Ben Hebert had built up a pretty nice collection of Brier Purple Hearts since exhausting his junior eligibility.
The burly lead from Regina went to two straight Briers with Pat Simmons, in 2005 and 2006, then played in three more in succession after moving to Alberta to hook up with Kevin Martin’s powerhouse curling team based in Edmonton.
And give Hebert credit — when it came to finding an excuse for the streak ending at five, he had a dandy, as he, along with Martin, third John Morris and second Marc Kennedy had been tasked with the responsibility of representing Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
You could make the argument that no team in Canada was better prepared for that challenge than Martin’s, which has been dominant since forming prior to the 2006-07 season, and Hebert has played a big role in that success.
His sweeping power is without equal in the sport, and along with his reliable shot-making, it’s a big reason why he’s been a first-team all-star at the Tim Hortons Brier on two occasions (2009, 2011) and a second-team selection in 2007.
Hebert got his first taste of international competition back in 2003, when he was added to Steve Laycock’s Canadian junior champs as an alternate, and that team went on to win gold at the world junior championship.
Since hooking up with Martin and Co., Hebert has claimed a pair of Brier titles, in 2008 and 2009, in addition to winning the world championship in 2008.
But the highlight, obviously, was the 2010 Olympic gold-medal triumph at Vancouver, where Canada claimed gold with a win over Norway in the final at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.
The Martin team recently took a major step toward defending that title, claiming the first men’s berth into the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials in Winnipeg by winning the Capital One Canada Cup of Curling on Dec. 4 in Cranbrook with a win over Glenn Howard in the final.
Hebert, along with the rest of the Martin team, is very active in making appearances at junior camps across the country, hoping to inspire youngsters to taking up the game for the rest of their lives.
Hometown: Chestermere, Alta
Curling Club: Edmonton-Saville Sports Centre
Current Team: Team Kevin Martin
Quick Hits with Ben Hebert
Do you have any superstitions?
“Sure, but nothing that ever works! If we’re on a winning streak, I try to go through the same routine. That’s about it.”
Three people, living or not, whom you would invite to a dinner party.
“Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, Michael Buble.”
If you could be a star any other sport, what would it be, and why?
“Golf — there’s nothing like smashing a drive or draining a 20-footer ! Great sport.”
If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why?
“I dunno — no more opening ceremonies? They’re painful.”
What music, if any, do you like to listen to before a game?
“No tunes before a game, but I’m a country boy! With a side of gangster/dance!”
— Website? “TSN.ca.”
— Order from Tim Hortons? “Large double-double.”
— Vacation destination? “Cabo San Lucas.”
— Junk food? “Oh, chips and dip, for sure.”
Do you have any pet peeves?
“Slow or even just bad drivers!”
Person who had the most influence on your curling career. And why?
“Too many to name. My dad, I guess, for being my first coach, and getting me into the sport. Been many since then, though.”
First thing on your Bucket List?
“Get to either the Masters or Wimbledon ? Tough choice.”
Favourite pastime between draws at cashspiels?
“Our team plays a lot of cards. Whist is the game, but (second) Marc (Kennedy) and I have finally started winning lately so for some reason we haven’t played very much !?!?”
Mixed doubles in the Olympics — thumbs up? Thumbs down? And why?
“Thumbs up! If there’s another way to get to the Olympics in our sport, let’s do it. The greatest show on Earth is the Olympics, so the more peeps we get there the better!”
One thing most people don’t know about you?
“That I’m a real romantic with my wife . . . come to think of it, I don’t even think she knows! Hahahaha!”
Your ideal shot to win an Olympic gold medal:
“Outturn, just make contact. I’m sweeping, of course, and Kevin is throwing . . . Oh wait, we had that shot! Boom…”