Randy Ferbey hit curling's heights, winning national and world titles with regularity.
His Alberta team of Dave Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque was a powerhouse, winning the national championship in 2001 to kick off a run of four titles in five years.
Ferbey thought about the possibility of getting that lineup back together to take a run at reaching the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier. When those plans didn't materialize, he knew the time was right to retire from competitive curling.
"I'm leaving the sport that I've loved," Ferbey said Tuesday from the Edmonton area. "I've loved competing, I've loved the years that I've competed. It's very, very difficult."
Ferbey, 52, leaves the sport as one of its most dominant competitors. In all, he won six national titles and four world championships.
"The run that the Ferbey team did in the early 2000's was just remarkable," said Ontario skip Glenn Howard. "They basically bulldozed everybody over for five to six years."
The idea of playing for a national title on home ice in Edmonton next year was appealing to Ferbey. He said he had discussed the idea with his good friend Nedohin, who told him earlier this month that he had decided to go with a younger team.
"So that was it right there," Ferbey said. "I wasn't prepared to play with anybody else. I knew if I wasn't going to play with Dave, I wasn't going to play."
Nedohin threw fourth stones for Ferbey. He's in Lethbridge, Alta., with wife Heather while she skips Canada at the women's world championship. Nedohin said it was a tough decision to form a new team without Ferbey.
"Before I made the decision, I talked to Randy about it and he said 'absolutely, you should have done it a couple of years ago,"' Nedohin said. "I had a harder time with it than he probably did.
"He's kind of been my sounding board in terms of getting advice on who I should play with and the team I should form. He's been helpful and really supportive. I'd love to have him as my coach. I still feel like I'm learning from him.
"He's really been the guy I've looked up to as the great skip out there in terms of strategy and changing the game and understanding what to do."
Ferbey won his first Brier in 1988 as a third on skip Pat Ryan's team. The Alberta rink repeated as champs a year later and went on to win the world title.
Ferbey, from Sherwood Park, Alta, won his first world championship as a skip in 2002 and added victories in 2003 and 2005.
"Playing with Dave, Scott and Marcel -- it was unbelievable," Ferbey said. "I've gone on record as saying that I believe that we were the greatest team. Not from accomplishments but from a team perspective, I think we were the greatest team ever to play the game.
"We played together for 12 years and I don't think anybody's been better -- four individuals -- over that period of time."
Ferbey has played on tour this season but did not qualify for the recent Brier in Saskatoon. Alberta's Kevin Koe made it to the final but he dropped a 7-6 decision to Howard.
Ferbey, who owns an ATM company, said he may play in recreational games and the occasional senior event in the future. He's looking forward to devoting more time to his family.
Ferbey couldn't think of one particular moment that stood out as a highlight. He said that all of his teammates deserve credit for his success over his long career.
"I think that's what I built every one of my teams on is the four of us are a unit," Ferbey said. "There's nobody bigger than one another."
-- With files from Donna Spencer in Lethbridge, Alta.