Kevin Martin has been here before, you understand.
So he doesn’t need much in the way of motivation for Sunday’s Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings men’s final, presented by Monsanto, at Rexall Place.
“That’s what it’s about, isn’t it, to get to the big final,” Martin, the 43-year-old Edmontonian, told reporters Saturday. “I think that’s why I still curl — for those big games. Win them or lose them, it’s fun to be part of them. Hopefully we can get through the one (Sunday).
“We’ve (finished second) before, and we’ve won it before. So we know it from both sides. But you can’t win ’em if you can’t get in ’em.”
Martin and his rink of John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert finished in first place at these Canadian Curling Trials with a 6-1 record, advancing directly to Sunday’s 1 p.m. MT final.
The Martin crew will face an old adversary, the Glenn Howard rink of Coldwater, Ont., which defeated Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton 11-6 in the tournament semifinal Saturday afternoon.
Martin’s rink has taken its game to another level in recent years, with two straight Brier wins, a 2008 world championship and an unblemished 2009 campaign, except for some guy named David Murdoch.
But Martin has a long history of success at the Olympic Trials. Sunday’s clash will be his fourth Trials final — and an afternoon victory would make Vancouver his third Olympics after Albertville 1992 and Salt Lake City 2002.
Back in the 1991 Brier at Hamilton, Ont., which acted as the Trials, Martin and his team of Kevin Park, Dan Petryk and Don Bartlett beat Regina’s Randy Woytowich 8-4 in the final. They went on to finish fourth at Albertville, where curling was still an Olympic demonstration sport.
In 1997 at Brandon, with curling set to become a full medal sport at Nagano in 1998, Martin dropped a 6-5 final to the surprising Mike Harris team of Toronto.
And in 2001 at Regina, Martin and his crew of Don Walchuk, Carter Rycroft and Don Bartlett advanced directly to the final, beating Winnipeg’s Kerry Burtnyk 8-7 on the last rock. All four had an Olympic silver medal hung around their necks two months later in Utah.
“We’ve been in this game three of the last four Trials,” noted Martin, “so it’s not a lot different, I don’t think, in terms of the hard work we did before 2001, or when we lost to Mike Harris in ’97.
“But you do work at it hard, and I think I work at it as hard as anybody, and if you work hard, you get your fair share of chances,” added Martin. “It may or may not work out (Sunday), but it won’t be from lack of effort or lack of training. And I think that’s, at the end of the day, the most important thing — to look in the mirror and know you tried your best. If you tried your best, losing is not a problem. If you left something on the table, then you can question yourself at a later date.”
And what about playing in Sunday’s big game in front a partisan crowd at Rexall Place?
“That’ll be cool,” said Martin. “(Thursday night’s round-robin win over Howard) was really loud. A fantastic game. And the roar of the crowd . . . that’s an Edmonton crowd appreciating good talent. That’s fantastic. Coming from a person who’s from here, it’s really a nice thing to have that.”
And Sunday’s big game will come down to . . .
“One shot. One big break,” said Martin. “Now, it could be a made shot or a missed shot. Maybe a lucky break, or a hit-and-roll, or a real tough double, something like that that changes the momentum.
“I hope that’s the way it goes, ’cause that’s the way it should be.”