Cross-border shopping

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:32 AM ET

His press conference ended with more questions than answers.

Manitoba's reigning men's champion Kerry Burtnyk finally confirmed yesterday that Alberta's Don Walchuk will indeed become his new third, as the Sun first suggested when Burtnyk cut Dan Kammerlock.

But will Burtnyk be back to defend his title? If so, will Walchuk be part of that foursome or will Burtnyk pick up a replacement from the Manitoba scrap heap?

OLYMPIC DREAM

Will Burtnyk lose his berth in the Olympic trials qualifying tournament and the estimated $50,000 that goes with it because he has now replaced two players?

Although chasing his Olympic dream remains Burtnyk's priority, he does intend to defend his Manitoba title and will check eligibility rules with the Manitoba Curling Association.

Walchuk, however, expressed reluctance to even pretend to move to Manitoba to fulfil those requirements.

"I would have some reservation in terms of respect for other people who live in Manitoba," Walchuk said over a speaker phone at the conference held at a team sponsor's facility. "But if my team wants me to play there and we're allowed to do that, then that is something that I would certainly entertain.

"The key thing here ... is not so much playdowns but it's Vancouver 2010 (Olympics)."

Burtnyk also confirmed that both second Richard Daneault and lead Garth Smith will be back. However, because Smith replaced an injured Rob Meakin for most of the season, the Canadian Curling Association has told Burtnyk to apply for a medical exemption so he can keep the Canadian Team Ranking System points he earned to maintain his spot in the trials qualifier. Burtnyk needs to ice three of last season's four players and never did register Smith as an official player.

If the CCA rules against him, Burtnyk will soldier on.

"There's going to be eight more teams that qualify next year so I think our odds to qualify for one of those spots would be very high," he said.

Meanwhile, Burtnyk has been an unabashed admirer of Walchuk since he lost the 2001 Canadian Curling Trials final to Alberta's Kevin Martin.

"He's one of the best thirds to ever play the game," Burtnyk said. "He's someone who has a won a world championship (1989), has been an Olympic silver medallist (2002). As a matter of fact, he was the biggest single reason that they were able to beat us in '01.

"We're really excited to have Don. He's going to add a significant amount of experience and a lot of talent to our team and help us try to achieve what our dream is, and that's to field the best team we can at the (2009) Olympic trials."

That experience was the missing ingredient to the Burtnyk squad that finished in the top five of the cashspiel trail last season but failed to beat the best with any consistency.

"The main goal of a lot of the teams now is really the Olympic dream and that's what brought me out of retirement a couple of years ago," Burtnyk said. "With all the changes that are taking place, everybody realizes that in order to beat the best teams in the world, you have to be able to field the best team that you can."

Burtnyk added that he only has two years left while Kammerlock has a promising curling career ahead of him.

"You could say I'm being a little bit selfish, that I have such a short time frame that I want to do the best I can to try to achieve this goal," Burtnyk said. "I'm very lucky that Don has agreed to play with us. We feel it's a coup."


Videos

Photos