Mister Continental

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

Add another feather in Randy Ferbey's cap ... the man who helped save the Continental Cup.

It was less than a year ago in Camrose that World Curling Federation president Les Harrison gave a less than even chance the popular event would be back after its scheduled hiatus for the Olympic trials.

Yesterday, when Warren Hansen of the Canadian Curling Association made the official announcement the seventh Continental Cup would be held Jan. 13-16, 2011 in St. Albert, he acknowledged Ferbey's role.

Oh, there was some pretty good trivia at the announcement, such as the fact Feb. 14 is the 150th anniversary of St. Albert's incorporation in 1861. And, unofficially, 500 years since curling was first played.

"The deal we had with them is the event would continue if we got a title sponsor," said Hansen about an understanding between curling's governing bodies. "And we got a title sponsor.

"They (WCF) were under a bit of pressure from the European element. European television, to some degree was an issue. We will, for sure, make a signal available to them via the web, which we haven't done before. It was just that they were having difficulty to justify the expenditure for an event that has never been played outside of Canada. If we got a title sponsor, which we now have, that would alleviate that concern."

That's where Ferbey came in. He became a facilitator between the CCA and his major sponsor, World Financial Group. An initial meeting was arranged when Ferbey's team played in last year's Skins Game in Toronto.

"We sort of set it up," said Ferbey. "We thought it would be a natural for World Financial Group to get involved more in curling. They expressed interest a couple of years ago, actually. We introduced the parties last year in Toronto and it went from there. They won't be disappointed in this sponsor, that's for sure."

Ferbey has been involved in previous Continental Cups and agreed it would have been a shame for it to drop off the radar screen.

"Absolutely," Ferbey said. "It's a great event. You know what, it was slowly starting to catch on. I'd love to be part of this again. It's good that it's back immediately while it's fresh in people's minds. It's close to home and we've got a great curling community here, so I'm sure it will do well."

And, Ferbey kidded that he was not above pulling a few strings for a chance to play in it again.

"If we can get back in this ... I'm going to try to use my power with the World Financial Group to get a wild card," he said.

Not to mention Ferbey's bar is close by on St. Albert Trail.

"Somehow, we have to tie that in, too," joked Ferbey, who hosted a shindig at his St. Albert Trail watering hole after the news conference. "I've been thinking about that all day."

WFG president Rick Williams said it was a natural move for his company to expand their involvement in the sport.

"With our relationship with the Ferbey group, we got exposed to curling," said Williams. "It really parallels what we do as an organization ... grassroots, community-based. There was a good connector. With the Olympics pre-trials, it seemed like a good opportunity for us to get more involved with curling."

Ferbey's team has appeared at many company functions over the past several years.

"The one thing about the Continental Cup that really attracted us is that it had a global, Ryder Cup spin to it," said Williams. "That was different and unique. From our perspective, it was a different event that we normally have in curling."

CON.GRIWKOWSKY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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