Voice of curling going silent after 25 years

CON GRIWKOWSKY, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 4:00 AM ET

The Moose is on the loose.

After a quarter-century as a colour man in the TSN curling broadcast booth, Ray (Moose) Turnbull is on his farewell tour.

He'll be there for the Scotties, Brier and world championships but after that he'll turn his microphone off for the last time.

"It's been a fantastic 25 years," said Turnbull. "It's been a great gig and I've loved it, but I'm tired. I'm 70 years old. There's some things I want to do. I have a daughter that lives in New Zealand. I want to go there for a month or two in the winter time.

"I think John Madden said it best of all: 'It's time.' It's time for me, it's time for the game, it's time for a change. I love it but you're away from home a lot."

Turnbull, his sidekick Linda Moore and play-by-play man Vic Rauter have imprinted themselves into the curling fans' consciousness. They are by far the most viewer-friendly crew to broadcast curling and have almost become an institution.

"I've made so many close friends," said Turnbull. "Vic, it's going to be hard. Vic and I spend a lot of time together. He's been with me 24 of those 25 years, but I'm ready."

Fans have plenty of their favourite Moose Moments, but what Turnbull's most proud of is his role in being a voice and face that has helped curling's popularity grow.

"The most fun for me is the results from the fans and seeing the game grow on television," Turnbull said. "When I started in 1985, we had numbers that were respectable and now you know what the numbers are."

Consistently in the multi-millions for many of the major events.

"It's been really gratifying to see the game go like that," Turnbull said. "The thing I like best of all was the respect I got from all the players over the years. They didn't believe everything I had to say and well they shouldn't. But they always respected my opinions and that's been great."

It was no secret Turnbull, a former elite curler in his own right, bled Manitoba brown and was a bit of a cheerleader for teams that wore the Buffalo on their backs.

"I'm a Manitoban, sure," said Turnbull. "I try to be as impartial as I can, but the best curling in the world right now is done in Alberta, male and female. It changes over the years. I'm a Manitoban, you bet."

There are too many on-ice highlights over the years to fully articulate, but he will take some memories with him.

"There's a whole bunch of highlights," said Turnbull. "I can't even start to think of the number of shots that were spectacular shots. You think about Guy Hemmings' draw to the side of the button at the Winnipeg Brier (in 1998)," said Turnbull. "You think of all the times with Russ (Howard) and (Ed) Werenich and those games.

"The fun of the ice, there's been a number of things that have happened. Some day, I'm going to do a book. I just have to wait for a number of people to die."

Oh, there will be another face in the main booth next year.

Somehow, though, it won't be quite the same. We'll miss ya, big guy.

CON.GRIWKOWSKY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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