Martin hot under collar

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Kevin Martin is laughing, not quite what you'd expect from a guy who, one day earlier, was eliminated from his provincial playdowns.

Not that the Edmonton skip has suddenly developed an affinity for losing. In fact, missing out on a shot at the Alberta championship this year means he won't be playing in his hometown Brier, which is a bit of a bummer.

But Martin has bigger fish to fry going into the Grand Slam's $100,000 Canadian Open, which runs tomorrow through Sunday at our new arena.

"It's been a fantastic year," Martin said yesterday, while minding his store, Kevin's Rocks 'n Racquets, in Edmonton. "You can't win 'em all. We've had a heckuva run this year. We're just shy of a couple hundred thousand in winnings and we're close to getting our Olympic trials spot. That's more important than anything to me this year."

The five-time Alberta champ and two-time Brier winner is actually in great shape to claim one of the three trials spots still up for grabs.

Even a decent finish down the stretch will give Martin enough ranking points to have a shot at his second Olympic medal (he won a silver medal in 2002).

But that doesn't mean he's happy with the way the trials berths have been handed out.

On the contrary, he's downright ornery about it, making it clear the animosity created during the Great Curling Feud of 2002-03, when the Slammers boycotted the Brier, hasn't quite dissipated.

Martin's beef is still that the first bunch of trials spots weren't available to Slam teams, meaning next fall's trials won't necessarily have the best 10.

"The Olympic trials qualifying has been botched horribly this year, no question," he said. "The trials were set up, no doubt, to try and get back at the Slammers a little bit. But unfortunately it's taken away from the event, too. And that's too bad."

We shudder to think what kind of mood Martin would be in if he weren't sitting so pretty for a trials berth.

But then, Martin has never gone out of his way to make nicey-nice -- not with the CCA nor with some of his fellow curlers.

Well, OK, with one of them, anyway.

We're happy to report the ongoing feud between Martin and fellow Albertan Randy Ferbey is as alive and well as the debate over same-sex marriage.

Ask Ferbey about it, and you'll get a few moments of stony silence.

"The relationship between the teams is OK," he finally said. "The relationship (with) Kevin is not real flattering."

Martin strikes a similar pose.

"With Randy, zero," he said. "But the other three fellows I get along good with."

The seeds of this spat were sewn way back in the early 1990s, according to Martin.

"We played together for a month one time," he said. "I guess that's the way it works sometimes. Personalities just don't get along."

The thing really took root when Martin questioned the validity of Ferbey's three straight Brier wins, and if you think Martin has mellowed on that front, think again.

"It's no different than a hockey season if Detroit and Colorado aren't part of it, and you win the Cup -- what does it mean?" Martin said. "I think people can figure that out. It doesn't mean as much as when all the top teams are in it."

Over to you, Randy.

"You know what? I sleep well at night," Ferbey said. "I don't need Kevin's consensus or his OK ... for me to know we have been a very good team over the years."

Too bad these two don't square off more on the ice.

"There's this rivalry of a game that hardly ever happens," Martin said. "It's kind of funny."

Maybe this weekend, in a playoff game, with some serious money at stake.

Now that would probably mean something.


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