Canuck curlers closing in on gold
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER — It could come down to the curlers.
Canada, as everyone in the world must now know, is a country that had failed to win a gold medal as host nation in Montreal in 1976 and in Calgary in 1988. Suddenly there’s the realization the host nation still has a hope of winning the most gold medals at these Games.
“Johnny Morris has been going around for the last couple days saying it’s gone from Own the Podium to Own the Gold-ium,” said teammate Marc Kennedy. “I can’t say it’s really our focus. But if we were the ones to make the difference for Canada to do it, that would be fantastic.”
The thought has certainly crossed the minds of Kevin Martin’s men.
So how do you prepare for it?
“Go to the Canada-Russia (hockey) game,” said Kennedy, the second on the team that also includes lead Ben Hebert.
Most of Canada will have watched that game, Kennedy realizes, and he knows a healthy portion of that audience will also dial in to curling’s medal-round matches, too.
If the curlers do help Canada own the top of the podium in Friday’s women’s gold-medal game and Saturday’s men’s gold-medal match, it will only happen if Martin and Cheryl Bernard can deliver in the clutch. And that would mean they’d both have to win Thursday’s semifinals first.
“Let’s not pretend otherwise here. It’s a pretty scary game,” Kennedy said of the afternoon match against either David Murdoch of Great Britain or Niklas Edin of Sweden, who were scheduled to play a tiebreaker here Wednesday.
There’s no Page playoff system here like at the Brier, Scotties or the world championships. No 1-2 game with the winner going to the final and the loser going to the semifinal. Win, you go to the gold-medal game. Lose and you’re going for bronze.
The Page system rewards the first-place team in the round-robin with more than last rock advantage in the first end and choice of rocks.
And both Canadian teams finished first, Martin running the table at 9-0 and Bernard at 8-1.
“The Olympic system is tough on the players but really good for the fans,” Martin said.
Martin said curling is like hockey. You’ve got to bring back the gold — especially if you’re holding his broom.
Martin had an out-turn draw to the four-foot to win gold in Salt Lake 2002 and came up heavy. He’s one-for-six internationally (two Olympics and four world championships) in terms of gold.
“It’s a little different for me because really I need to get one more step up that podium,” he said.
Four years ago, Martin blew up his long-time team to bring in Morris, Kennedy and Hebert.
And while they only have one world title to show for it, they’ve been widely recognized as the best team in the world during the Olympic quadrennial.
“Bring it on, it’s time for the playoffs. What more can you ask? Bring it on,” Morris said.