Howard has eyes on Vancouver

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:05 PM ET

It's not as though three-time world champion Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., competes with one hand tied behind his back.

Sweeping would be sort of difficult if that was the case.

But he does have certain disadvantages compared to many of the rinks against which his team competes.

For one thing, Howard's teammates are spread throughout Ontario, meaning that practising as a team is a rare luxury indeed. His lead, Craig Savill, lives in Ottawa. His second, Brent Laing, is in Horseshoe Valley, and his third, Richard Hart, is in Pickering.

"It's definitely not an advantage," said Howard, with a laugh, during a break from his duties yesterday as a manager at The Beer Store in Penetanguishene. "If I had my druthers, we'd no doubt play more together. If we all lived in the same town, it would be so easy to get together and practise and maybe play in a league. The team practices we've had together you could definitely count on one hand. Maybe one or two a year, max.

"But it works," Howard added. "We just go and practise on our own and if there are any problems, we'll try to get to the 'spiel early and work on it."

Howard is hoping that his rink will get a little more time to practise together this fall and winter because there is so much on the line this season. The big prize, of course, is the Olympic Winter Games, which begin Feb. 12 in Vancouver.

SPOT IN TRIALS

Howard, 47, has clinched a spot at the Olympic trials in Edmonton, Dec. 6-13. But qualifying for the Games will be a tall order. It has been said that winning the Brier or the Canadian Olympic trials is more difficult than winning the world championships, or Olympics, which his brother Russ, who is based in Moncton, N.B., accomplished in 2006 in Turin as part of the Brad Gushue rink.

Still, Glenn Howard does dream of representing Canada in Vancouver this winter.

"Absolutely, I think about it often," he said. "And the closer it gets, the more I think about it. You get a warm and fuzzy feeling thinking of competing in the Olympics, thinking: 'Geez, that could be me, throwing the last shot to win the gold medal.' It's like when you're 10 years old, wishing you could play in the NHL."

Howard plans to take an extra week or so off this fall to prepare for the trials. Part of his preparation also will include taking part in the Grey Power World Cup of Curling, which will be held Oct. 21-25 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

Confirmed Canadian entries in the event include 2010 Olympic hopefuls Howard, Gushue (St. John's) and Edmonton-based skips Kevin Martin, Kevin Koe and Randy Ferbey.

A number of international teams that already have qualified for Vancouver also will take part in the Mississauga event, including 2007 world championship silver medallist Andy Kapp of Germany, who lost to Howard in the final at the 2007 worlds. Howard drew Kapp in the opening round.

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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