HIGH RIVER — Geoff Walker was just happy to beat Randy Ferbey.
“That was awesome. In my mind, he’s a legend. To beat him was something special for me and the team,” said the skip of beating the six-time former Brier winner and four-time world champion. Walker’s Grande Prairie team came in seeded 11th for the Boston Pizza Cup provincials to determine Alberta’s team at the Brier.
That was Thursday.
This was Friday.
And the son of a Beaverlodge teacher with family members who own the Beaverlodge True Value and IGA stores, ended up against the current Brier and world champion.
And down went Kevin Koe!
To an 11th seed no name!
It ranks as one of the most stunning upsets in provincial finals memory.
“Tom Sallow, our third, just said it. ‘We just beat the world champions,’ ” said the 25-year-old who beat former Olympic silver medal winners Don Walchuk and Don Bartlett in the afternoon to draw Koe in the B Event final.
Now up comes current Olympic champion Kevin Martin Saturday night in the 1-2 game which sends the winner to Sunday afternoon’s final and the loser to the Sunday morning’s semifinal.
“We’re pretty pumped,” said the young insurance broker who plays with 26-year-old concrete finisher Sallows and 21-year-old table games dealer Adam Lamers at lead and 35-year-old Calgarian pick-up Mike Westlund, a project manager who is the husband of Shannon Kleibrink third Amy Nixon.
“We didn’t pick him up until four days before our districts,” said Walker.
“This was only my ninth or 10th game with this team,” said Westlund. “I wasn’t even going to play. Initially, I said no. We were moving that weekend. Then Amy said ‘Why don’t you do it?’ I thought, ‘I’ve been at home by myself on numerous weekends. This is a chance to step out of her shadow.’ ” he added of the pint-sized Nixon who won Olympic bronze at Torino 2006.
Westlund says he’s been blown away by Walker.
“Geoff is just an amazingly cool kid,” he said. “He’s so calm and level-headed. I like how he thinks things through. He doesn’t get ruffled.”
Koe, who gave up three on the first end and found himself down 6-1 after four, thought Walker’s team was starting to show signs of coming unglued late but held on to win 7-6.
“What can I say? That was not our best game by a long shot,” Koe said.
“We had some chances late but I just played poorly. We won’t beat anybody playing like that,” added the skip who finds himself suddenly down to his last life in C Event.
It was a day which saw Ferbey finally get a win after losing to Walker and 12th seed Graham Powell to open the tournament when he hammered Powell 10-1. But Ferbey was eliminated in the evening with a 10-8 extra end loss to Tom Appelman of Edmonton.
Steve Petryk and Scott Virtue, both of Calgary, survived the day. Petryk will play Koe and Virtue meets Appelman in C event afternoon games with the winners going to the Sunday morning 3-4 game.
But mostly it was Geoff Walker’s coming-out day.
“We didn’t see this coming. I can’t lie to you,” said Walker. “We put this team together to build for the future. We came here to get experience. Our goal was to stay around for the weekend.”
By that, he meant Saturday, not Sunday.
This is a team which had $1,500 of sponsorship this year and hopes to get about 25 times that next year to play on the tour and accumulate points toward Olympic trials qualification and to position itself to be in the mix when Martin, Koe and Ferbey are gone.
“That is the plan,” he said.
So who is this guy?
Walker is 25 and won a world championship as third of Charlie Thomas’s team in 2006 and, while overage for Canadians but legal for international competition, joined him as an alternate for another the following year.
He’s been playing for Kurt Balderston’s teams in this event for the last three years and lost to Ferbey in every one of them.
“We came here hoping to make a name for ourselves,” said Walker. “Becoming one of the top teams in the world is a goal of ours.”
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