Martin hungry for Olympics

GEORGE KARRYS, SPECIAL TO SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

It was smooth sailing for Kevin Martin on this particular trip to Hogtown.

Unlike the last time.

The 43-year-old Edmonton skip was a busy man prior to last night's Grey Power World Cup of Curling battle against Sweden's Niklas Edin, an easy 9-1 win for the Martin foursome at the Hershey Centre.

Martin made a morning interview appearance on Fan 590 radio, then a team appearance at the North York Harvest Food Bank before pre-match training at the Hershey Centre.

And more interviews.

"We've been to Toronto a lot recently," Martin said. "Our agent keeps us busy."

Back in May, Martin was scheduled for another Fan 590 appearance but missed all but the final 10 seconds of the show.

"It was those Tamil protesters," said the 2008 world champion. "They had blocked all the roads and we couldn't go north. It was crazy."

Martin will be the first to admit his team hasn't been burning up the World Curling Tour this fall -- with good reason.

"We actually haven't played that much," said Martin. "I think we've played 16 games."

WINNINGS

That translates to a 13-4 record and just over $15,000 in winnings after two events. The squad lost the finale of its first event in Brockville -- to 2006 Olympic champion Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador -- and then was surprised in a west coast semi-final by Kelowna's red-hot Bob Ursel.

Gushue had previously burned up the Tour with three consecutive wins to start the young season.

"Now it begins," acknowledged Martin. "We play three in a row, and four of five. Get 'er going before we take another break just before the Trials, and train as a team."

The Trials, of course, signify Canadian curling's biggest prize: Qualification to represent Canada at Vancouver 2010 in February.

The "Roar of the Rings" is set for Edmonton's Rexall Centre in early December, and Martin, along with Coldwater's Glenn Howard, are co-favourites.

They, Gushue and Edmonton's Randy Ferbey and Kevin Koe make up the Canadian contingent at the Hershey Centre, opposing all nine international Olympic teams that are headed to Vancouver.

HIGH-STAKES

That makes the World Cup a high-stakes preview event, where the Canadians can size up the opponents each hopes to battle at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.

There is also a women's exhibition series, the Three Nations Cup, running concurrently with the main event.

Olympic reps Great Britain (Scotland's Eve Muirhead) and China (defending world champion Bingyu Wang) will challenge Canada's Shanon Kleibrink, the 2006 Olympic bronze medallist, and Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton.

"This kind of event will help Toronto," said Martin.

"International events will help promote the sport, within the big cultural communities.

"I'd like to see three or four of these events a year."

One of Martin's team sponsors, Uncle Ben's Rice, pledged to make a donation to the Canadian Food Bank with every win the team produces, from now through April, 2010.

"I had no idea," said Martin. "I couldn't believe all the food that was stored there. And they told me they need more.

"It really taught me about this area of need."


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