January 4, 2006
Packin' Oly baggageFerbey foursome trying to live down trials collapse
By PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun
Their resume speaks for them: a record four Brier wins in five years, three world titles and more tour victories, not to mention dollars, than you can shake a broom at.
Yet, right now, they are better known for what they didn't win: a berth in the 2006 Winter Olympics.
So while Randy Ferbey's Alberta squad won't be packing its bags for Turin, Italy, next month, it does lug a certain amount of baggage into Winnipeg this week, for the Grand Slam's Canadian Open.
Make that a serious amount of baggage.
In short, they're still mighty PO'd.
"I like to think we're over it," Ferbey began, via cellphone from Edmonton yesterday. "But it still bothers ... I still think about it all the time. Not all the time. But slowly getting over it."
And in the next breath...
"We were devastated by it," he said. "And we still are."
It's not that Ferbey and Co. played great and lost, either. They didn't even make the playoffs, coming up flat in the biggest bonspiel of their lives -- not exactly the grace-under-pressure performance they'd been used to producing.
Of course, that produced all kinds of questions when they returned home, questions that haven't stopped, it seems.
"I've heard 'em all," Ferbey said. "Wherever we go, a lot of family and friends are disappointed, and it's understandable. There's high hopes ... and you're one of the favourites. To be not even close is probably more devastating than losing in the final.
"It was four years down the drain, in preparation for that event. But at the same time, we don't want to lose perspective on what we've accomplished in the past and what we're going to accomplish in the future."
Which brings us to the present.
Ferbey calls this week's Slam event the beginning of a second season for his team, "kind of like starting all over."
You can't help but wonder, though, how tough it'll be for him, Dave Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque to pull themselves up off the mat so soon after being knocked flat on their keesters.
"We talked about it (Monday) night and had a good team discussion about these things," Nedohin said. "To make sure we were prepared to go to Winnipeg and play well. It does certainly still come up in our discussions about what went wrong for us, or why we weren't at our best (in Halifax).
"We have our own ideas of what we need to improve on ... but those are things our team will probably keep to ourselves and work on for the next three months to get ready for the Brier playdowns."
Nedohin points to his team's history of bouncing back from tough losses.
Thing is, they haven't had a lot of practice at it. And they've certainly never lost a bonspiel with so much at stake. A bonspiel they'd geared their entire lives toward, putting work and family life on hold to curl full-time.
"It is worth it, even if it didn't work out," Nedohin said. "We prepared ourselves as well as we possibly could. If you went the other way and didn't commit to it, you'd always wonder."
Perhaps the only thing left to wonder is not if the Ferbey Four will bounce back, but rather how long it'll take.
We'll begin to get our answer this week.
"One weekend is not going to destroy our team," Ferbey vowed. "It's not like we're ready to pack it in. Hopefully we'll be back at the Brier. We'll be gearing up to do what we've done in the past. Nothing's changed, really, other than that one disappointment this year."
Like it or not, though, it's on the resume.
And part of this team's baggage for at least the next four years.