Behind The Hack BY LARRY WOOD
HAPPENED LAST Easter Sunday. It should have long since faded from memory, right? Uh, wrong. Not this particular Easter-Sunday happening. Not this one particular Easter-Sunday curling shot. Or maybe that should be one particular non-shot. It hasn’t been forgotten and, it seems, won’t be forgotten any time soon. Since last Easter Sunday, you understand, any mention of curling has prompted the same questions, repetitive to the point of monotony. What was Kevin Martin doing in that last end? Why did he throw that rock away? How did he explain that first rock of the 10th end? And so on and so forth, ad nauseam. Some people would have you believe that Martin didn’t just toss aside his first rock of the last end of the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship gold-medal match in Moncton, New Brunswick, last Easter Sunday. Some people would have you believe that Martin tossed away the world title, the gold medal, the whole shebang! Which, of course, is an unbelievable premise, not to mention a ridiculous one, since you’re talking about a four-time Brier champion and the only skip who has twice represented his country at the Olympic Winter Games. Well, it would seem so…. But there’s no denying something just as unbelievable and seemingly ridiculous did actually transpire. In the event you were in hibernation or on vacation on Mars and missed the endless TV replays and haven’t seen the clip on YouTube, the situation was this: Martin’s Team Canada, which had already lost tight-fit round-robin and Page 1-2 playoff debates to David Murdoch’s gang from the auld sod, was tied playing the final end of the final match and in possession of the final stone. With three rocks remaining to be played, two by Martin, Canada was counting one on the corner of the button, buried. Scotland’s obvious and only real last-rock choice was going to be an angle double-bump of some description, to attain a shot position it hadn’t enjoyed at any time during the 10th end. Martin and mates discussed the options, and discussed them, and discussed them — guard, draw around with the other turn, a peel-weight double-kill to open up the situation, a raise of his own No. 5 counter in the eight-foot — for at least seven minutes. “No matter what we did, I couldn’t see us improving our position,” Martin explained later. 16 www.seasonofchampions.ca
At the time, the on-ice dialogue went something like this: Martin: I don’t like the guard. I’m thinking of throwing it away. Lead Ben Hebert: I don’t like that. I don’t like throwing it away. I don’t like drawing the back of the four-foot either. Martin: I don’t like blasting. If we jam it here and he noses, we lose. Don’t you think things are looking good for us right now? Can you think of something we can do that doesn’t help him? Second Marc Kennedy: I can’t. Hebert: You’re serious? In the end, Martin tossed the stone into the boards. “He’s either going to be a genius or the biggest fool,” Murdoch opined to Team Canada third John Morris before the delivery. (And that — genius or fool? — is still up for argument. But I digress.) Murdoch then executed the obvious double-bump to count one, leaving Martin with a fairly tight out-turn peel-weight runback double-kill to win. “I don’t like this,” Hebert was heard to say as Martin squatted in the hack. And then Martin threw narrow and missed it by a couple of inches. He said he wanted “just off the nose” on the hit. He got less than a half rock. “I really didn’t think they had us in much trouble,” Martin allowed afterward. “I wanted to make sure I had a shot to win and I thought that, throwing it away, we would have a shot to win. And we did. I was just a hair tight. It just had to curl a little less. We moved the shot rock, we just had to move it another couple of feet.” So much for Martin’s explanation. His long-time Edmonton arch rival, Randy Ferbey, watching the debacle on TV, was flabbergasted. “We’d never, ever have thrown that rock away,” Ferbey told Sun Media columnist Terry Jones. “Kevin is known as the best hitter in the game. Why not throw a high hard one? The other three guys on the team didn’t want him to throw that rock away. In 100 years of curling, in the millions of ends of curling, no one has ever thrown one away in the 10th end like that. “The bottom line is that he over-analyzed it. But the one thing that nobody is talking about, where he really gave the game away, is when he didn’t start peeling those guards with Marc Kennedy’s first shot of the 10th end. In the 50 games we’ve played against each other over the years, Kevin never left guards like that up there. I know if the roles were reversed and I did that, he’d be saying the same thing about me.” Scottish lead Euan Byers stationed two guards on the centre
Extra End Magazine - The Official Publication of the Canadian Curling Association's Season of Champions.