Excuse Randy Ferbey and his Edmonton rinkmates if they’re not totally locked into taking top honours in the men’s division of the 2009 Red Deer Curling Classic opening Friday at the Red Deer Curling Centre and Michener Hill.
Ferbey and his supporting cast of Dave Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque have every intention of claiming the men’s top prize of $8,500 from the $32,000 available, but human nature would suggest that they’re looking past this weekend’s Asham World Curling Tour event and towards the Canadian Olympic trials Dec. 6-13 at Edmonton’s Rexall Place.
The Ferbey foursome, six-time Canadian and four-time world champions, qualified for the trials by posting a 6-0 record in last April’s Players’ Championship in Grande Prairie, but have won just $16,882 in five WCT cashspiels this fall and sit 13th on the circuit’s money list.
The Red Deer Classic is the final cashspiel on the team’s schedule prior to the Olympic trials.
Among the other rinks likely to take a run at the Curling Classic championship include those skipped by four-time Swiss champion Ralph Stockli, who was runner-up in the 2003 world championship and lost the 1996 world junior men’s final to James Dryburgh of Scotland at the former Red Deer Curling Club, and Mike Jakubo of Sudbury, who represented northern Alberta in the 2009 Brier.
Other men’s rinks of note are skipped by former Saskatchewan champion Brad Heidt of Kerrobert, and Jamie King of Edmonton. In addition to Stockli, Thomas Dufour of France and Claudio Pescia of Switzerland give this year’s Classic an international flavour.
Representing Central Alberta on the men’s side are Red Deer rinks skipped by Rob Armitage and Lowell Peterman, and Geoff Humphrey’s Eckville foursome.
The women’s event features a long list of familiar faces, including defending two-time Canadian champion and 2008 world champ Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, and former Canadian and world champion and Olympic medalist Kelley Law of Abbotsford, B.C.
Other names of note are Marla Mallet of Vancouver, the reigning B.C. champion and runner-up to Jones in the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, defending Alberta champ Cheryl Bernard of Calgary, former provincial winner Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary, Renee Sonnenberg of Grande Prairie and Heather Nedohin of Sherwood Park.
The women’s division also features three international rinks, headed by 2009 Scottish champion Eve Muirhead, Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland and Sijia Liu of China.
The Red Deer Curling Classic concludes Monday with the women’s and men’s finals at 3 p.m. at the Red Deer Curling Centre.
Friday’s opening draws are as follows:
10 a.m. — Warren Hassall, Lloydminster vs. Rob Armitage, Red Deer; Brent Bawel, Calgary vs. Rob Krepps, Edmonton; Wade White, Spruce Grove vs. Terry Meek, Calgary; Dean Ross, Calgary vs. Andrew Biletsky, Port Coquitlam.
1 p.m. — Thomas Dufour, Chamonix, France vs. Mike Jantzen, Calgary; Mark Johnson, Edmonton vs. Doug Rae, Edmonton; Mike Jakubo, Sudbury vs. Scott Egger, Brooks; Brad Heidt, Kerrobert vs. Geoff Humphrey, Eckville.
4 p.m. — Claudio Pescia, Wettswill, Switzerland vs. Don Delair, Airdrie; Jamie King, Edmonton vs. Leon Moch, Medicine Hat; Steve Petryk, Calgary vs. Tyrel Griffith, Vernon; Lowell Peterman, Red Deer vs. Justin Sluchinski, Airdrie.
7 p.m. — Ralph Stockli, Ittigen, Switzerland vs. Tom Buchy, Kimberley; Randy Ferbey, Edmonton vs. Jamie Koe, Calgary.
Red Deer Curling Club
10 a.m. — Adina Taska, Burnabyvs. Megan Kirk, Lethbridge; Cheryl Bernard, Calgary vs. Andrea McCutcheon, Edmonton; Shannon Kleibrink, Calgary vs. Bobbie Sauder, Edmonton; Renelle Bryden, Grande Prairie vs. Paula Knight, Edmonton; Renee Sonnenberg, Grande Prairie vs. Karallee Swabb, Edmonton; Kelley Law, Abbotsford vs. Casey Scheidegger, Lethbridge; Jennifer Jones, Winnipeg vs. Krista Crowther, Calgary; Kristen Recksiedler, Maple Ridge vs. Lisa Johnson, Edmonton.
1 p.m. — Leslie Rogers, Calgary vs. Tiffany Odegard, Edmonton; Silvana Tirinzoni, Aarau, Switzerland vs. Deanne Nichol, Edmonton; Marla Mallet, Vancouver vs. Joanne Delanoy, Edmonton; Maria Bushell, Calgary vs. Chelsea Carey, Winnipeg; Faye White, Edmonton vs. Nola Zingel, Lloydminster; June Campbell, Calgary vs. Eve Muirhead, Stirling, Scotland; Allison MacInnes, Kamloops vs. Valerie Sweeting, Vegreville; Heather Nedohin, Sherwood Park vs. Sijia liu, China.