Jeff vs. Goliaths

TERRY JONES, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

DRAYTON VALLEY -- Kevin Martin has never heard of 'em before.

"Nobody on our team knows anything about 'em. Never seen 'em. Never played 'em."

What we're dealing with here is, for sure, a fuzzy-wuzzy story.

It's a warm and wonderful, ultimate underdog story of longshot Jeff Ginter making it to the 1-1 game of the Kia Cup provincial curling final here today against overdog Edmonton's Kevin Martin.

Sold for a rock bottom $800 in the fundraising jacket auction, Ginter goes against the No. 1-ranked rink in the world, which sold for the top price of $11,000.

FAIRYTALE

"I don't know if you'd call this a fairytale. But it's a privilege. I'm thrilled to have the experience," said Ginter, the Dawson Creek conservation officer who has been big-game hunting here all week.

"I've been trying to get there for a lot of years. I'm proud to be playing some of these teams," added the Ginter guy.

"But we came here determined to win three of the five games in our pool, and we did that. We're not surprised we have three wins. We're a little surprised with which games we won.

"I sure don't mind hearing those cowbells," he added of his tiny cheering section in the near-empty building.

"For the 1-1 game, the stands may be full of people with cowbells. There were a few people from Dawson Creek telling us they'd see us on the weekend if we made it to the playoffs. It's about five-and-a-half hours to get here from there. They'll have to get up real early to get here," he said of the 2 p.m. game.

There's another twist to this story.

"I don't think a rink from British Columbia has ever won Alberta before," said Ginter second Kelly Row, a Red Deer native who became a Dawson Creek TV sportscaster 15 months ago.

There's even another angle here.

Randy Ferbey last-rock thrower Dave Nedohin, part owner of CurlTV, offered Row a job telecasting the event here before Row qualified. Then he gets here, beats the Ferbey Four for openers, and creates this whole scenario which followed.

"I would have made more money working for CurlTV," he said.

But as good a story as all that is, it's a sorry story, too. It's all a result of a fractured format being used in the Kia Cup.

"Try to explain this. We beat him 11-5. To get him first place!" said Rob Armitage.

Well, yes. Ahem. Uhhh. There is that.

The 11-5 loss to Red Deer's Armitage in the final draw of the round robin resulted in Ginter ending up in a three-way tie with 3-2 records with Randy Ferbey and Don Walchuk, two Edmonton rinks he'd pulled off 'Jeff vs. Goliath' wins over here.

"Ginter has the same 3-2 record as the other two teams, but he needs two wins and has a second life. The other two rinks have to win four straight to get to the Brier," said Armitage.

"What's wrong with this picture?"

There's a lot of that going on around here this year.

It works like this. Martin and Ginter won their pools. They play each other in the 1-1 game of the Page playoff system. First place from Pool A versus first place from Pool B. The winner goes directly to Sunday's final. The loser drops to a semifinal tonight.

Martin, who put away Adrian Bakker of Calgary 7-2 to go 5-0, doesn't think it's fair because there are only five games in pool play.

"It's fair in that Ginter beat both of us," said Nedohin of Ferbey and Walchuk. "But that's about where it ends."

TOOK IT FURTHER

Ferbey took it further.

"It's the perfect example of what's wrong. Yes, Ginter beat both of us. There's no problem with that part of it. But it's not right. We're all 3-2. To have two chances to win one game to get to the final, compared to two teams with the same record needing to win four straight sudden-death games to win it ... It's too big of an advantage."

No argument here.

"From where we're sitting, it's looking really fair," laughed Ginter.

But, hey. The seriously screwed up system they use here has resulted in a decidedly delicious story. There's no arguing that either.


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