Skip Jim Cotter oversees the sweeping of Kevin Folk (left) and Rick Sawatsky at the Tim Hortons Brier in London, Ont.

Skip Jim Cotter oversees the sweeping of Kevin Folk (left) and Rick Sawatsky at the Tim Hortons Brier in London, Ont.

Cotter stuck in limbo

LONDON – Vernon’s Jim Cotter arrived at the Tim Hortons Brier full of confidence, feeling that his B.C. rink could get on a roll and make a run into the playoffs.

But it turned out the only momentum they could generate was on the negative side.

The low point was when they fell to 1-5 mid-way through the week – sitting in a tie for last place and eliminated from contention with two full days left in the 12-rink competition.

“I don’t know what to say anymore,” said the frustrated 36-year-old skip, shortly after the team’s fifth loss. “It seems like we’re throwing them well but just not getting the results we were hoping to get. That’s curling.”

After going 1-3 against the “Big Four” of Manitoba, Newfoundland, Ontario and Alberta – which have collectively dominated the tournament – Cotter’s squad lost to Northern Ontario late Monday and fell to Saskatchewan Tuesday afternoon to drop to 1-5.

They turned things around Tuesday night with a win over New Brunswick, and followed that with an 8-7 victory over Quebec’s Francois Gagne Wednesday morning. But they were upset 6-5 by Kevin Koe of the Yukon-Northwest Territories later that day, confirming a sub-.500 record for the week.

The rink – which also includes third Ken Maskiewich, second Kevin Folk and lead Rick Sawatsky – rebounded well to that disappointment Thursday morning, crushing Eddie MacKenzie of P.E.I. 7-1 in seven ends.

By winning their final game against Nova Scotia’s Shawn Adams Thursday night, the Cotter foursome, which represents both the Vernon and Kelowna curling clubs, could close the event by winning four of their last five games to finish 5-6 and end up in the middle of the pack.

Sawatsky, who grew up in Vernon before moving to Kelowna in 2000, said it was tough to pinpoint exactly what went wrong during the early part of the week.

“We seemed to give away a lot of points and really struggle to score our deuces in multiple ends,” said the 35-year-old utilities technician. “It just seems we had a really hard time capitalizing on our opportunities. In the provincials, we were just so solid in Vernon.

“It’s just one of those things. You come here and you can have a really good week or a really bad week and we just unfortunately are having a bad week. That’s the way the sport goes. There are a lot of really talented teams here, and come out here, shine and do no wrong and we just seem to be on the opposite side of that coin.”

He added that the schedule was tough but should not be used as an excuse.

“Obviously, we had a really tough start with the four big dogs right off the start, so we knew going into that if we could come out of it 2-2 we’d look really good.

“We just didn’t execute the shots and weren’t sharp, and if you play like that against those guys they’re going to make you pay all day long. But we’d rather play them at the beginning of the week than at the end of the week when they’re rolling.”

The Brier champion advances to the Ford World Championships, April 2-10, in Regina, and receives berths into the 2011 Canada Cup in Cranbrook, and the 2012 World Financial Group Continental Cup in Langley.

The winner gets $144,000 in Sport Canada funding over a two-year period, $40,000 for TV cresting exposure and $40,000 from Own The Podium for training and competition expenses.

The losing finalist also will receive $40,000 for TV cresting exposure, the third-place team earns $30,000, the fourth-place team pockets $20,000 and finishers fifth through 12th pocket $7,000.

Vernon Morning Star