History of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings
The Canadian Curling Trials were conceived when the sport of curling was finally granted full-medal status for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. The inaugural event played out before a packed house in Brandon in 1997.
Mike Harris of Ontario delivered a shocking blow to Alberta’s Kevin Martin and went on to win silver in Nagano. But, the highlight of the week was a miracle shot by the late, great Sandra Schmirler, facing Shannon Kleibrink’s Alberta team.
Schmirler – the pride of Saskatchewan and the entire curling world – moved on to win Canada’s first Olympic gold medal in curling.
The Trials first became known as the Roar of the Rings in 2001 with Regina as the host city. At the end of an intense week of competition, Kevin Martin prevailed, defeating Kerry Burtnyk of Winnipeg in a hard-fought final. At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Martin was a whisker away from the gold medal that ultimately went to Norway’s Pål Trulsen.
On the women’s side, British Columbia’s Kelley Law defeated home-province favourite Sherry Anderson to move on to Utah for the Olympics. The west coast foursome would bring home the bronze medal.
The Roar of the Rings moved to Halifax in 2005, and Tim Hortons came on board as the title sponsor. Brad Gushue’s Newfoundland/Labrador team, with the added experience of the legendary Russ Howard, defeated Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton in the final. Gushue earned a place in history by winning Canada’s first men’s Olympic gold in curling, facing Finland’s Markku Uusipaavalniemi at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy.
In the women’s field, Shannon Kleibrink defeated Kelly Scott in the championship final and went on to win the bronze medal in Italy.
The Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings came back to the west in 2009, and impressive crowds showed their appreciation all week long when Canada’s best competed in Edmonton’s Rexall Place.
With six Alberta representatives in the 16-team field, the Wild Rose province took ownership of top spot on the two podiums, celebrating championship-final victories by the Martin and Cheryl Bernard teams.
Martin defeated Ontario’s Glenn Howard on the men’s side while Bernard came out on top of an all-Alberta women’s showdown, facing Kleibrink who was seeking a second consecutive trip to the Olympics.
In the highly emotional 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, our country won its second gold medal in men’s curling with Martin’s triumph over Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud. The Bernard team took the silver after a heartbreaking loss to Sweden’s Anette Norberg in the final.
The Olympic experience will be re-ignited this year when the top 16 teams in the country, eight men’s and eight women’s, head to Winnipeg for the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto, in the MTS Centre.