No summer off for Brier champs

JOE PAVIA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

After three years together, Kevin Martin's rink is perhaps the best curling ensemble ever, with Ottawa's John Morris an integral weapon in the Brier champs' arsenal.

But how do they keep improving?

"A lot of teams take the summer off," observed Morris, the rink's third. "(But) the summer for us is our dry-land training time, where we do a lot of fitness and physical training in the gym.

"That helps as far as getting our fitness to a level where it's a step above most other teams. For an event like the Brier, I felt as fresh from Day 1 as I did on Day 8 or Day 9."

Morris said this summer is even more important, leading up to the 2010 Olympic trials in December.

"This is a big summer for us. We are going to train really hard. We were a bit complacent last summer and didn't start well. (But) we trained a lot harder leading up to the provincials.

"In the summer, we will train six days a week, four hours a day. Our goal is to get back (to the Olympics)."

The four players -- including second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert -- live in three cities, but all follow the same fitness regime.

Their love of the sport is also a big factor in keeping them at the top.

"We got a passion for curling. No matter if we are playing for a toaster at the Gordie Perry Bonspiel (at the Ottawa Curling Club) or a $40,000 prize, our competitive juices are always flowing," said Morris. "We want to win."

Ice conditions don't seem to stop this team, although Morris had nothing but compliments for the Brier ice in Calgary.

"This (was) the best ice we have ever played on," said Morris. "Everyone was making excuse for picks in the past.

"The icemakers have to own up to the fact that for the most part Mark Shurek and Jamie Bourassa (novice Brier icemakers) made the ice this (past) week and we didn't have one pick. We threw the same way, swept the same way and didn't do anything different."

Last season's Brier win earned the Martin rink $144,000 tax-free from Sports Canada to aid two years of training. The funding now gets extended another year -- to the chagrin of their opponents at the world championship in Moncton in April.

OCA results

Local rinks skipped by Paul Madden and Dave Collyer finished 4-3 at the intermediate provincials, while Cheryl McBain and Deb Karbashewski were 3-4.

HOUSE CLEANING

The Rachel Homan rink will play in April's Grey Power Players' Championship in Grande Prairie, Alta. A good finish could get them into the Olympic pre-trials ... The Canada Cup begins today in Yorkton, Sask. The $150,000 tournament is a vital launching pad for teams like Marie-France Larouche hoping to qualify for the Olympic trials. TSN will broadcast the women's and men's semi-finals Saturday at 5 and 9:30 p.m., while the finals will air Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. ... Which commercial are you most sick of? I want to see the wrestling kid get taken down!

CURLING THIS WEEK

The national senior championship begins Saturday in Summerside, P.E.I. Ontario is represented by two Ottawa rinks -- Bruce Delaney with Rick Bachand, Duncan Jamieson and George Mitchell; and Cheryl McBain with Joyce Potter, Janelle Sadler and Diana Favel. Both Ottawa rinks will face P.E.I. in their openers ... The Colts and Trophy provincials start in Toronto today. Representing this area are Shane Latimer, Allison Farrell, Jamie Temple and Dan Cook.

JOEPAVIA@ROGERS.COM


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