Triumph or travesty?

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

There looked to be about 300 fans in the stands.

"I think you're being generous," said Randy Ferbey.

"There's never been anybody there. There never will be anybody there."

For the third time in the six-year history of the Strauss Canada Cup in Kamloops, it was an all-Edmonton final yesterday, and this time Ferbey wasn't involved.

But as much as Kevin Koe beating Kevin Martin 6-5 for Koe to win his first major event was a pretty good story, there was a bigger story looming large in the background.

As much as the story was Koe winning the event never won by anybody but an Edmonton rink (Ferbey three, Martin two, Koe one) to get his first snip to automatic entry for the Olympic Trials, the trials themselves provided the story looming large.

Next week at the Brier it will be announced if Kamloops or Edmonton will play host to the Roar of the Rings Olympic Trials.

"If they give it to Kamloops, it'll be a travesty," said Ferbey.

"If it goes to Kamloops, they won't have many more fans than the 200 they get for the Canada Cup. If it goes to Kamloops, it'll tell you the CCA has become all about money."

Edmonton, after setting a Brier record of 280,985 fans and a world championship record of 184,973, was declared a winner in waiting to play host to the event only to see the B.C. government put up a $1.2 million guarantee to try to keep the trials in the province playing host to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

To Ferbey, it's a 5,800-seat rink which won't be full versus a 16,839 seat rink which will be sold-out, especially with three of the top four teams in the world being from Edmonton to help fill it. And two of them faced each other in the Canada Cup final yesterday.

While Martin figures Kamloops would fill the joint because the Olympic Trials are the Olympic Trials, he doesn't know why a $1.2 million guarantee would swing it.

"The profit potential would definitely be higher in Edmonton. I hope it happens in Edmonton. Of the eight men's teams and eight women's teams involved, six of them could be from Edmonton."

Koe doesn't make it unanimous. He'd rather it not be in Edmonton. "We'd prefer it to be here," he said on the phone from Kamloops after the win.

"If it were in Edmonton, it would be a little hectic to play at home. We wouldn't be disappointed if it came to Kamloops.

"If Kamloops gets it, we wouldn't be disappointed at all. With all the family and attention at home, I think it would be easier to get away."

Part of what's involved here, however, is that Kamloops can't even keep the Canada Cup through to the end of the Olympic quadrennial.

After six straight years in Kamloops, the event has lost local-based sponsor Strauss and will be moving to Yorkton, Sask., next year.

The folks in Yorkton will watch the event during the down-the-stretch final scramble for trial spots next year.

Not that it'll be easy to figure out. You couldn't invent a more complicated qualifying system for the trials.

"Even curlers can't understand it," said Ferbey, who said he's still trying to figure out how he could go 3-2 in the round robin in Kamloops and miss the playoffs, while Martin went 2-3 and got through.

As complicated as the system is, it's real simple for the top teams to qualify for the trials. Win three big events and you go direct to the Roar of the Rings. That's what was the biggest part of Koe's win yesterday. It was his second.

In all, 16 teams qualify for trials play, and Martin, Koe and Ferbey have already done it. But only four advance to the trials. To do that you need to win any combination of three events: the Brier, World Championships, Canada Cup or Players Championship in any of the three seasons prior to the trials.

Glenn Howard (Brier, Worlds) has won two, Ferbey (last year's Canada Cup) has won one and Martin went into this with one (last year's Players Championship).

The same scenario exists with the women's event, where Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg became the first to punch a ticket to the great gold rush event by winning the Canada Cup and Player's Championship events last year and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this year. Stefanie Lawton joined Kelly Scott, who has two qualifying wins with her 7-4 win over Scott in the women's final.

Getting to the Roar of the Rings elite four is the main focus as the countdown to Vancouver 2010 continues. And while there were a lot of other reasons for Koe and his rink to be satisfied with their Canada Cup win yesterday, that's the No. 1 reason.

"It's huge," said Koe. "Everyone wants to direct to the final. To not get there and have to qualify from an event with the next 12 teams ... well, that, to me, looks like it would be a bit of a crapshoot."


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