Kevin Koe off to strong start to season

Kevin Koe has qualified for the Olympic Pre-Trials, but the veteran skip said his rink is aiming to...

Kevin Koe has qualified for the Olympic Pre-Trials, but the veteran skip said his rink is aiming to earn a direct route to the Olympic Trias in Winnipeg. (David Stobbe/Reuters/Files)

ROD KELLY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:24 PM ET

CALGARY - Check out the latest happenings on the Canadian Curling Association or the World Curling Tour websites and one thing becomes clear in no time at all.

A glance at Canada’s official Team Ranking System (CTRS) standings or the WCT’s 2012-13 money list reveals the Calgary-based rink of skip Kevin Koe, third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen is making a big statement in men’s play this season.

With the arduous battle to earn one of six remaining spots in next year’s Olympic Trials in Winnipeg (a.k.a., the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings) underway, Team Koe appears to be putting it all together at a good time.

“It’s still early,” Koe said Monday, a day after his Glencoe Club rink prevailed at the $70,000 Cactus Pheasant Classic, the second of back-to-back World Curling Tour titles for the reigning Canadian men’s silver medallists.

“There’s a lot of curling left,” Koe said. “There’s some big events with a lot of points out there, but yes, we’re happy with the way everything has been going so far.

“We couldn’t be happier. It’s been a great start.”

While the work involved in earning a qualification spot in the 2013 Roar of the Rings in Winnipeg is a complex one, Koe said putting together another solid season is certainly beneficial in the process.

Two men’s teams will qualify for the December Trials through a last-chance Pre-Trials event in Kitchener, Ont., next year, while others can get directly to the eight-rink showdown in Winnipeg by leading the way on the CTRS charts.

So far in men’s competition, only Edmonton’s Kevin Martin, the 2010 Olympic gold-medal winning skip whose rink includes Calgarians John Morris and Ben Hebert, as well as reigning world champion Glenn Howard’s lineup out of Coldwater, Ont., are secured for Winnipeg.

Koe, a former world champion, has qualified for the Pre-Trials, but the veteran skip said his rink is aiming to earn a direct route to Winnipeg.

“The way we look at it is we have to go out there and have a good year,” he said. “Basically, it’s about going out and playing well all season.”

This year marks the second in which the current Koe crew has played together, and the skip said he believes last year’s acquisition of Simmons, who helped guide Saskatchewan to a third-place finish at the 2008 Brier, has been key to the rink’s recent progression.

“Any time you get a new team member, it always takes a little while,” Koe said.

“But we had a good year last year and I think we’re building on that. Pat’s been a big part of it. We have a full year under our belts now, so that experience helps.”

In Sunday’s championship game at Brooks, Koe stole a point in the eighth end to break a 5-5 tie en route to claiming the title from 2011 tournament winner Mike McEwen of Winnipeg.

A week earlier at the $58,000 Canad Inns Prairie Classic in Portage la Prairie, Man., Koe & Co. defeated Martin, his longtime Alberta rival, 9-4, in the final.

The win in Sunday’s championship contest in Brooks not only made it 11 straight games ending in victory for the Calgary-based team, it also followed a silver-medal showing earlier this year at Saskatoon’s Point Optical Curling Classic and semifinal showings at events in New Westminster, B.C., and in Brockville, Ont., earlier this fall.

This weekend, Koe's Calgary crew will look to make it a WCT trifecta as it travels north for the $33,000 Red Deer Curling Classic.


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