“You prepare for (retirement), then you make the decision, and then it’s final,” said Ferbey. “But it’s a strange feeling. I’m just so damned competitive. Coming in third or fourth just isn’t for me.”
I remember the first time I saw Ferbey; he was featured on the first-ever TSN curling broadcast in early 1986. Ferbey’s Alberta team was playing Ontario’s Dave Van Dine in the Canadian Mixed final, and when the Ontarians won, Ferbey flipped his wig. Almost as much as his third, Wendy, who happens to be Ferbey’s wife.
I also remember the first time I met him; it was at one of the Canadian Olympic Trials qualifying cashspiels leading into Nagano — at Kelowna, B.C., in the fall of 1996. Ferbey was playing on an alleged Super Team assembled by a thoroughly unknown and soon-to-be-shady businessman named Merv Bodnarchuk — he bankrolled the team, and got to play lead. A revolving door of curling mercenaries did the grunt work; in addition to Ferbey, other high-profile Bodnarchukers included Ed Lukowich, Pat Ryan, Kevin Park, Dale Duguid and more.
Ferbey’s team had just beaten mine and we were swapping tall tales over a beverage. I remember that Ferbey struck me as arrogant. Imagine that.
And Ferbey was still almost five years away from forming his own Super Team, which went on to win another batch of Brier and world titles. And so on.
Nowadays, with both of us planted firmly in the “retired” category, I can appreciate that my squad of young guns probably exuded a different kind of arrogance.
In due time, curling fans and media flocked to Ferbey fandom as his rather blunt nature became his indelible stamp. The simmering feud with a one-time (and very brief) teammate named Kevin Martin added more fuel to his fire, but Ferbey and his mates always backed it up with great shotmaking ... and lots of victories.
Ferbey, David Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque merely dominated the Roaring Game through much of the 2000s, winning four Briers, three world titles and a pile of World Curling Tour cashola.
Ferbey himself won another two Briers and another world crown in the 1980s, as a member of Pat “Ryan’s Express.”
“At the end of the day, (my career) is as good as I could have hoped for,” Ferbey said. “And I’m most proud that we stayed together for 12 years as a curling team. That’s unheard of at a competitive level. We had 12 great years that I’d put up against anyone in the history of the sport of curling.”
No argument here, Ferb. Seniors curling awaits, but first — the golf course.
Now there are two potential curling TV analysts that own a star-in-waiting pedigree: Ferbey and the former third for Glenn Howard, Richard Hart.
Hart, who hung up his brush last summer, made his analyst debut during Rogers TV coverage of The Dominion Ontario Tankard last month. He did a fine job over a single day, two-game stint.
What’s needed is a network to give either one of these fellows a shot, by taking up the challenge against TSN’s curling television monopoly.
First, Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton axed longtime lead Steve Gould. This was deemed strange for a few reasons, including the idea that the 2013 Olympic Trials are in the ‘Peg and that Stoughton, who is now pushing age 49, would stick it out with the faithful Gould.
Now comes word that Amber Holland’s Saskatchewan squad, winners of the 2011 STOH and silver at last year’s worlds, have packed it in. In this case, the Holland foursome already had a berth in the 2013 “pre-Trials” qualifying event sewn up. Not anymore.
Stoughton has taken steps to ensure that Gould will receive a share (severance?) of the team’s athlete funding for 2012-13, a result of the squad’s world championship victory a year ago in Regina. In Holland’s case, some $72,000 in federal funding — that’s strictly for competition and training, folks — will simply vaporize, with no one left standing to claim it.
THE PLAYERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
The final 16 are confirmed for the season-ending Players’ Championship, April 17-22 in Summerside, P.E.I. Eight of the top men’s and women’s teams will battle for some $375,000 in prize money plus valuable Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) points which qualify teams toward the Olympic Trials. They are, as ranked by qualification:
WOMEN — 1. Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg) 2. Sherry Middaugh (Coldwater, Ont.) 3. Heather Nedohin, Edmonton 4. Cathy Overton-Clapham, Winnipeg 5. Eve Muirhead, Scotland 6. Silvana Tirinzoni, Switzerland 7. Chelsea Carey (Morden, Man.) 8. Stephanie Lawton, Saskatoon.
MEN — 1. Mike McEwen, Winnipeg 2. Glenn Howard (Coldwater,Ont.) 3. Kevin Martin, Edmonton 4. Niklas Edin, Sweden 5. Jeff Stoughton, Winnipeg 6. Kevin Koe, Edmonton 7. Brad Gushue, St. John’s 8. John Epping, Toronto.