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    Monday, February 16, 1998

    No fun in silver lining for Harris

    By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun
      KARUIZAWA -- As Olympic gold slipped through his fingers and turned to silver, Canadian skip Mike Harris turned to his opponent and said: "I thought this would be more fun."
     "I feel sorry for you," said Swiss skip Patrick Huerlimann.
     The words were heartfelt.
     The two have been close friends, said Huerlimann, for almost half their lives.
     They met when Harris, then 18, went to Europe to begin a career teaching golf. He still works in Austria and often stays with Huerlimann for a few days at the start of each season.
     Huerlimann learned to speak English in Canada and often stayed with Harris, a Georgetown native who lives in North York. Harris attended Huerlimann's wedding.
     That they are such close friends probably did not make yesterday's stunning 9-3 collapse of the Canadian team in the gold-medal game easier on either of them.
     "That was not the Mike Harris you see on the ice normally," the new Olympic champion said. "I feel a little sorry for Mike. He didn't feel well. He's my best friend and he didn't look too good. That wasn't Mike Harris."
     His sympathy didn't prevent him from enjoying the win. When the Harris rink shook hands after eight ends, Huerlimann sank to the ice and covered his eyes with his arm.
     He cried, a scene that was touchingly repeated when he received his medal and heard the Swiss anthem.
     It was an emotional conclusion to the turn of events.
     Huerlimann, who curled 78% to Harris' 25%, said his rink went into the final with one thought in mind.
     "We knew the only way to play was aggressive," he said. Huerlimann said he wasn't put off by comments by Canadian lead George Karrys that the 60th-best men's club team in Canada could beat the best Europe has to offer.
     "We know Canada is strong," he said, "but we know their strategy. In key games we have a chance because all the pressure is on them.
     "If we played the Canadians 10 times, maybe we would only beat them two or three times, but in key games, I like our chances."
     In the bronze-medal game, Norway's Eigil Ramsfjell defeated the United States' Tim Somerville 9-4 in nine ends.