Kevin Martin didn’t think he would be chasing Olympic gold again.
The 2010 Olympic gold medallist from Edmonton thought after winning the 2009 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, he wouldn’t make another run at representing Canada at the Olympics. He definitely didn’t expect to be a player at the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto, in Winnipeg at the MTS Centre
“I kind of figured I’d shut it down after that. I didn’t think I’d come to this trials, other than maybe coaching or something. But geez, I was still having fun,” Martin said.
Beginning Sunday, Martin and 15 other teams from across the country will compete for the opportunity to represent Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
There might not be a better individual to ask about the Olympics and curling than Martin. His Olympic experience dates all the way back to 1992 when curling was a demonstration sport. He believes both the ice conditions and quality of play have really improved the dynamics of the sport.
Martin remembers when shooting 82 or 83 per cent was exceptional in the game of curling. Now, he doesn’t think any team will shoot under that this week.
“Anything under 90 as a team, I don’t think you’ll be (in the final). That’s how good it’s getting to be,” he said.
In fact, he believes that at the end of Tuesday’s draw, the top three teams leading in stats will be the top three teams on the leaderboard too. Shooting well, and shooting well early, in this event will be the key to getting into the finals. Two losses in seven games will be all a team can afford.
“You can only have two losses here, I think. 5-2 will get you into the semis, 6-1 probably gets you the hammer in the final. So that’s kind of the goal,” he said.
The quality of ice is also a big reason why Martin and his competitors are able to put up such high shooting percentages.
“The ice is perfect. If you miss, it’s your own darn fault,” Martin said. “It will be fun. There will be a lot of good shots being made to win some real tight games. It will be really good for the crowd.”
Fans will have an opportunity to see the players for the first time at the opening ceremonies, which begin at 11 a.m. (all times CST) on Sunday at the MTS Centre. Please note that 11 a.m. supersedes the time printed on your ticket.
At 1 p.m. the women will take to the ice in the first draw of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings. The draw features a match between local teams Jennifer Jones and Chelsea Carey. The 2013 Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion and World Curling Championship bronze-medallist Rachel Homan of Ottawa will open up against Capital One Road to the Roar qualifier Val Sweetin of Edmonton, while the other Capital One Road to the Roar qualifier, Renée Sonnenberg of Grande Prairie, Alta., will play Heather Nedohin of Edmonton. Closing out the first draw is Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., against Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon.
The first men’s draw is Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
All draws will be broadcast live on TSN/RDS 2, the official broadcast partner of the Season of Champions.