Edmonton’s Kevin Martin will seek to become the first curler to win five Briers as a skip, when the Tim Hortons Brier gets underway March 5 in London.
Although Randy Ferbey holds the record with six Brier wins, two of his victories were as third for Pat Ryan, while four were as skip. Currently, only Martin, Ferbey and Regina’s Ernie Richardson are four-time Brier winners as skips.
Martin defeated the reigning Canadian and world champion, Edmonton’s Kevin Koe, 7-4 in the final of the Boston Pizza Cup at High River on Sunday, February 13. It was his fifth consecutive provincial title, although he did not compete in 2010.
His Saville Sports Centre team of third John Morris, second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert, together now for five years, once again completed the provincial championship unbeaten, defeating Koe, 7-6 in the A final, then Geoff Walker, 10-5 in the A-B matchup to advance to the final.
The 44-year-old Martin will be making his 11th Brier appearance, all as skip. He won the Canadian men’s curling championship in his Brier debut in 1991 in Hamilton, the 1997 Brier in Calgary in a wild final over Manitoba’s Vic Peters, then captured the 2008 renewal in Winnipeg, edging Ontario’s Glenn Howard, 5-4, while going undefeated at 13-0, only the 14th such team to do so in Brier history and just the third since a playoff format was introduced in 1980.
Martin went on to claim his first world championship that year, beating Scotland’s David Murdoch in the final in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
In 2009 in Calgary, Martin’s team made history by running the table again at the Brier, finishing at 13-0 for an unparalleled 26-game unbeaten streak. However, his team lost the Ford World Men’s final in Moncton to Scotland’s David Murdoch.
After capturing the 2009 Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton, Martin achieved the pinnacle in the curling world, winning a gold medal for Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, while also going unbeaten.
For Morris, a two-time (1998-99) world junior champion, it will his fifth Brier appearance, after skipping Ontario to a runner-up finish to Randy Ferbey in 2002 in Calgary, then playing third for Martin in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Kennedy will make his fourth Brier appearance (2007, 2008, 2009), all as second for Martin, while Hebert makes his sixth appearance, after playing lead for Saskatchewan’s Pat Simmons in 2005 and 2006, then lead for Martin in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Alberta has won 25 Briers, the latest by Kevin Koe in 2010 in Halifax, second only to Manitoba’s 26 victories since the championship began in 1927 in Toronto.