CBC Sports

A game of chance

Posted: Monday, January 26, 2009 | 10:51 AM

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It’s a simple story and it involves the most basic of life’s endeavours.

At the Grand Slam of Curling and the Canadian Open, Ron Trottier of Osoyoos, B.C., had a chance - a big chance. To the delight of all those who watched, he made good.

Here’s the background.

A solitary stone

Trottier is the 64-year-old custodian at the International Curling Club in his hometown and he entered something called The Capitol One Million Dollar Draw to the Button. His name was selected to compete in a random draw from thousands of others who also aspired to come to Winnipeg and throw a cold draw to cover the pin from a point about 40 metres away.

No broom to aim at, no sweepers allowed - he would be all on his own. Ron would be required to deliver a solitary stone on the long highway of life, with only a little hope and hefty measure of faith to get it to its final destination.

Trottier had come through a few things in order to get to this rendezvous with fate. Not the least of which is the fact that he is a cancer survivor who found out that his name had been selected on the seventh anniversary of being free from the disease.

Born in Kapuskasing, a Franco-Ontarian, he had come to British Columbia 20 years ago and delighted in his work at the curling club. Ron throws rocks there most days during the roaring game’s season.

But to get this chance he had to get past four others. They were all amateurs on the big, arena ice under the hot lights of television with an expectant and substantial crowd focused on their every move.

Ron got by that first test with flying colours. He was last to go and threw his rock to a piece of the four-foot ring just 10 and a quarter inches from the pinpoint of the house. There was new life and the opportunity to experience a dream.

The fortune cookie says

I spoke to him just before he stepped up for his million-dollar moment and discovered that he and his wife Louise had dined out on Chinese food the night before the big day. There was a fortune cookie and a simple message. “You will be given a chance,” it said. “And you will win.”

“Ironic isn’t it?” Ron chuckled, just minutes before he took to the ice. Indeed it was, and I noticed that his hands were trembling.

Then he marched out to the spot and stood beside the two best skips on the face of the earth. They gave him their best advice and Louise told a national TV audience that everyone in Osoyoos would be pulling for him, not to mention all his family and friends back in northern Ontario.

I guess Ron felt that we were all cheering for him too because he strengthened his resolve, quieted his nerves, and calmly released his rock.

From the instant it left his grip everyone knew that there was a possibility it would find the mark. “It’s looking good!” the one skip exclaimed. “Sit down!” the other one yelled. They went running after Ron’s rock and so did he.

The audience rose in unison and Ron Trottier took them along for the ride. They were all right with him to the very end. They prayed for the stone to put on the brakes. It had navigated the right path, and slid just over the target. It came to rest in the eight-foot ring, shy of the big jackpot, but good enough to receive $10,000 as consolation.

A standing ovation ensued and for a brief instant this regular guy had his glorious time in the sun.

He revelled in it. And I’m thinking so did we all.

Ron Trottier came to embody what’s beautiful and increasingly elusive in sport - there is magic in the moment.

It all boils down to this. You never can tell what will happen if you’re willing to play a game of chance.

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