Crisis in Camp KevinNot much going right for former Brier powerhouse and Olympic silver medallist
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
HINTON -- Was there an expiry date on Kevin Martin that we missed while he was away boycotting the Brier?
After three years as the spiritual leader and spokesperson for the Grand Slam group of curlers who refused to credit accomplishments in their absence, Martin has had nobody to badmouth but himself here so far in his return to playdowns curling.
"Kevin makes that shot 95 of 100 times," said third Don Walchuk of a 10th-end last-rock miss which left the rink in a mess at the Alberta Curling Championships.
Two years ago Martin missed a last-rock shot which cost him the gold medal at the Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. Here yesterday morning he missed an even easier shot, which may have cost him a chance to get back to the Brier which Randy Ferbey has owned in his absence.
The way Martin has been gassing games, you have to wonder if he and his rink have gone stale in the interim.
It's not just one shot. He was out-curled 95% to 84% by Sexsmith's Kurt Balderston in the game.
The day before in the first game of the event, Martin came up seriously short on another simple shot in the third end and another on the seventh which resulted in a four-ender, a 7-2 loss and a round of handshakes with Ferbey.
The curling community gathered here is beginning to wonder if Martin and mates are past their prime.
Today may go a long way to answering that question.
It's Friday the 13th. And for Martin, it's very scary.
While Martin came back to beat Trenton McQuarrie of Lethbridge 8-6 in the nightcap to leave him at 2-2 in the eight-rink round robin, Martin's two wins are against rinks with a combined record of 1-7.
Ferbey and Sexsmith's Kurt Balderston lead the way into today with 4-0 records.
Tied with Martin at 2-2 is Calgary's John Morris and Red Deer's Rob Armitage. Second plays third in tomorrow's semifinal, with the winner meeting the first-place team from the round-robin in Sunday's final. Essentially, Martin is left with two other rinks fighting for third.
Martin plays Morris this morning, with Martin going against Brent MacDonald of Lac La Biche and Morris playing Ferbey in the evening. Armitage has 0-4 Gene Hammon and 1-3 Trenton MacQuarrie.
BUMBLED THROUGH PLAYDOWNS
The two-time Brier champion and Olympic silver medallist hasn't simply stumbled here, his rink has bumbled through the playdowns this year.
Martin's loss yesterday was his seventh. Ferbey has lost seven games total on the playdown trail in the last four years combined and now has a 23-game winning streak and a 25-1 record in the provincial championships over that span.
The body language of Martin and rink and some of the things coming out of their mouths, have to make you wonder if they're the same team they used to be.
Asked what it would look like if the rink didn't even make it to the Saturday semifinal, lead Don Bartlett's reaction was sobering.
"I don't really care," he said.
"I'm tired of fighting.
"I'm just tired of it.
"I have two boys back home who deserve to have more of their dad's time."
Third Don Walchuk said some things are obvious.
"For sure we're not curling the way we did before. That was a pretty disappointing loss. Two losses like this early ... we're probably going to have to go 6-0 to get out of Alberta now."
So far the story with Martin is the shots he hasn't made.
"Whoops!" was his one-word summation of what happened when he came out of his dressing room from a short cooling-down period after the miss which gave Balderston three on the end and an 8-5 win.
"We spent nine ends in total control. And I liked the way I threw it.
"The ice was nice. I thought it was all right all the way to the hog line and then ... oh-oh!"
It was a completely open draw to the four-foot with the option of a straightforward hit-and-stay takeout in the eight-foot.
It was the Olympics all over again.
"The Olympic one was different. The line was tighter. This was wide open.
"We're not firing on all cylinders. It doesn't feel normal to me.
"It's not flowing nicely."
Morris, who had to draw to the four-foot to win his morning game, said he watched Martin's miss moments before.
"I'm surprised Martin went for the draw instead of the hit. The hit was easier.
"But the draw is his bread and butter. Martin makes that nine out of 10 times. But now he's going to have it on his mind."
Thinking about bad things happening to you is not a good thing on Friday the 13th.