Did Korabs comment lead to cut?

Robin Short
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Lets face it, nobody really believes the chemistry that was supposedly thrown out of whack these past few months is the real reason Jamie Korab now has his red shoes stuffed away in the closet for whats left of 2006-07 curling season.

Not even Korab, the ousted lead from the reigning Olympic gold medal curling champions.

Korab was blindsided Wednesday night during a meeting at coach Glenn Gosss house when he was turfed from Brad Gushues team.

Jamie, theres no easy way to say this, but ...

The move closes out a curling relationship dating back some 10-plus years between Korab, Gushue and Mark Nichols, a run which included a world junior championship in 2001.

The reaction to Thursdays Telegram exclusive has been swift and Surprise! Surprise! predictable.

It was ostensibly a team decision a fact supported by Goss and Nichols and second Chris Schille yet Gushue has been unfairly vilified the past 48 hours.

Then again, its always been Brads team, hasnt it?

Korab had been the smiling face to Team Gushue, the antithesis to the cerebral Gushue and serene Nichols, the curler quick with a quip and amusing quote.

He was, it seemed, a perfect fit to the team. Gushue had admitted as much.

Until this week.

Of course, lets consider curling teams do this all the time. Kevin Martin gutted his team last year. Jeff Stoughton also made changes.

It comes with the territory. Difference here is change was made before the ice was scraped off to close out the year.

Try as they might to put a the chemistry spin on things, it doesnt add up. Theres no doubt the curlers may have been grating on each others nerves. That will happen when you spend weeks on end on the road.

But to pull the trigger with less than a week before the Players Championship, the final Grand Slam event of the year that offers a spot in the 2009 Olympic Trials? When youve come within a win of the Brier, and reached the semis and quarter-finals at the Canada Cup and The National, another Slam event?

When youve cleared the hump Nicholss gimpy leg presented most of the season?

No, Korab doesnt buy it either.

Hes out, he told me Thursday morning, because he dared to challenge Gushue.

Last month in Kamloops, at the Canada Cup, the beginning of the end transpired when Korab and Gushue verbally jousted. It started when one of Korabs stones picked curling vernacular to describe the rock catching something on the ice and veering off course and the curlers let up sweeping the rock. Gushue, Korab says, quit calling for the sweepers.

Following the end, Gushue reportedly told his team not to give up. Korab reminded his skip not to give up, either.

The two bantered back and forth with Korab calling Gushue a hypocrite.

All Im saying, Korab apparently told his skip, is youre telling us not to quit. Im telling you not to quit.

Korab said Gushue then said something he wont say what it was snarky.

I said, Brad, come here. Lets talk about this. I said, in an assertive way if you want to call it that, You say stuff like that to us all the time and its the first time Ive ever said anything to you about it.

For the next couple of days, the two didnt speak. Korab was waiting for an apology.

But no, I was in the wrong for this because I had made a personal attack on him, which wasnt the case, Korab said.

By the end of the Canada Cup, the two were exchanging pleasantries. When they arrived in Port Hawkesbury, everything was just peachey (no, not B.C. skip Jay), or so Korab thought.

But speaking from Edmonton at the world mens championship, Schille confirmed what Gushue had earlier revealed: Korabs future with the team had been discussed even before the Brier.

Thats a tough one for Korab to swallow.

The chemistry thing kind of bothers me, he said. The chemistry was fine at the start of the year until Mark left (with a stress fracture) because we were playing well. While Mark was gone, the chemistry obviously changed. Chris is still relatively a new player and we had a new player of the week (five different curlers filled in for Nichols at various times) so the chemistry obviously changed.

No difference

When Mark was gone, things were different. When Mark came back, we qualified (for playoffs) for every event. They said the chemistry wasnt there. I didnt see any difference with the exception of that incident in B.C., and they didnt disagree with me last night (at the fateful meeting). I didnt see any difference in chemistry.

The difference is it was the first time in a couple of years somebody said something to Brad, and the result is this.

Nothing remains constant in sport. Amateur and pro teams have turnover each year and curling whichever category that falls under these days is no different. Familiarity, in a lot of cases, can really breed contempt.

The Gushue team had been together long before the Torino Olympics. Still, one would have to think it could have remained intact longer than the 13 and a half months since the gold medal.

Its too bad theres no better ending to this story. First Mike Adam. Now Korab. (Russ Howard was never in the plans anyway, too busy planning a trip to the Brier with his son and figuring out ways to cash in on Olympic fame).

It will be even more regrettable if Gushue, Nichols, Schille and whoever it is they get to curl lead fail to reach the 2010 Olympics or, even worse, the Trials.

For not only will the road to Vancouver be strewn with shattered dreams, but also streams of bad blood.

Then again, seems the damage has already been done.

Ive got a real sour taste in my mouth with the team, Korab said. I do believe its a decision Brad made and the team went along with it. Thats a very sour taste. Ive been chewing a lot of gum today.

Robin Short is The Telegrams Sports Editor. He can be reached by email rshort@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Canada, Kamloops, Port Hawkesbury Edmonton Vancouver

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