Randy Ferbey’s name adorns the trophy for the first Nuway Crushing Cashspiel, which wrapped up yesterday at the Whitehorse Curling Club.
But it almost didn’t.
Facing Yukoner Wade Scoffin’s rink in the semifinal, the four-time world champion’s game started to slide, but he managed to steal a win in the 10th end.
Ferbey, arguably one of the most famous curlers ever, was invited to Whitehorse’s first World Curling Tour event in the hopes of boosting its profile.
Of course he was going to win it, right?
“We’re not ringers,” said Ferbey, who walked away with $6,000 from Sunday afternoon’s final.
“We could have easily lost the semifinal today. A shot here, or a shot there and we could lose it.”
“It was tense,” said Cashspiel chair Derek Charlton.
“But it’s great to see a Yukon team giving Randy Ferbey’s team a run for their money.”
Scoffin’s rink, which included James Buyck, Chad Cowan and Clint Ireland, finished third for $2,250.
“It was a great game, both teams played really well,” said Scoffin.
“I’ve played Randy at different times, in the Brier mainly, and also at World Curling Tour ‘spiels — the nice part was being able to play them on our ice.”
The final had Ferbey’s all-stars (which included Don Walchuk, Arnold Asham and Chris Schille) facing off against Paul Hunter’s rink, (Craig Tuton, John Yeulet and Pat Molloy) the three-time Yukon seniors’ champs.
After the nail-biting semifinal, the championship match was a bit of a letdown, with Hunter calling it after six ends, his rink trailing 10-2.
“Us old guys are just beat up, we’re too tired,” said Hunter after the match.
“It’s been eight games this weekend and we came up from the very bottom, we were just happy to be in the finals, we didn’t expect to win.”
Hunter’s rink took second place and $3,500 in prize money.
“It was a great tournament,” added Hunter. “Everybody had fun. I think the audience was treated to some good curling, although our last game wasn’t our best, that’s for sure.”
Cashspiel organizers are hoping Ferbey and his team will talk up the Whitehorse ‘spiel on the World Curling Tour.
This year’s inaugural tournament had room for 24 teams, but only 12 ponied up the $750 entry fee. That fee sits in the middle of the pack among national bonspiels.
Although it wasn’t a full draw, the success of this first event bodes well for the future, said Charlton.
He’s aiming for 16 teams and a purse increase next year.
“It’s our first year, and any event needs a good base to start, and I think we accomplished that this weekend,” he said.
“At first we were a little disappointed that we only had 12 teams, but when you look at the road relay and other events that are huge for the Yukon, they all started really small, and you just have to build your base properly.”
For Arnold Asham, who came North from Winnipeg to play with Ferbey, the remoteness is the only thing holding the event back.
“That’s the tough part, because it’s a beautiful facility — it would be top-notch anywhere,” he said.
“Great ice, great rocks — you could host so many events, but where it is makes it more difficult.”
Local curlers like the chance to compete at home.
“It means a lot, financially,” said Scoffin. “It’s pricey to travel for competitions — you’re looking at $4,000 for a weekend just to get more experience to meet your goal of getting to the Brier.”
The hometown crowd helps, too.
“We knew everybody was behind us. And sleeping in your own bed, not having to eat hotel food — that helps as well,” he added.
For the champ, it’s a rare treat to play at a club like Whitehorse’s.
“We love coming to smaller communities, and the club members enjoy it,” said Ferbey, who will return to his regular team in Edmonton for the rest of the season.
“When you go into larger venues in big cities, you can get lost a little bit. This is where I enjoy curling the most, in these rural towns.
“We’ve had an absolute blast, our teammate Chris Schille said it was the most fun he’s had at a bonspiel, and he’s been to quite a few.”