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Male Athlete of the Week: Richard Hart

This week’s male Athlete of the Week is Richard Hart of Pickering, Ontario.

Richard Hart

Birthdate: Oct. 14, 1968
Birthplace: Toronto
Hometown: Pickering, Ont.
Curling Club: Coldwater and District curling club, Tam Heather Curling Club (Scarborough, Ont.)
Current Team: Team Glenn Howard
Position: Third
Delivery: Left
Nickname: Dick

Getting to know Richard Hart

Prior to the 1997-98 curling season, it’s doubtful you would have found many curling fans outside of Ontario who knew anything about Richard Hart.

Within provincial borders, the left-hander with a delivery famously described by TSN commentator Ray Turnbull as that of “an artist, not a technician” was highly respected as one of the best clutch throwers around. But he was largely unknown outside of Ontario — that is, until the 1997 Olympic Trials in Brandon, Man., where he helped Mike Harris claim an unexpected victory, and went on to win a silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Since then, Hart has established himself as one of the best vice-skips to ever play the game.

He hooked up with Glenn Howard a few years after the Olympics, and that team — rounded out by the front end of Craig Savill and Brent Laing — has been among the sport’s most dominant in recent years, piling up cashspiel victories by the dozens, topping the Canadian Team Ranking Systems Standings in 2007-08 and 2008-09, and also winning five consecutive Ontario men’s championships, capped by a victory in 2007 at the Tim Hortons Brier in Hamilton, followed by a gold medal at the 2007 Ford World men’s championship in Edmonton.

Along the way, Hart was named the all-star vice-skip at the 2006, ’09 and ’10 Briers.

Hart also played on the winning team at the 2007 Continental Cup of Curling in Medicine Hat, and also claimed a heart-breaking silver medal at the 2009 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton.

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Quick Hits with Richard Hart

Do you have any superstitions?
“I feel that it’s bad luck to have superstitions. I try to keep things as random as I can. That’s the way life is, that’s the way curling is.”

Three people, living or not, whom you would invite to a dinner party.
“Mike Harris, Glenn Howard and Ed Werenich — all great skips with whom I’ve had the pleasure of being on their teams.”

If you could be a star any other sport, what would it be, and why?
“Golf — I love to play the sport, it can be played until you reach the end of your life, it’s played all over the world, and, like curling, a large part of the sport is mental.”

If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why?
“Burned rock rule. Forget about all the options of when it was touched and what was going to happen. If a sweeper touches a rock at anytime they should just stop the thing, look up and apologize to the non-offending team, his own team, and anyone else who saw the infraction and the game should continue without any other conversation.”

What music do you like to listen to before a game?
“Nothing really; I’m not the kind of guy to walk around with an iPod.”

— Website? “”
— Order from Tim Hortons? “Medium regular, old-fashion glazed doughnut.”
— Vacation destination? “Big Cedar Lake, Kawarthas, Ont.”
— Junk food? Ice cream.”

Do you have any pet peeves?
“People who fish too close to the end of my dock. It’s a big lake, go fish somewhere else!”

Three things you always travel with?
“Blackberry, headphones for the plane, gum.”

First thing on your Bucket List?
“Build a new boathouse.”

Favourite pastime between draws at cashspiels?
“Definitely napping, followed by TV.”

One thing most people don’t know about you?
“I love the history of curling; I enjoy talking with great players from the past. Oh, and most people may not know this but I enjoy a beer every once in a while.”

What is the biggest misconception about curlers?
“That it’s just like bowling, only on ice!”

Your ideal shot to win an Olympic gold medal:
“Inturn draw to the 12-foot, down the middle of the sheet.”