Martin rink's push on for Sochi
By ROD KELLY, QMI Agency
|Alberta skip Kevin Martin (second right) looks over John Morris (left), Marc Kennedy (second left) and Ben Hebert on a shot against Northwest Territories/Yukon during the Brier in London, Ont., March 10, 2011. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters)
CALGARY - It was only a-year-and-a-half ago when Canadians celebrated a magnificent gold-medal performance by Kevin Martin & Co. at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
And while that success may seem fresh in the memory bank for fans, the hard work that’s involved in qualifying to wear the Maple Leaf on sport’s biggest stage has once again begun for the powerhouse Alberta rink.
“Definitely, that would be our goal again,” John Morris, the team’s hard-throwing third said of earning the crown jewel as Olympic gold medallists.
“We’d like nothing more than to represent Canada at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014.”
While both Morris and lead Ben Hebert continue to reside in nearby Chestermere, skip Martin and second Marc Kennedy call Edmonton home.
The set-up has obviously not been a hindrance to the team. In fact, Morris said it’s become much more of the norm these days for the nation’s top rinks to have players from a variety of Canadian cities.
The separation means Morris and Hebert head north for training as the rink continues its push to get to Russia.
“We’ll go up for a good three or four days, at least once a month,” Morris explained.
“We like to get in some good training before the big events, especially. We’ll have full, eight-hour training days, on and off the ice.”
Heading into last weekend’s World Curling Tour play, the Martin rink was tied for second in money earned and second in the Tour’s Order of Merit. The solid showing is all part of the plan for Martin and crew.
For all teams gunning for the XXII Olympics Games in Russia, the qualification process is a complex one.
But Morris said step No. 1 is earning that valuable spot in the eight-team 2013 Olympic Curling Trials.
That feat can come in a few forms.
Winning the Canada Cup of Curling this season or next season is one way to get to the trials showdown.
Likewise, leading the Canadian Team Ranking System either this season or next is a route to the Roar of the Rings.
Then, there’s the two trial spots up for grabs in a pre-trial tournament. Morris simplifies the process in explaining it, saying solid play week-in and week-out is the real key to making the final eight.
“What we want to do is continue being a very consistent team,” he said.
“We want to make it into as many finals, in as many events as possible.”
And much of the rink’s biggest competition is right here in Alberta, with the resurgence of former world champion Randy Ferbey, the always-competitive Kevin Koe rink and up-and-comers such as southern Alberta’s Brock Virtue. The parity makes getting out of Alberta a huge challenge, Morris said.
“It’s definitely the toughest province. There’s just so many top teams.”