Martin savours Oly prep

GEORGE KARRYS, FOR QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- It was supposed to be another titanic battle between Olympian Kevin Martin and his rival Glenn Howard at the MTS Centre on Sunday.

But like the Olympic Trials final in December, Martin's Edmonton foursome staked an early lead on the Ontarians in the final of the BDO Classic Canadian Open and never really looked back.

Martin won 6-4, which surprisingly was his first Capital One Grand Slam title in his past eight efforts. However, it marked his fifth career BDO title in Winnipeg.

"We just have to move this building around with us," the man they call The Old Bear said, jokingly. "It's been great to us, that's for sure.

"It's nice to get (a Slam title), it's been a while," Martin continued. "Everybody is so tough in these events. Once you start to not win 'em, boy, it's tough to get back on that winning track."

Howard has been impressive in recent Slam tourneys, appearing in seven of the past nine championship finals. His squad has captured five titles in that time.

But he acknowledged that the pain of his team's loss to Martin in the final of the Olympic trials still lingers.

"It's one of the most disappointing losses I've personally ever had," Howard said.

"The Olympics is a big thing and you only get a chance every four years. It's going to take time and I'm not over it yet, but what do you do? You get back on the horse and keep playing, and try to make big shots and win games."

"You can't ask for better (Olympic) preparation than this," Martin said. "With the ice being almost perfect and probably a lot like it will be in Vancouver, the timing is perfect."

Martin raised eyebrows before the event in trying to calm Canadians, who watched his squad stomp and scowl their way to a grim 1-4 record at the previous Slam earlier this month at Guelph.

Martin stressed the need to simply play better, but not too great, in an attempt to peak when the Vancouver Olympic Centre roars to life on Feb. 16. They certainly did that.

"They are getting better, which is good to see, and I told Kevin that," said Howard. "They've got some room to improve and I'm sure they will. In the next two weeks they'll be right on their game."

Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert took their $25,000 cheque home to Edmonton and will train there for a week. Then it's off for a week of training in Richmond, B.C., a quick return trip home and then the formal departure for the Games on Feb. 8.

Howard and Co. were consoled with $17,500 in winnings, and begin the defence of their Ontario men's Tankard championship in Napanee on Feb. 1. They will be gunning for their fifth consecutive provincial crown.

Martin third John Morris revealed that the Canadian Olympic curlers -- Calgary's Cheryl Bernard skips the women's team -- will stay in the Olympic Athletes Village for the first week of competition, and then will move onto an entire floor of a secured hotel, with all meals to be prepared by a personal chef.

"I'm going to keep him busy, I'm going to eat a lot," Morris said.

GEORGE KARRYS, AN OLYMPIAN, IS: CURLINGURU.COM


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