Kevin Park is not about to apologize for being in the Brier.
The longtime Edmonton curler who went to three Briers with Kevin Martin in the '90s, winning one in 1991, is back for the first time since 1995 as a third with Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton.
"It's not something I ever dreamed about, representing Manitoba at a Brier. But it's quite a thrill after all these years to get back," said Park in a telephone interview.
'MEET THE CRITERIA'
"I know there are going to be a lot of people who disagree with the idea of me playing for Manitoba in the Brier and everybody is entitled to their viewpoint. But I did meet the criteria."
Park shares an apartment with former Edmonton curler Pat McCallum, who moved to Winnipeg seven years ago.
"I moved in on Oct. 1. We had five events in the Winnipeg area in which I lived there, which helped. So I was here in Winnipeg about half the time. I've spent sometime back in Edmonton, too," said the curler who spent much of the away time in other cash 'spiel events.
Park said he joined Stoughton for the remainder of the Olympic qualifying run and that means trying to accumulate as many points as possible.
'A LOT OF POINTS'
"There were a lot of points available in the provincials and a lot more at the Brier. If we win the Brier, it might be the difference to get direct to the trials in Edmonton instead of the pre-trials," he said.
Kevin Martin and Glenn Howard are two of four teams who have already qualified direct to Edmonton. The next 12 teams proceed to battle over the remaining four spots at a November event in Prince George, B.C.
"I know there will be some controversy about this but I'm not going to let it affect my play at the Brier or take away from my Brier experience."