Rexall Place — Dan Holowaychuk has the best seat in the house at the Roar of the Rings as the super sub for the legendary Ferbey Four.
The St. Albert resident is back as the fifth man with the former four-time Brier champions and three-time world gold medallists as they strive to win the right to represent Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“They asked me to come back towards the end of last year and things clicked again,” Holowaychuk told the Gazette Monday. “We’ve had a good history. Maybe I’m a little bit of a good luck charm for them.”
Holowaychuk, 47, was picked up by skip Randy Ferbey for the 2001 Brier after his rink won the first of five straight provincial championships.
“I remember when Randy asked me if I wanted to go the Brier. I was like, ‘Yep. I’m going.’ I didn’t ask work. I didn’t ask my wife. That’s what everybody wants to do as a curler, right? If that’s how I was going there the first time, that was fine. I just wanted to go and see what it was all about,” said the business development manager for Catelli Foods. “Winning [the 2001 Brier] was obviously another highlight but I will always remember that moment when they asked me. I was so honoured.
“After that it just kind of kept going for a few years so it was a good thing for a long time. It’s fun being around them and being around all the competitive curlers. I’ve seen them all on TV and I’ve tried to get there myself but it just never really worked out so this is the next best thing.”
Holowaychuk resurfaced with the Ferbey Four at the 2009 provincials in Wainwright.
“I kind of stepped away from it for a little bit and at that time they weren’t so much in the limelight but this year I’ve been their fulltime fifth, starting right from the get-go when the season started in July. I’ve travelled with the team to all the events this year and I take care of a lot of little details in behind the scenes mostly,” said the alternate for the Ferbey Four at the last two Olympic trials. “This year it was all about preparing for the Olympic trials and the team tried to pick a schedule they felt would be most comfortable to get themselves prepared.”
Holowaychuk keeps his game razor sharp by playing in the Edmonton super league Wednesday nights at the Saville Sports Centre with Wade White. When his commitments with the Ferbey Four overlap with the White rink, a sub fills his spot at second.
“It’s a long year and these guys [Ferbey, owner of The Rink in St. Albert, last-rock thrower David Nedohin, St. Albert Curling Club product Scott Pfeifer at second and lead Marcel Rocque] have still got regular jobs so when we have practices and someone can’t make it, I will fill in,” said the winning skip at the 1989 Tournament of Champions representing the St. Albert Curling Club. “I’ve even played a few games to give Randy’s knees a break when they play three games in a day sometimes, depending on where we’re at in the spiel.”
On the road Holowaychuk helps feed the team though a diet concocted by the team’s nutritionist. His room also serves as a combination meeting/conference/breakfast location.
“I’ll even go get the groceries,” he said. “On the road, two guys will room together and I would have kind of a get-together room, whatever is needed to be done for that weekend.”
Among his many duties at the Roar of the Rings is charting rocks on the various sheets and scouting tendencies in other teams.
“Most of the other bonspiels I don’t do so much of that as what I’m doing here. I try and pick up some things, just by seeing how some guys are doing and give them a bit of a scouting report,” said Holowaychuk, whose sidekick at the Roar of the Rings is Dr. Henry Hwang, the team’s St. Albert-based chiropractor.
“These teams are already put together. For myself with the Ferbey team, I’ve been there all year long with them and I know their tendencies. To stick someone else in there at the very end of it, I don’t know if that is going to be the best thing. Is it going to be a front-end guy you’re going to get? Is it going to be a back-end guy you’re going to get?” he said.
“The Ferbey team knows what they want and what they need. I guarantee there has been some thorough process between all the teams with what’s going on and who they want to pick [as their fifth man] and each team will have a different duty for what they want their fifth to do. Mine is, a lot of times, just to keep the guys light and in stressful situations, break it up. If you put a new person in there in that situation, they might add some fuel to that fire and you might have a downward spiral and who knows where it goes from there.
“You’ve got to room with these guys and you’re on the road with them a lot and that’s where you find out some of these things. When you travel a little bit longer as a fifth with some of the guys, you know what fits and what doesn’t.”