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Koe back on track for gold

After a breakthrough year in 2010, when Kevin Koe won both the Tim Hortons Brier and the World Men’s Curling Championship, the skip from Calgary’s Glencoe Club will be back in the medal hunt as part of the 16-team field for the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto.

It will mark Koe’s third shot at Olympic gold when the Canadian Curling Trials get underway, Dec. 1-8 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. In 2005, he threw third stones for John Morris, moving up to skip his own team at the 2009 Trials in Edmonton.

Kevin Koe in action at the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials (Photo Michael Burns)

Kevin Koe in action at the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials (Photo Michael Burns)

“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from the past two experiences is that it really comes down to making the big shots,” said Koe. “We did well the past two times, finishing third and fourth. In Edmonton, we only lost three games but it was one too many. Looking at it after, we figured the difference came down to four shots total.”

The round robin results lend credence to the theory. Facing the three teams that finished atop the standings – Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard and Jeff Stoughton – Koe lost to each by a single point. In the case of Martin and Howard, the matches came down to extra-end decisions.

“I thought we were really well prepared, and it showed in how well we played,” said Koe. “We were obviously disappointed, but there wasn’t really any bad things that came out of it.”

The team isn’t doing a lot of things differently in terms of preparations for the 2013 Roar of the Rings. “The main thing is we’re thinking more towards the long range plan. We’re going to be a little more selective in the events we enter – it’s not just about going where the most money is… every event is going to have a purpose.”

That was the rationale for Koe, and teammates Pat Simmons, Carter Rycroft and Nolan Thiessen, choosing the Ontario Curling Tour’s Stu Sells Oakville Tankard for their season-opener, where they lost to Brad Jacobs in the championship final.

“We had heard good things about the event, and good things about the ice, so we decided to give it a shot… and it was really good ice,” said Koe. “Pat and I didn’t have the chance to get on the ice in Calgary over the summer, so it was really good to get back out there.”

Koe considers competitive maturity at least part of the reason for his team’s success at the 2010 Brier, and the close call in 2012, where they lost the Tankard final to Glenn Howard.

“Going back five or six years, it got to the point where we were wondering if we’d ever get to the Brier. “After the disappointment at the 2009 Trials, we just really focused on our game, and it paid off. I think winning the Brier took off a lot of pressure and gave us more confidence as a team.”

Koe is optimistic looking ahead to the biggest event in Canadian curling this December. “The way curling has transformed, it’s become a three-year process that finally boils down to one week. We’re excited to get there, and hopefully we’ll be on our game.”

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