-side final at the West St. Paul Curling Club last night.

"We weren't going very fast, but we caught a rut and the next thing I know, I'm upside down inside the truck. And I felt something like water splash on my face and it turned out to be the glass from the window that popped out. But I had no cuts or anything."

And it could have been much worse. Two ramps for an off-road vehicle slid from the back into the cab, stopped only by the seats behind them.

"So that was lucky," said Graham, 30. "It was so surreal sitting there upside down, me with one child and another on the way, thinking about what could have happened, that I may not have been there for them."

'Back was screwed'

It was not until three days after the accident that Graham started to feel its full effects physically.

"Monday morning, I woke up, and my back was screwed," said Graham, who had reunited with Kirkness at the start of this season. "And I had torn all my stomach muscles and a disc in my lower back also popped out."

Kirkness was worried that he may lose Graham for a significant part of the curling campaign.

"We were all definitely concerned," Kirkness said. "We knew he'd probably be OK for the zones, but you never know. These things can drag on for months."

But he returned in only three weeks.

"A chiropractor popped the disc back in, and now that I'm back I feel great," Graham said. "I definitely did play a lot better when I came back. It felt refreshing to get back."

Kirkness has also enjoyed a revival of sorts this season. After a forgettable campaign when he failed to click with Dan Kammerlock at third, he won $9,500 this year and earned the nod as the No. 5 seed for the zones.

"Night and day," said Kirkness, who also has Al Purdy and Greg Melnichuk on the front end. "Last year was frustrating with the guys because it didn't work out. I don't know if it was a personality thing, but we just didn't click. But he's (Kammerlock) having a great year with (Assiniboine Memorial's) Kerry Burtnyk."

In other A finals, Elmwood's Pete Nicholls beat Assiniboine Memorial's Mike McEwen 6-1 and Granite's Bob Sigurdson clipped clubmate Jamie Hay 5-3. Burtnyk and the other three top seeds were on the late draw.

BITERS -- After extending the deadline a week, the MCA bonspiel now has 438 entries, still 10 short of full ... The MCA's 83rd Annual Women's Bonspiel opened last night with Valour Road's Karen Porritt, Darcy Robertson of Fort Rouge, Brandon's Lois Fowler and Holly Scott of Gilbert Plains -- who are still seeking the last provincial berth -- opening with victories.

jbender@wpgsun.com


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