February 10, 2006
Few glitches for Canuck curlers
PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

TURIN, Italy -- Russ Howard forgot his accreditation, Shannon Kleibrink and her teammates left their hair-dryers behind.

Those were the biggest glitches greeting our Team Canada curlers in their first days at the Winter Games.

If that's all they screw up here, perhaps Canadians will finally be celebrating two Olympic gold medals in the sport we call our own.

Howard, part of the Brad Gushue rink, was late for a meet-the-media news conference yesterday when he apparently hurried a little too hard -- he left his photo accreditation behind and couldn't get through security.

"I don't think Russ has ever had to wear an accreditation, because everybody knows who Russ Howard is," Gushue said. "He just kind of walks on in. But here, it's a different story."

Sure enough, the Italian security guards didn't recognize the venerable yeller.

And the soon-to-be 50-year-old didn't try to convince them he was an athlete, either.

"I've been in a million events and I've gotten away with it every time," Howard said, laughing. "But I didn't even try here."

A day earlier, Kleibrink was at the athlete's village, when someone asked the skip if she'd visited the hair salon, yet.

"We've already been there and bought blow-dryers," Kleibrink said. "We forgot them."

Both men's and women's teams were looking their best yesterday, outfitted in their new Olympic gear, which Gushue says included more than 40 different pieces of clothing.

"It took about an hour to try it all on, and it's wonderful," the Newfoundland skip said. "I'm so proud to have all this stuff and be wearing it around other countries. A lot of people talk about trading it, but I plan on keeping every single thing."

The curlers will only be in the Turin athletes village another day or two, before they relocate to Pinerolo, site of the competition.

Gushue is glad he at least got to experience the village.

"We got here and the Canadian women's hockey team wanted a picture with us. That was kind of cool," he said. "And then all of a sudden everybody is, like, 'Good luck with your competition.' You get a sense of a bigger team."

The curling round robin gets underway Feb. 13.