In Part 2 of my conversation with Paul Savage, we'll cover the 1987 Olympic Curling Trials and the controversy surrounding the qualification process. We talk about the early days of the Skins format, the Battle of the Sexes and Paul's experience as fifth man with the Mike Harris Rink during their run to a Silver Medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. There are a few extras after our talk as well. Paul shares stories from the Kurl for Kids Celebrity Bonspiel, Men With Brooms, the World Lefthanders Curling Championship and explains how to perform the plate dance. At the very end is an excerpt from Episode 8 where Warren Hansen discusses his version of the 1987 Trials, which I reference with Paul at the beginning of the show.
Mike Riley had a passion for curling, but it never fully consumed him. Mike reached his greatest success when he found balance in pursuing business and travel along with his curling aspirations. As a high school curler, Mike remembers anticipating Christmas more for the Winnipeg Junior Bonspiel than the presents under the tree. As a young skip, he recalls testing his mettle against the legendary Don Duguid rink in the early 70s, and gaining confidence from the experience. Don's teammates Rod Hunter and Bryan Wood later recruited Mike to play third and were rewarded with a Purple Heart in 1975. After being dropped from the squad, Mike was back to skipping, trying to build his own winning team. In 1983, he found the magic ingredients with lead Russ Wookey, second John Helston and Brian Toews at third. The veteran rink quickly jelled into a Manitoba and Canadian Champion, using a rarely seen strategy of drawing around corner guards without last rock. The Riley Rink stunned fans and media alike by defeating Ed Werenich and his Dream Team in the Labatt Brier finals. A return trip to the Brier in 1986 fell short, and following the 1988 Grand Aggregate Trophy in the 100th MCA (the World's Largest Bonspiel), Mike spent more winters sailing the Caribbean than driving to curling clubs. But in 1995 he was recruited by Jon Mead, Hugh McFadyen and Don Harvey and nearly skipped them to a Provincial victory.
In Part 2 of my conversation with Warren Hansen, we'll dive deep into the Winter Olympics. Warren will share how curling came to be a demonstration sport in 1988 and the efforts involved to secure status as a full medal event in 1998. You might be surprised to hear how it was nearly dropped, because of a Canadian, and may have been saved by a Japanese billionaire. Warren will also address the controversy surrounding the Curling Trials for those Calgary Olympics and the clash with Ed Werenich. He'll return to the 1974 Silver Broom and explain how it shaped his future. Warren shares the challenges of putting a Brier in an NHL arena, creation of the Continental Cup and Mixed Doubles, the "Brier Boycott" era and his thoughts on the modern game.
Next Episode: Ed Lukowich
Errol Klinck, better known as "Colonel", started curling in Regina with his father. His grandfather, Ozzie Barkwell, skipped the team representing Western Canada at the first Brier, held in Toronto in 1927. After moving to Winnipeg, Colonel landed a sparing role, filling in for Bryan Wood and helping the Duguid rink capture the Birks Trophy (Main Event) in the 1971 MCA Bonspiel. Errol would skip his own team to the same title in 1974, winning a berth into the provincial Tankard and the Calcutta at the Assiniboine Memorial. The Klinck rink of 1985 had been together a few years, mostly competing in the A Group mens league at the Assiniboine. After escaping club playdowns, and managing to win a city zone berth, they were heading to the provincial Tankard in Dauphin, seeded last out of 32 teams in the double-knockout event. Surprising everyone (including themselves), they began the Saturday night A-Side final as the only undefeated team, with just two wins remaining to capture four Purple Hearts and a trip to the Brier.
Errol shares memories of that Tankard, grandpa Ozzie, and curling in Regina and Winnipeg. He talks about the Eaton Curling Club, reading ice at the Assiniboine, and reminisces on the teams he battled through the years.
For more stories of Winnipeg curling, check out Sean Grassie's "King of the Rings" and "Curling Capital: Winnipeg and the Roarin' Game, 1876 to 1988" by Morris Mott and John Allardyce.
Next Week: Warren Hansen
Neil Houston is now an Event Manager for Curling Canada. He has been instrumental in bringing the Brier to large NHL arenas and showcasing curling at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Over forty years ago, he teamed with second Glen Jackson, lead Kelly Stearne and skip Paul Gowsell to form perhaps the greatest junior team in history. The Gowsell squad stormed through the Canadian and World Juniors, while combating mens teams on the cashpiel circuit...and winning. To the older crew cut players of that era, the strange pants, long hair and beards were a small annoyance compared to their use of push brooms rather than corn.
Neil shares stories of the Gowsell rink and helps separate legend from fact. He also talks about his time on the Lukowich rink and how "Fast" Eddy went from playing second to skipping them to a Brier, Worlds and Olympic medal. We'll hear about 1997 when the CCA gambled by putting a Brier in the Calgary Saddledome, and contemplate the death of the hair broom in competitive curling.
Video from the 1976 World Junior Championships can be found at The Curling History Blog. You can read about the Gowsell and Lukowich rinks in Jean Sonmor's "Burned by the Rock" and "The Brier" by Bob Weeks.
Next Week: Errol "Colonel" Klinck
Ernie Richardson still lives in Saskatchewan, a province he represented at the Brier 5 times. In 1959, Ernie and his family rink of brother Garnet "Sam" Richardson and cousins Arnold and Wes Richardson won their first Canadian Championship. They were swiftly flown overseas to compete as Team Canada in the first ever World Championship (originally known as the Scotch Cup) against Willie Young of Scotland. The Richardsons repeated as Brier champions in 1960 and '62. Wes departed due to back troubles in 1963, but with Mel Perry as his replacement, they captured a fourth Brier and Scotch Cup. In the 1964 Brier they fell 1 game short in the standings to winner Lyall Dagg from British Columbia.
Ernie shares stories from his early days and the formation of the famous Richardson Rink, to their Brier triumphs and International experiences, including the startled reception to a blank end during the first Scotch Cup . We'll hear about Ernie meeting John Wayne, his battles with Hector Gervais and learn how to succeed in a Calcutta (don't enter).
For more information on Ernie "The King" Richardson, check out "The Stone Age" by Vera Pezer, "The Brier" by Bob Weeks, and "Tales of a Curling Hack" by Doug Maxwell. There are also a number of older books Ernie helped author, including "Curling, an Authoritative Handbook of Techniques & Strategy of the Ancient Game" with Joyce McKee and Doug Maxwell and "Curling: Techniques and Strategy" with Mark Mulvoy.
Pat Ryan grew up curling in Winnipeg, where he perfected his tuck slide delivery, but found his greatest success in Alberta. Following his heartbreaking loss to Al Hackner in the 1985 Brier, Pat would go on to build a team with Randy Ferbey, Don Walchuk and Don McKenzie. The "Ryan Express" won back-to-back Briers in 1988 and '89 with advanced hitting abilities that transformed the game and helped lead to the adoption of the free guard zone in the 1990s.
After moving to British Columbia, Pat joined forces as third for Rick Folk. Along with Bert Gretzinger and Gerry Richard, they would reach back-to-back Brier finals, winning in 1994 over Ontario's Russ Howard. The 1994 Brier included a little known controversy with rock choices heading into the playoffs. Pat will share his version of that experience in Red Deer along with his thoughts on sweeping controversies going back to 1970s.
For more information on Curling Legend Pat Ryan, locate a copy of Jean Sonmor's "Burned by the Rock" or "The Brier" by Bob Weeks. The famous 1985 Brier final can be found in its entirety on YouTube. You can also find several of Pat's musical performances on Youtube as well.
Next week: Terry Braunstein