Jeff slays curling Goliath

Skip Jeff Ginter yells for the sweep while playing against Team Moch during the 2007 Alberta Kia...

Skip Jeff Ginter yells for the sweep while playing against Team Moch during the 2007 Alberta Kia Cup at the Omniplex in Drayton Valley, Alta., on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Jason Franson)

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

DRAYTON VALLEY -- Once upon a time, a long time ago, club curlers dared dream the dream.

Four guys could enter the Brier playdowns and dream that maybe, just maybe,they could get there.

Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. It's what made the Brier unique.

But just when you thought that dream was done, Jeff Ginter beat Randy Ferbey here to open the Kia Cup provincial curling championships yesterday.

The team the curlers made the 12th seed in a 12-team event beat the team ranked No. 1.

Curling writer Con Griwkowsky's 107-to-1 longshot scored a 9-8 win over arguably the greatest team in the history of the game.

"Aw, they weren't really 107-to-1," said Ferbey. "Maybe 105-to-1."

Since curling made it into the Olympics and teams can make as much as $200,000 a year, like the Ferbey Four has managed to do three times, the butcher and baker dream appeared all but dead.

But it lives this morning.

WEAK RESUME

Ginter, a Peace district curler who had only made it to the provincial final once - and then only won one game, on a last rock miss by another struggling skip - knocked off the four-time Brier and three-time world champions.

Ginter beat Leon Moch of Medicine Hat 9-2 in the second draw with third Len Holland, who at 49 is two years older than Ferbey. They're 2-0 out of the gate.

They lead the way after the first day.

"It's my first time here. I've been trying to get here every year for more than 25 years," said Holland, the Fort St. John, B.C. golf course owner and manager.

"It's a pretty exciting way to start. Obviously we didn't think we'd throw thunder at the big team," he said of the Ferbey Four.

"When you compare us to them, it's like they're from the pro league and we're from the amateur league."

While the game has never been more popular, and the TV numbers are absolutely ballistic, the numbers of teams on the Brier trail have been dropping dramatically.

"There are just so many teams who don't go into the playoffs because they look at all the top teams and say 'They're just too good,' " said second Kelly Row, a sportscaster in Dawson Creek, B.C.

Row knocked on the door once before, but lost a final to Tom Reed way back when.

"I mean they're almost professionals. They play almost every weekend. We play three weekends."

Ginter says it's true. Especially in Alberta where the Dawson Creek and Fort St. John area rinks compete.

PERFECT CONDITIONS

Five of the top 13 teams in the Canadian ranking system are here.

"They just think they can't beat those guys," said the Fort St. John, B.C. conservation officer. "Those guys play in perfect conditions. This is the best curling ice we've ever seen. I couldn't ask for a much better day. I mean we were seeded 12th. It's nice to prove people wrong."

Do they dare dream yet?

"Personally, I don't think it can (happen) anymore," Ferbey said.

"Today the top teams put too much time and effort into it.

"Can there be upsets like this one? Absolutely. But to get to the Brier? Realistically? It would be very, very difficult."

Impossible?

"They may not (get to the Brier)," said Dave Nedohin.

"But they just beat us and they won two games on the same day.

"They're going to have this day forever.

"Good on them.

"It wasn't a great day for us, but it was a great day for the game."


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