By George Karrys
I first heard of a proposed Netflix documentary series almost two years ago. The unnamed series would explore the stories of individual athletes or teams that suffered a massive loss and had to regroup, and find a way to get back to The Big Game and eventually triumph.
One of the show episodes would involve curling.
The idea of a series that turns the lens onto the losers of The Big Game, not the winners, and tells their tale of pain and eventual redemption, is quite intriguing. This appeared to be an on-again off-again concept, however, and the curling world has already been disappointed with high-end documentaries that never made it to air (see our upcoming March issue for one such example).
Lo and behold, the series does exist. LOSERS will debut on Netflix’s 26 worldwide platforms on March 1, the day of the Brier’s qualifying Wild Card match between Ontario’s John Epping and Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher.
The series features eight episodes covering eight different sports, and one of them spotlights one of curling’s greatest stories: the 1985 Labatt Brier final in Moncton between Alberta’s Pat Ryan (image above) and Northern Ontario’s Al Hackner.
The initial story of the curling episode “Stone Cold” drills into the game itself, which saw the previously undefeated Ryan squad drop a miracle deuce in the last end – on the infamous “Hackner Double” – and lose the championship on a steal in the extra-end.
(Of course, that epic match was so much, much more than that. We break it down further in our upcoming March issue.)
The documentary then zeroes in on what Ryan did next… he recruited a new third (a youthful Randy Ferbey), embraced a hitting game (creating the legend of “Ryan’s Express”), won back-to-back Brier titles in 1988 and 1989 (plus the ’89 worlds) and arguably caused the biggest rule change in curling history – the Free Guard Zone.
It’s all in the upcoming March issue of The Curling News, arriving in mailboxes next week and digitally (to subscribers) in expanded and enhanced form, with tons of stuff to click on. You won’t want to miss our description of this project’s history, our interviews with the principals, how this episode’s origins trace back to The Curling News’ network of writers and columnists (!)… and our explanation of why all of this matters 34 years later.
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