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King plays alternate role to perfection

St. Albert curler wins second Brier with Kevin Koe rink for trip to worlds

By: Jeff Hansen

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 06:00 am

BRIER CHAMPIONS - The Alberta rink of (L-R) skip Kevin Koe, third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen, alternate Jamie King of St. Albert and sports psychologist coach John Dunn pose with Brier Tankard as the 2014 champions and will represent Canada at worlds, March 29 to April 6 in Beijing, China. It's the second Brier victory as an alternate for King, a St. Albert curler with Koe's gold-medal winning rink at the 2010 worlds in Italy.
BRIER CHAMPIONS - The Alberta rink of (L-R) skip Kevin Koe, third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen, alternate Jamie King of St. Albert and sports psychologist coach John Dunn pose with Brier Tankard as the 2014 champions and will represent Canada at worlds, March 29 to April 6 in Beijing, China. It's the second Brier victory as an alternate for King, a St. Albert curler with Koe's gold-medal winning rink at the 2010 worlds in Italy.
CCA/MICHAEL BURNS/Supplied photo

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Playing the role as alternate for the Kevin Koe rink has been an award-winning experience for St. Albert curler Jamie King.

His repeat performance at the Tim Hortons Brier will continue at worlds in China with the 2010 gold medallists.

“It’s a big thrill. Wearing the maple leaf on your back is not something that everyone gets to experience in their life in sports. It’s what we all aspire to do and that is to be world champions,” King said. “It’s an amazing feeling to say that at one point in time you’re the best team in the world and to be able to have another crack at it is just an amazing experience. Quite frankly I wasn’t sure I would ever get that experience again and to do it possibly in China, a place where I’m only going to get to once in my lifetime, it’s pretty exciting.”

Worlds start March 29 in Beijing for Koe, third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen and King.

At the 2010 worlds in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy with Blake MacDonald at third, the Brier champions defeated Torger Nergard of Norway 9-3 in the final for Canada’s 32nd gold medal.

“My duties will probably stay the same as they were in Italy,” said King, who saw action against Denmark and Japan at worlds. “We’ve got Rick Lang, a very famous and experienced curler, who is the national coach and he is going with us. Rick has actually been to the venue in Beijing sort of scouting things out. His role is largely to take care of the team on the off-ice stuff, making sure that we know where to eat and get around the city and if there is any sort of cultural or political things to deal with.

“The boys also have a sports psychologist coach who goes with them, John Dunn, and his role will be the same too.”

At the Brier recently in Kamloops, King worked behind the scenes for the Alberta champions in his same capacity at the 2010 Brier in Halifax when Koe edged Glenn Howard of Ontario 6-5 in an extra end.

“Both years were very similar. My duties didn’t change very much from the first time,” said King, who participated in the fifth-man competition at the Brier with beer, pizza and pride on the line. “I worked with the team at the Olympic trials (in Winnipeg) and then that just carried over into the Brier. I’m there largely to help scout the opposition, chart rocks, provide information on strategy and help the guys with their technical delivery for any tweaks we have to make. I was out there during practices.

“In between our games in the round robin and the playoffs we didn’t have a lot of time so I would go out with Carter and for a good hour plus match rocks and turning rocks and they were the rocks we used in the playoffs so it worked out pretty good.”

In the final at Kamloops, Koe racked up triples in the second, fifth and seventh ends in the decisive 10-5 win over John Morris of British Columbia. It’s Alberta’s 26th Brier, one behind the all-time leader, Manitoba.

The Koe rink – Rycroft was named the playoff MVP and plans to take next year off – earned $45,000, 45 Canadian Team Ranking System points and as Team Canada receive automatic berths at the 2014 Canada Cup in Camrose and next year’s Continental Cup and Brier in Calgary.

“It’s always fun when you win a national championship for sure,” King said. “You never forget your first as they always say. The first time around (in 2010) we were all pretty green so it was like every time every day there was something new. This time it wasn’t quite that same way.

“This experience was a little bit different just from the standpoint that we had Pat Simmons as opposed to Blake MacDonald the first time so all things being equal it was really exciting to see Pat get his first one.”

Old Fish rink

King, 40, the last rocker thrower for the Hootie and the Old Fish rink – reigning President’s Cup playoff champions at the St. Albert Curling Club and winners of the 2013 Edmonton and area Tournament of Champions – is unable to join his teammates at the Dominion Curling Club northern playdowns March 27 to 30 at the Ottewell because of worlds.

The Old Fish have recruited Gary Hoekstra to fill in during King’s absence at the Dominions. Hoekstra’s firefighter’s rink and the Old Fish are longtime foes in the Thursday night league.

In the club playoffs the Old Fish are within striking distance of their 10th President’s Cup in 22 years. If they reach the March 26 final Scott Pfeifer, who is part of the eight-man line-up of grandfathers, provincial-calibre curlers and former world champions, will come out of the bullpen to replace the China-bound King in the big game. Pfeifer and MacDonald, another Old Fish regular, curled with King in the last two Boston Pizza Cup provincials. Pfeifer, a former Brier and world champion with the Ferbey Four, also made an appearance for the Old Fish in the first playoff game with King returning home from the Brier.

Another President’s Cup would send the Old Fish to the 51st annual Tournament of Champions, April 7 to 17 at the Saville Community Sports Centre. Last year’s city championship was the third in team history and the seventh by a St. Albert men’s rink.

King returns from China on the first day of cities and plans on re-joining the Old Fish if they do qualify again.

“The Old Fish are still in pretty good shape without me,” said the TD Commercial Banking sales manager in charge of marketing, business development and client relations.


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