This is why we love the Brier

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by Margo Weber

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CCA photos by Michael Burns (click to zoom in)

See ya later, asterisk. Hello Team Canada!

It’s the morning after Team Alberta’s big win at the Brier and I’m still rewinding tape. I am an insomniatic (is that a word?) curling-obsessed lunatic. Ha.

That was the best Brier finish I’ve seen in my lifetime, and it should go down with the very best finishes of any curling game ever. It gave me the chills and STILL gets my heart racing when I think about how hard I screamed at the TV and waited for Carter Rycroft’s little head to move so I could really see who was shot rock.

And what a reaction. The team went ballistic, and I love that. Amid the bedlam, Carter grabbed his skip Kevin Koe by his bald head and screamed "What a boy!" Blake MacDonald and Nolan Thiessen went bonkers. The wives jumped up and down in disbelief. Jamie Koe hugged his brother’s wife Carla in the stands with tears streaming down his face.

And I’ll tell you right now the last person on anyone’s mind watching or playing that game... was Kevin Martin.

As far as I’m concerned, any talk about an ‘asterisk’ beside this Brier winner’s name just because Team Martin did not compete, can be shoved where the sun don’t shine. In fact I didn’t even think once about K-Mart and team until after breakfast this morning. Not to take anything away from their amazing Olympic gold medal, which was indeed amazing. But to me, as I’ve said before, that gold was not surprising. It was almost expected.

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This win by Kevin Koe was something people have hoped for, but did not expect. Prior to Sunday night this team has had too many last-stone, last-gasp disappointments hit them at the last second, again and again, and no one seemed willing to put money on them. Their huge Brier victory was dramatic, and it was historic. It was a win against a previously undefeated (12-0) team of Ontario robocurlers, skipped by Glenn Howard (left). It was the first win for a rookie Brier skip since Vic Peters of Manitoba in 1992... just one year after that Martin guy, with a moustache and a head full of hair, did it too. TCN curling Tweep @pjames said this after the first end: So if 90 per cent of teams who score a deuce in the first end go on to win, is there any reason to keep watching the Brier tonight?

Heck, it was the first time a team in the 3-4 Page playoff game has ever gone on to win the Brier.

When a rookie skip draws the button in an extra end to win the world’s most storied curling trophy, it becomes something curling fans will not forget. Was it on the same stage as the Olympic win was in Vancouver? No. This was different. But Kevin Koe and Co. have won a Brier and it was unbelievable.

This Alberta team is colourful, almost too much as times. Midweek I thought a few of them were going to bite each other’s ears off. These guys say things to each other that women’s teams could never get away with. But they settled down mid-week. They picked up play, they picked up each other in their own weird way. And now they are Team Canada and will be off to Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy at the beginning of April for the Capital One World Men’s Curling Championships. They can also book their trips to the Canada Cup in Medicine Hat and the Continental Cup in St. Albert. Both in Alberta. Cool.

In Kevin Koe’s post-game interview with TSN, he was unsurprisingly humble and gave credit to his team and his sweepers for making that shot. When discussing that incredible light-weight hit and roll in the 10th end that killed Howard’s chances to throw for the win, Koe once again used words like ‘we’ instead of ‘I’.

Being from Alberta, I’m kind of forced to state the obvious here. Once again a Team from Alberta has come through and won the Brier, the province’s seventh title in the last nine years. Not to mention also fielding both Olympic teams this year (we’re gonna work this for a while, peeps!)

This was an amazing finish for a Brier that was... let’s face it... mediocre. It wasn’t like last year, where we had so many returning champions you lost count. We didn’t have The Shot... which was followed by The Other Shot. The Gushues didn't do a goofy TSN game intro video (boooo!) We didn’t have those Dader and Madge chicks running amok with media credentials.

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But this Brier was filled with new faces. While I do like that, I also see changes coming. People are always concocting new format suggestions to fix what isn’t necessarily broke, but to make an exciting week even more so. With the success of Team Northern Ontario at this Brier, folks have been once again chatting about the purpose of such a team. (I, for one, understand why Northern Ontario was brought in. It’s a massive province, difficult travel thing. Got it.) But should there be a returning Team Canada?

After this particular Brier win, the concept of a Team Canada makes a lot of sense, considering it’s highly possible that Kevin Martin will just go out and represent Alberta again next year. If so, next year’s fans in London, ON will be asking: where’s Koe? So having something like a Tour winner, a Team Canada, a CTRS points winner, and then a playoff against bottom-ranked provinces is starting to look like a pretty good solution.

There, we’ve covered it all. Amazing win, historic moments, Alberta rocks, Brier format change... what didn’t we talk about? Ah yes. Glenn Howard’s Team Ontario and their absolutely heartbreaking year. I thought Shannon Kleibrink would like to have her year back, but this... yeesh. Nah, I don’t want to think about it. Still too stoked.

This is why I love the Brier.

[Ed note: curling fans from around the world can watch highlights and/or the entire game on the TSN.ca Video-On-Demand service, located here – select VOD: Final: ON vs. AB to view the game]