Martin busy off ice, too

GEORGE KARRYS, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

TORONTO - Once in a while, Olympic curling champion Kevin Martin -- the self-described Alberta "farm kid" -- feels like a Toronto boy.

When Martin and his teammates aren't on the ice they are fully engaged in another career -- corporate appearances and speaking engagements -- which they approach with gusto.

And this new gig brings them to Hogtown quite often.

"In the last nine days I've been to, let's see, Toronto, Toronto, Fort St. John (B. C.), Hines Creek (Alta.), Slave Lake (Alta.), Toronto and ... Toronto," Martin said Tuesday from Oshawa.

The team started the day at 8:30 a.m. at the Bayview Country Club, then taped their Tuesday afternoon appearance on the TSN sports talk show OTR (Off The Record) before a fundraising event in support of the Humane Society Of Durham Region.

The society suffered a fire in 2008 and needs $500,000 to rebuild. The Pedigree Adoption Drive, which will direct some $150,000 to animal shelters this year, has stepped in to lend a hand as has Team Martin, which is sponsored by Mars Co., owners of the Pedigree brand.

That afternoon Martin and teammates John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert answered the phones and took pledges from the public. In the morning, a number of dogs were straining to join the athletes on the Bayview curling surface.

"I was begging the icemaker to let them on the ice," Martin laughed. "I told him that back on the farm the dogs would have just a great time on the ice, it was fun for everyone.

"There was this one English lab, he was just dying to get out there and slide around. But the icemaker didn't like that idea."

Martin believes he made eight appearances in October and a remarkable 15 in November. Many of those involved all four team members, which flies in the face of a curling tradition--that the skip gets all the attention.

"It's weird that this has become a substantial part of my time, of my life," said Martin. "For a team to do that many appearances, to that degree, is unusual. It's kind of an exciting time."

The team has committed to another four-year run for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games along with their many sponsors, which even includes major golf brand Callaway.

Martin admits the team had some concerns about mixing business with, well, their on-ice business.

"We were concerned we weren't going to play well this fall, and we are playing less compared to other years," Martin said. "But the results are there, the win/loss record is pretty good."

Indeed, the team has scored outright victories in three World Curling Tour events thus far, and lost twice in quarterfinals.

Martin has become a fan of some Hogtown sport media types, such as veteran FAN 590 radio host Bob McCown.

"He is just so knowledgeable," enthused Martin. "His show is great. I've told him I will do his show anytime, whenever he wants me I'm there."

At this point, Martin is even used to the YEG-YYZ airline schedules.

"I took the same flight out last week," said Martin. "It was a grocery industry event at the Toronto Conference Centre, in front of 1,700 people."

Martin had to follow noted environmentalist David Suzuki, who was the preceding speaker.

"That was neat," said Martin. "The other day I had lunch with Les Mann, a senior VP at Walmart Canada. We had a great time. Those kinds of meetings, when you can draw off of the energy of someone like that ... it's amazing."

Visit George Karrys' site at curlinguru.com


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