'Really a disgrace': Alberta curling legend calls out boozers booted from bonspiel
Drunken players booted from an Alberta bonspiel over the weekend should have taken time for sober second thought, says Wally Ursuliak.
Ursuliak, an Alberta curling legend, says the sport is no drinkers' game.
"Curling and the booze doesn't really go together, if you're a competitor," Ursuliak said in an interview Tuesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
'Really a disgrace'
A Brier champion and internationally renowned coach, Ursuliak said he has a bone to pick with Jamie Koe and his team.
Koe, Chris Schille, DJ Kidby and Olympic champion Ryan Fry were ejected from an Alberta bonspiel over the weekend for what organizers called unsportsmanlike behaviour resulting from excessive drinking.
They were tossed from the Red Deer Curling Classic on Saturday night, making headlines around the world for drunken antics on and off the ice.
"If you're competitive, there's no way that you can drink and curl," Ursuliak said.
There is a pervasive myth, Ursuliak said, that curling and drinking go hand in hand. But that's never been true for serious competitors.
Players may enjoy a drink or two after the game, and rural rinks often rely on their bars to keep fees low.
But you'd be hard pressed to find a professional athlete imbibing before a match.
"I don't know what the hell these guys were thinking," Ursuliak said.
"They were playing in a pretty prestigious field with $35,000 up for grabs there, and you know teams from all over the world were there.
"At the end, that's really a disgrace."
Fry, who won Olympic gold at the 2014 Winter Games, normally plays third for the Brad Jacobs team. He was filling in as a substitute on the Koe team that included Chris Schille and DJ Kidby.
Koe, who has represented the Northwest Territories at several national championships, tried a practice slide before Saturday's game but it did not go well and he decided to sit out.
"He was too drunk to play," Red Deer Curling Centre manager Wade Thurber said from Red Deer. "They played three-handed."
Thurber said Kidby and Schille did their best to get Fry to focus on the game, but were unsuccessful.
"On the ice, he broke three brooms," Thurber said. "There was, of course, foul language and a little bit of disruption with the sheets beside them.
"There was some damage in the locker room and some broom bags kicked around. It was just conduct that was unacceptable.
"This is the first time we've had to kick someone out. It's hopefully just one isolated incident, and hopefully everybody learns going forward from it."
Koe and Fry have publicly apologized.
But Ursuliak remains unimpressed.
The team's drunken antics do little for the reputation of the sport, he said.
"I don't know. Somebody should have told them, 'Just default the game, don't go on the ice at all.' Why would they even attempt to go and play?
"I guess Koe had enough brains to say no, I can't play. But the other ones seem to be a little loose, as far as I'm concerned."