World Curling Tour: Fry fined, Koe 'too drunk to play'
World Curling Tour organizers fined Ryan Fry $1,000 on Wednesday following a review of Team Jamie Koe's expulsion from an event in Red Deer.
Koe, Fry, Chris Schille, and DJ Kidby were ejected from the weekend's Red Deer Curling Classic following complaints about drunkenness and damage to equipment and property.
Koe subsequently told Cabin Radio he had not been involved but, in apologizing, said one member of the team – Fry – "got out of control."
The World Curling Tour, in its Wednesday statement, made clear Fry's behaviour had earned the team's dismissal and issued a fine which will be redirected to support Red Deer Junior Curling.
However, the World Curling Tour also clarified the reason why Koe was not involved: he was, the statement read, "intoxicated to a degree where he was unable to play one of the games."
Video footage from the event, since circulated around the world in a story covered by dozens of major news organizations, appears to show Koe on his hands and knees on the ice prior to the game.
Koe himself has admitted he sat out of the game because he was too drunk to take part. Tour officials exonerated Schille and Kidby, saying the two had tried to "keep the situation under control" without their skip in a responsible capacity.
The World Curling Tour is contested by the world's best curlers, and the Red Deer event had a $35,000 purse.
While curling has a close association with alcohol – and is considered by many fans a "social sport" – it is unclear how frequently World Tour competitors have been too drunk, mid-tournament, to participate.
Wednesday's statement confirmed Fry had broken brooms and shown 'inappropriate' behaviour in the clubhouse.
Sochi Olympic champion Fry, in a statement of his own published by the World Curling Tour on his behalf, said he would take a step back from curling and his usual rink, Team Brad Jacobs.
"I am committed to taking every step possible to ensure that this never happens again, and to make amends to those that I have negatively impacted," read Fry's message.
"I will be making a donation to the Red Deer Curling Centre's junior curling program as one of those steps. In addition, I will be giving back to my community with the hope that my story will help anyone dealing with similar issues.
"Due to recent events, I have decided to take a leave from Team Jacobs. As hard as this is, I will need to focus my full energy on my growth and self-improvement. I wish the team nothing but success while they compete in my absence. There is no confirmed time for my return, but I am extremely committed to doing everything possible to rebound."
Responding to Koe's tweeted apology earlier in the week, fans appeared to blend disappointment and forgiveness.
"At least you excused yourself from the game," a user named Robyn wrote. "It’s just unfortunate you didn’t just default and pull the whole team. The stereotype of curling and booze just got refuelled."
Another user said Koe and his rink had been "great with my son Jackson, pre-game Saturday afternoon, when I brought him to watch you."
Red Deer return
At the tournament itself, Kerry Galusha's NWT team narrowly missed the women's play-offs with a record of four wins and three defeats.
Koe's rink posted one win and three defeats in its shortened appearance.
Team Northwest Territories' men at this week's Travelers Championship – for teams who win their local club championship – are skipped by Shadrach McLeod, alongside Steve Robertson, Devon Bouillon, and Rob Koehler.
The NWT's women are skipped by Sarah Stroeder with Alanah Jansen, Marie-Claude Savoie, and Anneli Jokela.
Red Deer will again be a focus for the Northwest Territories in February, when the territory's junior curlers compete at the Canada Games – held at the same venue.
Consumption of alcohol by an athlete at any time during the Games, or appearing under the influence of alcohol as an adult while participating in any capacity, are major infractions under Team NT's code of conduct.