Yeo, it's crazy

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

SYLVAN LAKE -- It's been a wacky start to the Alberta Scotties.

Big ends, big comebacks, no-lead-is-safe kind of wacky.

Entertaining for the fans and exciting, in a scary kind of way, for the players.

This is the second year the provincial women's championship has been held on arena ice.

At the same time, it's the end of an era.

Icemaker Tim Yeo of Gibbons is about to retire.

At a time when legendary icemaker Shorty Jenkins was jokingly referred to as Russ Howard's personal icemaker, Yeo emerged as Alberta's answer.

Yeo has already bought himself a double-wide in Phoenix and is ready to move to a place that's considerably warmer than the curling rinks he's spend many winters of his life in.

After finishing here, Yeo and his crew will finish their Alberta run at the men's provincials in Wainwright.

"This is it for provincials," said Yeo. "After this year, that's it.

Enough's enough. The only ice I'm going to worry about is the stuff I make in Phoenix and put in my scotch.

"It's time for the young guys to get going."

Yeo allowed himself to be convinced to be part of the crew making the ice at the 2010 Brier in Halifax, but that's it.

Calgary's Cheryl Bernard was instrumental in getting women's curling into an arena setting and knows Yeo's skills will be hard to replace.

"It's unfortunate we're losing somebody like that," said Bernard.

"I think they should offer him more money and make him stay. He's a great icemaker. I can understand him going somewhere warm. We all want to.

"I still think they should fly him in for stuff and fly him back to Phoenix.

"We're crazy to lose somebody like that in Alberta. We don't have enough good guys as it is.

The surface here has a lightning-quick 16-second draw time with a 4.5-foot swing that makes the outcome of each throw questionable.

It's slicker than the Grand Slam events some of the elite teams here play on and a nerve-wracking experience for those teams who have never played on arena ice.

Grande Prairie's Renee Sonnenberg pointed out there's not much room for error.

"It curls a ton, you can make a lot of shots if you throw it good, but it keeps you honest," said Sonnenberg, who's also sad to see Yeo go.

"That's unfortunate for curling in Canada and particularly in Alberta.

I hope he's training good guys underneath him."

No lead is safe and you'd have to look no further than yesterday morning's A Event semifinal between Crystal Webster and defending Alberta champion Shannon Kleibrink for proof.

Webster found herself down 6-0 after two ends in a game that Kleibrink won 9-8.

"That's the beauty of the ice Tim Yeo has done," said Kleibrink's third Amy Nixon. "You always have a chance. It's great for the fans, it's great for us.

"You know you can claw back, whereas on straight ice you're just done if you're down."

In any event, Yeo's skills have been instrumental in helping bring Bernard and Cathy King's vision of building the women's game to a new level.

"I think bringing this event into an arena has been great," said Bernard.

"We also wanted more teams at provincials, younger teams to get more experience after we're done and long gone from this game.

And, we get to play on arena ice before going to a Scotts. It's really good arena ice, one of the best. I wish he wasn't quitting."\


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