Walchuk shaken

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

DRAYTON VALLEY -- Don Walchuk, a man to whom curling at times has meant more than life itself, missed his two most important games of the season here yesterday.

The remains of his rink lost both of them.

IN DISTRESS

Showing up for a morning game against his best friend Randy Ferbey, Walchuk was described by several to be in distress. He was characterized as being "wobbly" and is said to have fallen down in the practice session.

The night before he was part of the post-game party patch scene at the Omniplex with fellow players, fans and media members where he had several drinks, leaving before last call.

When the curlers showed up for the 9 a.m. event, Walchuk was much worse for wear than when they'd last seen him.

The 43-year-old Edmonton skip was escorted out of the arena and taken back to his hotel room, leaving teammates Brent MacDonald, Warren Hassall and Brandon Melnyk and spare Jeff Erickson to play the game.

Walchuk was urged to remain in his hotel for an evening sudden-death playoff game against Kevin Koe.

His rink lost 6-3 to Ferbey in the morning and then lost 9-7 when Brent MacDonald, skipping the team and throwing last rocks in Walchuk's absense, had his last rock pick, leaving Edmonton's Kevin Koe a hit for three to win the game.

It eliminated Walchuk's team from the tournament.

"Isn't that sick,'' said Randy Ferbey, who will play Koe today, of MacDonald's last-rock pick.

"Just brutal.''

Ferbey said it had been a difficult day for everybody involved.

"This is about a human being and good friend and that's more important than curling. This is about a friend who needs help right now - our help.

"Everyone in the world needs help once in a while and more than anything right now, we want to be there for him.''

MacDonald said curling was secondary to both teams yesterday.

"Randy and I talked about that. We're going to help him through whatever he needs help with and get him through it. That's what friends do and what teammates do.''

Walchuk's marriage broke up two years ago and he recently underwent surgery to remove part of his intestine.

Walchuk was jettisoned by Kevin Martin who went with new teammates this season.

John Morris replaced Walchuk at third.

THREE-TIME WINNER

Walchuk, who played 11 years with Martin, is a three-time Brier winner, one with Pat Ryan and Ferbey and two with Martin.

He won a silver medal with Martin at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games.

Walchuk subbed for Dave Nedohin to join the Ferbey rink in winning the Viking spiel last weekend where they each won 55-inch television sets.

With Brent MacDonald throwing last rocks and skipping Walchuk's team, it put him up against brother Blake, who throws last rocks for Koe.

"They played such a great game and it came down to a pick,'' said Blake of the pick-filled event. "Those guys all shot great. It was a tough week for them.''

Brent didn't know what to say when it was over.

"It's frustrating but I guess it happens. It's too bad. We played a good game considering everything we went through today.

"I guess it wasn't meant to be.''


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