Which team will we see?
The so-called money team which was bounced in the first round of this year’s TSN Skins Game, losing the semi to Alberta rival and eventual winner Kevin Koe, earning a mere $6,700 in an event where Martin-skipped teams have won a record $419,850.00 over the years — the skip who has won the most world curling tour majors but didn’t manage to win the most recent one?
Or the team which has dominated curling’s toughest province — the return of the outfit which won the province in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 after taking a year away to represent Canada at Vancouver 2010?
“Uh, we’ve only played in two events,” said Martin.
“The Skins and the Slam are the only two we’ve been in. And in the Slam in Dawson Creek we lost the final to Glenn Howard by one after my last rock on the first end picked to leave us down 3-0.
“We’ve only played in eight events, total, this year. Other teams have played 12 or 13.”
Win this week and maybe the question will go away. But understand one thing. It was Kevin Martin asking the question in the first place!
Martin said before he arrived in Cranbrook for the Canada Cup back in early December that he was not sure that providing an early bird Olympic trials berth a full two years out was in the best interests of Canadian curling.
“It would leave you with two long seasons of trying to get up for a lot of other events and to maintain your momentum heading into the trials two years from now. Winning it now may be a lot tougher to sustain the competitive edge,” said the Edmonton skip who represented Canada at the Albertville 1992 Olympics as a demonstration sport, won silver in Salt Lake in 2002 and gold in Vancouver 2010.
Two months later and ...
“We really put a lot of importance on the Canada Cup,” he said of the event which, for the first time, provided the winner with a don’t-have-to-go-hard-to-collect-points admission to the eight-team Tim Horton’s Roar of the Rings in Winnipeg 24 months after the fact.
“We put a lot of emphasis on being the team to lock up that first spot. When we did, we were really able to slow the year down.”
Hello Hawaii, Palm Springs and Mexico. Two years of tribulations for the team was taken care of in five days.
Well, here’s where we find out, perhaps, if it did more harm than good.
Monday at the Derrick, Martin and team completed the five-day training camp long-time coach Jules Owchar has put them through prior to each provincials and each Brier.
“You try to be prepared. We always avoid playing in an event the week before and train hard. You want to go to there and shoot high percentages. You want to go there knowing our mechanics are sound. We think we’re ready to go again.”
The provincials and entry to a 12th Brier next month in Saskatoon with a home town 2013 Edmonton Brier on tap next year are the biggest things left to play for.
Martin has made curling history. But there’s still Brier history to be made. And you have to get there to make it.
Last year in London, Ont., Martin had his record 30-game Brier winning streak snapped and failed to win his fifth Brier, which would be a record for a skip, although Randy Ferbey’s six is tops for a player.
“That would be nice,” Martin admits of winning a record fifth crown for a skip throwing last rocks.
Martin also upped his win total to 106 last year in London, leaving him within range of Russ Howard’s record of 113.
But Martin laughs at breaking that record.
“Even if I were to get that record, I wouldn’t have it long. Brad Gushue is going to come out of Newfoundland for about 25 straight years and own it eventually,” he said.
It’s starting to seem like Martin, Morris, Kennedy and Hebert have come out of Alberta about 25 years straight.
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