By Terry Jones 2017-03-30 13:44:30
Maybe they might have picked 92-year-old Matt Baldwin for the honour to throw the ceremonial first rock of ‘The Last Hurrah’ aka the 2017 men’s worlds in Edmonton. But Baldwin said there would have been two problems with that. “First, I could never get down to be in the hack to throw the damn thing,” said the skip of the Edmonton team that won the 1954 Brier in the old Edmonton Gardens. “Second, if I ever did get down to throw it, I’d never be able to get up,” added the three-time Brier winner who your correspondent has learned will hold the broom for the special ceremony. It would have been tough to decide between Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin, the two most decorated curlers in history for first rock-throwing honours. So they named them the two sweepers. Only problem with that is that if there was one thing Martin and Ferbey were religious about not doing was sweeping. Ferbey and Martin sweeping will indeed be a photo op. They will also be using corn brooms. “I had no idea that we’d be using corn brooms. We might need medical staff close by,” said Ferbey. So with Baldwin, Ferbey and Martin slotted in, who gets the ultimate honour of throwing the opening rock of the final event in the Northlands Coliseum celebrating the winners of all the big events on the property on either side of 118th avenue over the years? It’ll be the man who meant the most to the sport in Canada over that stretch, former Edmonton Huskies three-in-a-row Little Grey Cup star, and 1974 Brier champion curling for Hector Gervais, and present-day fellow columnist for this here tome – Warren Hansen. Hansen took the sport from crayons to perfume in his time heading the Canadian Curling Association as events manager. He was the first paid employee, played significant roles in curling becoming an Olympic sport and major TV property. He was the man who despite being told it would be the biggest flop in the history of Canadian sport took the Brier into NHL buildings and developed it and other properties into the events that have drawn over 1.1 million fans in five visits to the Edmonton Coliseum. Hansen created both the Canada Cup and Continental Cup and invented the mixed doubles version of the sport that makes it’s debut in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. “When Terry Morris called and asked if I wanted to throw the opening stone, my response was ‘Who else will be involved?’ said Hansen. “When he told me I said ‘Are you sure you want me involved? Those are three of the greatest curlers of all time.’ “I’m humbled to be part of it. I feel, to some degree, however, that I’m representing the other one who should be there – the late Hec Gervais. The four of them represented every Brier and world championship win involving men’s teams from Edmonton between 1950 and 2010.”
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