Howard in the running

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:16 AM ET

When the 2006 Winter Olympics begin in Italy, Russ Howard will have just celebrated his 50th birthday. So it's not too surprising that he wonders how he'd fit in with all of the buff athletes at the world's largest gathering of the bold and the beautiful.

"It's kind of scary when you think of it," said Howard, who's in town competing in the Canada Cup East cashspiel. "They'd probably want to kick me out."

Actually, it would make a pretty neat story if Howard led the Canadian men's curling team into the next winter Games.

He took a step in that direction yesterday, beating Jean-Michel Menard of Aylmer in an A-side final to advance to tomorrow's eight-team championship round.

The winner of this week's cashspiel gets a berth at the Olympic trials, to be held next December in Halifax.

Howard is arguably the most accomplished player in the sport's history. He's made a record 13 trips to the Brier, first out of Ontario and currently from his home in New Brunswick. He's won a record 107 games at the Brier, and has captured two national and world titles.

Only thing missing from his resume is an appearance at the Olympics.

"When I sit down in a rocking chair after it's over and think about it, I don't think it will make a difference," he said. ''But as a competitor, it's one more carrot this year."

Shawn Adams of Nova Scotia also qualified for the championship round with a win yesterday over Peter Corner of Oakville.

FROM THE HACK: A great match this morning at the Rideau has Wayne Middaugh taking on Guy Hemmings in a B-side semi-final at 8 a.m. ... Two sheets over, Middaugh's wife Sherry will be up against 2001 world junior champ Suzanne Gaudet in a women's B-side showdown ... Gatineau's Chantal Osborne lost 7-6 in an extra end to Nova Scotia's Heather Smith-Dacey in a women's B-side semi ... London's Jo-Ann Rizzo drew to the button to avoid an extra end during an 8-6 victory over Newfoundland's Cathy Cunningham.


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