If you take a new rink that just began practising together a week before an event and put it up against some of the top curlers in Canada and the U.S., you shouldn’t expect the best of results.
And there weren’t any this past weekend for the Raymond Roy foursome at the 29th-annual Sun Life Grand Prix at the Port Arthur Curling Club in Thunder Bay.
The Fort Frances rink, which also featured third Scott Gobeil, second Dave Broman, and lead Don Robertson, were ousted from further contention after losing their first three games, including a tough 6-5 loss to Todd Malpass (Sault Ste. Marie) in their final contest.
They opened with a 7-1 loss to Guy Hemmings of Quebec, a Brier runner-up the past two years, and an 8-4 loss to Tim Solin of Wisconsin.
“We played [the Grand Prix] before but this was the first time we played it so early,” said Roy. “We really haven’t played at all, and we just started practising [last] Monday.
“[And] the teams were as strong as any Brier,” he added.
Robertson admitted it was tough playing a bonspiel of this calibre so early in the season.
“Yeah, for us it was,” he said. “It was the first week of our season and other teams were a month in.”
It was no contest against Hemmings, who scored one in the first and then added steals in the second, third, and fourth ends to jump out to a quick 4-0 lead.
After Roy scored one in the fifth, Hemmings put the game out of reach with three in the sixth.
“It wasn’t a big deal to play [Hemmings] because the field was so strong,” Robertson noted. “There were so many former champions, and champions from other countries, everyone was equally tough.”
It was a closer game versus Solin on the ‘B’ side. Tied 3-3 after four, Solin stole a pair in the fifth and another in the sixth to open up a big lead.
Roy replied with one in the seventh but that was as close as they could get.
Then on the ‘C’ side, they were ousted with a loss to Malpass, whose last rock knocked Roy’s out of the house to ice a 6-5 victory.
Kerry Burtnyk (Winnipeg) won this year’s Grand Prix title Sunday with an 8-6 win against fellow Winnipegger Doug Harrison. The former world champ earned $15,000 for his efforts.
In women’s action, Connie Laliberte (Winnipeg), also a former world champ, took home the $11,000 first place after downing Amy Wright of Wisconsin 10-3.
The key blow came in the seventh end. With Laliberte up 5-3 and laying five, Wright missed her final shot and promptly shook hands.