Senior express

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

SPRUCE GROVE -- Apparently, the old adage of if it ain't broke, don't fix it matters little in this case.

After winning the 2006 world men's senior curling title and losing the 2006 Canadian final to Al Hackner, you'd have figured things weren't broke.

"There were some issues that were jeopardizing the team's chances of winning," said third Marv Wirth who, along with front-enders Ken McLean and Millard Evans appeared to be at the top of their game with former skip Les Rogers.

Whatever ... the team recruited Hall of Famer Pat Ryan to replace Rogers. With Ryan throwing brick and calling the shots, the team put on a dominant performance at the 2007 provincials.

They ran off an 8-0 record and finished off the week by clobbering Colin Griffith of Sexsmith 11-2 in yesterday's final. The team is headed off to Trois Rivieres, Quebec the week following the Edmonton men's worlds in early April.

WON IT ALL

Ryan has won about all there has been to win in curling, including the 1989 world championship while moving from Edmonton to Kelowna.

"There's not much he hasn't won," said Wirth.

With a ready-made winning crew in place, all Ryan had to do was perform his magic.

"No kidding," said Ryan. "You couldn't ask for a plate to be set any more perfectly than that. It's just a matter of whether I could step into the shoes and do my thing. It turned out I didn't hurt them."

Ryan hasn't lost much over the years, but hung up his slider on a stellar competitive curling career after skipping a team to the 2005 Olympic Trials.

"I didn't want to take all that time to do all those World Tour events any more," said Ryan. "I've done it for a good 30 years and that's got to be enough."

Ryan's supporting cast takes the game as seriously as they did during their younger day, so Ryan insisted he would only be available for playdowns.

"The key for me was I practise up and pull my game up in January," said Ryan. "I need to do some work on my delivery before an event. Otherwise, I'm pretty average."

'TOTAL FUN'

Last year's Canadians field included teams skipped by Hackner, Eugene Hritzuk and Bert Gretzinger, teams Ryan battled with in decades past.

"It's totally fun," said Ryan. "It's a social thing, really. It's good to achieve something with a group. These guys are a whole lot of fun to be with.

"It's nice to be part of taking them to another national, which is where they see themselves going every year, I guess. They're getting rewarded for the things they do off the ice."

In the women's final, Diane Foster of Lethbridge will be making her second straight national senior appearance and first as a skip. She switched roles with defending champ Shirley McPherson, who threw third rocks this playdowns season.

Foster set up an extra-end steal with a perfect freeze on shot rock in a 6-5 win over Calgary's Mary Lynn Oates. The game went into an extra end when Oates's last rock in the 10th end picked.

"When it picked it was just 'ugh.' You hate to win or lose on a pick," said Foster, who felt much better about winning by setting up a steal. "It just doesn't feel good."


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