When you’re on top, it’s not a bad idea to come to the first big event after the Olympics and remind people you haven’t gone away, that you haven’t lost your desire and your fire.
Both Olympic gold medallist Martin of Edmonton and silver medallist Bernard of Calgary did that Saturday.
In sending Glenn Howard and Shannon Kleibrink to the semifinals, they actually delivered stronger messages.
More like: “We still own you!”
Howard subsequently beat Kevin Koe in the semifinal, and will get another shot at Martin this afternoon.
Both Martin and Bernard claimed they had no idea to the extent they’ve maintained dominance. But curling has reached the point of growing public appeal, where people are starting to keep track of this sort of stuff.
This marks the eighth straight time Bernard has defeated fellow Calgarian and 2002 Olympic bronze-medal winner Kleibrink. It also stopped an 18-game winning streak Kleibrink had put together this season.
Martin is 6-0 here and registered his fourth straight win over Howard and his Coldwater, Ont., team — which is also 0-6 lifetime against Martin at the Brier.
“You hate to give another team an edge,” said third John Morris. “You get to an event like this and you want to show people you haven’t gone soft with success.
“You want to come right back and beat them this year. We’re competitive. We have a burning desire to win. We hate to lose. It’s programmed into us to refuse to lose.
“We want to show people, starting right now, that we had a taste of the Olympics and we want to get back to the next one in 2014 in Russia just as bad.”
Both Martin and Bernard have played reduced schedules to open the season.
Martin and his team skipped the last cash competition to take a tour of Northern Alberta and make appearances that raised more than $50,000 for junior curling.
“It’s important to us to come out and play like we have in the past,” Martin said.
“We hadn’t worked hard and weren’t playing that well in the events we did play. I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. But we went back to practising hard last week,” said the skip after the 7-4 win Saturday morning.
For Bernard, whose rink had only played three events and stood 14th in points, it has just been good to get back to a more significant stage.
Her rink will play Saskatoon’s Stephanie Lawton in today’s final, after Lawton dispatched Kliebrink.
“It’s good to come back to play in an arena on consistent ice. This validates us a bit.
“I think we knew it, but we needed this kind of an event.
“It was hard to get up for the other events after all the stuff. And we can make some money here for Christmas presents,” she said of the $25,000 for first and $15,000 for second, with $800 per win in the round robin.
To Martin, this event is like his own personal ATM.
But for a guy who has done so much winning, he sometimes doesn’t know much about exactly what he’s winning.
“I didn’t know that,” he said. “Are you sure about that?”
Every year they hold it, an Edmonton team has won it.
Randy Ferbey: 2003, 2004, 2007. Martin: 2005, 2006, 2009. Kevin Koe: 2008.
“That’s hard to believe,” he said.