Martin sticks to master plan

By TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY

Kevin Martin says calm down, Canada.

Relax. Take a pill. Blow into a paper bag.

Martin doesn't have the heebie-jeebies. John Morris isn't coming unglued. Marc Kennedy isn't looking for a straitjacket.

Ben Hebert? Well, he'll be throwing up before the first game like he did at the Roar of the Rings final, but then he'll be fine.

Just because they went 1-4 and failed to make the playoffs in their first event back after qualifying for the elite eight in 24 consecutive Grand Slam curling events dating back to 2003, doesn't mean everything has gone off the rails.

Just because they lost to defending world champion David Murdoch of Scotland in the TSN Skins Game on the weekend -- their fourth consecutive loss to Murdoch after losing to him three times at last year's Worlds -- doesn't mean Martin is going to go to Vancouver and gag again.

It's all part of a re-peak process, he swears. All part of a grand plan.

The Edmonton skip laid it all out on a conference call Monday to set up this week's BDO Classic in Winnipeg, the final event prior to heading to Vancouver 2001 for his third Olympics.

NOT SURE

"I'm not sure the winning part or the losing part means that much," Martin said of what happens this weekend after the two crash-and-burn re-entry events following his Roar of the Rings success in Edmonton.

"I'd just like to see a good solid 85% to 95% performance from everybody," he said of the shot percentages.

"I don't want us all to get 95% yet. I don't want all of us to peak too soon."

If the idea was to go from peak to valley, they did a really good job of that in their first game back after taking the holiday season completely off from throwing rocks or even seeing each other.

"We were awful," said second Marc Kennedy.

"We were terrible. We've never curled like that since we got together. It really shows what practice means."

Martin said it was all part of the plan.

Not the 1-4 part. Not the miss-the-playoffs part. Not the go-home with-no-money part from a major bonspiel for the first time in seven years.

"We had to step back a step. It was absolutely the right thing to do to take time off. The rust showed. Now you go back to training hard again to get it back.

"Curling is a lot like golf. What matters is the mechanics."

But there's also the mental side of all this. They're going to the Olympics.

Martin can see the excitement in the eyes of his guys. The Old Bear has been to the great show, but not his cubs. And he's loving all aspects of that.

"In 1992, I had no idea how to do it. No idea how to do it at all," he said of the Albertville Olympics, where curling was a demonstration sport and he finished fourth.

"In 2002, I thought we were very successful. We were really close to winning," he said of the silver medal at Salt Lake City.

He wouldn't do much different except take a tad off his last rock draw to win. It went heavy.

And with it went the gold.

LIKES IDEA

Martin likes the idea of playing the Slam event this weekend, spending four days for Olympic familiarization in Vancouver next week, then coming back to Edmonton for a training camp while the rest of Alberta's curlers are in Olds for the provincials.

He'll then fly to Vancouver on Feb. 8, march in the Opening Ceremonies four days later, then open the competition on Feb. 16.

Losing to Murdoch again really puts a focus on the two being co-favourites.

"Well, that is four in a row and he did play really well," Martin of the lad from Lockerbie who made some spectacular shots in taking $70,000 by skinning first Martin and then Edmonton's Randy Ferbey in the final.

"And at the worlds last year, they did beat us three times. But you never know at an Olympics. In '02 I was really wrong. I was way off that time," he said of who he expected to be his main opposition.

He wasn't expecting to see Pal Trulsen of Norway in the final, much less losing to him.

"It's sport. If you knew how it was going to come out, nobody would watch."

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA

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