Former champ resurfaces

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

SELKIRK -- Call him the Invisible Curler.

Every time St. Vital skip Dave Smith vanishes and almost becomes forgotten, he reappears and qualifies for the men's provincial playdowns.

The former Manitoba champion took a year off to rest a sore thigh that may eventually require surgery.

But Ron Gauthier, another competitive curler who keeps re-appearing, recruited Smith to play for him in the fall.

Although they didn't play that often, the team qualified at one of the two Manitoba Curling Tour events it entered and earned a berth into the Safeway Championship through the MCA's annual men's bonspiel.

"(Gauthier) gave me a call in the fall and said they needed a player and they weren't playing much," Smith said yesterday. "So it was a good fit for what I was able to do."

That has made it easier on his leg.

"I was going to see if taking a year off would make a difference," said Smith, 44. "I don't know if it really has or not. But I haven't played enough to really hurt it.

"It was sore for a few days (after the MCA) but it didn't bother me while I was playing at all."

Gauthier still seems to have his old touch.

"Technically, he throws well and gets good results," said Smith, who hesitated when asked what his team's chances are here. "Well, we're seeded 28th so ..."

MID-SEASON SPLIT: Petersfield's Dave Boehmer hooked up with the players who curled for Daley Peters last year, namely brothers Matt and Marc Lacroix and Kyle Einarson.

Boehmer started the season with Brent Braemer and others.

"That wasn't quite working out the way I thought it would," Boehmer said uneasily. "But I don't want to talk about it too much because I don't want to cause any hard feelings. The guys I played with separated because things just weren't working out."

Braemer hasn't played since.

Boehmer will be a hometown favourite.

"There's been a lot of people who have come up to me and wished me luck," he said.

ALBERTA ROOKIES: Both Don Walchuk (Kerry Burtnyk) and Kevin Park (Jeff Stoughton), who were recruited from Alberta, will be competing in a Manitoba championship for the first time.

"They're going to find that there's a lot of down time," Stoughton said. "It's not like a roundrobin where you play two games a day guaranteed."

So who has the best Alberta third?

"That's for everybody else to decide on their own," Burtnyk responded with a laugh. "I'm extremely happy with the guy I got."

BITER: Alberta's Kevin Martin, Ontario's Glenn Howard and the final two Canadian teams with direct paths into the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials will compete in a special Grand Slam event in Mississauga, Ont., Oct. 21-25.

The four Canuck squads will play against nine international Olympic qualifiers in an invitation-only Slam as a precursor to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.


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