A rocky road

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

WAINWRIGHT -- Coming in as defending champion at the Alberta Boston Pizza Cup is one thing.

This year, Kevin Martin has an intimidating array of accomplishments the rest of the field can only envy.

World champion. A spot at the Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton later this year.

A consistent season in which the team has been either No. 1 or No. 2 on the Canadian Teams Ranking System and the World Curling Tour money list.

As if that's not enough, Martin has a chance to win his unprecedented 10th Alberta title and a chance to split the decade series with Randy Ferbey at five wins each.

TOUGH FIELD

In a province that's this tough, that would be quite an accomplishment.

"That's a big number, that's for sure, but you can't worry about that kind of stuff," said Martin. "Just do your best and hopefully, you win that many eventually. That's the way I look at it.

"You're going to lose some, no question and we have over the years."

Martin shakes off the fact he's coming in as a defending world champion for the first time ever. There's not much swagger in the way he's talking, perhaps even a bit of apprehension.

"That's true, but I don't think it makes much of a difference to anybody in this place," said Martin. "(Kevin) Koe, we play him all the time. Ferb (Randy Ferbey), we play them all the time.

"It doesn't matter to any of the other curlers. They just want to knock us out. I don't feel any different coming into this year than any other year."

Martin has scouted out the opposition and he knows just how tough this year's field is.

"It's a real tough province," said Martin. "We have seven of the top 22 in the world here (in Alberta) and that doesn't include James (Pahl) with Donnie B. (Bartlett)."

Martin has put together three solid years with this team and is the No. 1-ranked team over that three-year period.

He's within a whisker of Glenn Howard this season and the teams seemed to have reached a new level in this game that other teams can only dream of.

"It's been a good solid year for consistency, which we thought was very important this year," said Martin. "Not necessarily to win certain things, this week included, but to play well all year going into the Trials. We've had two seasons which have been unreal and this one's been pretty good, too."

The bad news for the rest of the field here is no matter how hard you dig, you'll be unable to come to the conclusion Martin is in any way overconfident.

"The teams are so good here that you can curl great and still not win," said Martin. "You just have to take things as they happen, stay confident and play hard."

In a way, it's been good for Martin that Glenn Howard has also clinched a Trials spot. Neither one has suffered the same type of letdown that the lone women's team with a bye to Edmonton, Jennifer Jones, has gone through.

PUSH TO PASS

"Glenn hasn't let down and neither have we," said Martin. "We've had a battle. You know what? With him doing as well as he has, it's really helped us do well, because every week it's changed. We pass him, he passes us.

"It's been really good that way. We've been bugging each other all the time. It's a real competition. That's probably helped both of our teams."

Oh, sure, this Martin team has hit a rough patch here or there but with over $120,000 in earnings, the good times have outnumbered the bad. Martin and Howard have earned twice as much as their nearest rivals.

With the world title under his belt, Martin needs just an Olympic gold medal to say he's done it all.

No matter what happens this weekend, he still has a shot at his ultimate dream.

MARTINIZED

Kevin Martin's career highlights:

ALBERTA CHAMPION

1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2008

BRIER CHAMPION

1991, 1997, 2008

WORLD CHAMPION

2008

OLYMPICS

2002 Salt Lake City, Silver


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