Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

canada cup of curling Competition compensates for lack of rest

Brier-winning Martin squad gears up for another championship run

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REGINA -- There wasn't much rest for Kevin Martin's Canadian men's curling championship team.

Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert had just one off day to celebrate after winning the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary on Sunday before heading to the Canada Cup of Curling, which starts today in Yorkton, Sask.

"We did talk about how I couldn't believe that we had to go Yorkton," Hebert, a Regina product, said from his Calgary home after beating Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton 11-4 on Sunday to win a second straight national men's title. "I know that I can't even curl at the club for fun and my team is the same way. We're way too competitive to go there and just lay down for teams because we won the Brier. It wouldn't surprise me if we made the playoffs and made another good run at it. I know my teammates and their drive to win."

Martin's team was in a similar situation in 2008. Shortly after winning the Brier in Winnipeg, it was off to Kamloops, B.C., for the Canada Cup. Martin rolled into the final where he was beaten 6-5 by Edmonton's Kevin Koe.

"It would be nice to relax a little bit because of the physical part of the game for Marc and I," said Hebert, who is off to the men's world championships, April 3-12 in Moncton, N.B. "We also played so many intense games that my brain needs a break.''

The trip to Yorkton was made a little easier because the team flew there on a private jet. Hebert is also looking forward to playing in a major curling event in his home province. "I'm sure there will be a great show. We get to have a few victory drinks and celebrate our Brier win with some of our fellow competitors and fans."

The Canada Cup features 10 men's and 10 women's teams vying for $150,000 in prize money. The winners earn $25,000 each and a return trip in 2010 .

They can also qualify for the Canadian Olympic team pre-trials (Nov. 10-14) in Prince George, B.C., or the full trials (Dec. 6-13) in Edmonton, depending on the team's previous successes. Teams can also pick up points in the Canadian Team Ranking System, which will also be used to determine squads for the trials. Martin already has a berth clinched in the trials in Edmonton.

Hebert said that doesn't mean that the Canada Cup still isn't important. "We play because we want to be the best. Anytime you win a bonspiel and you beat some of the top teams in the world, it's so satisfying."

Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones was scheduled to participate but withdrew after successfully defending her Canadian women's title. She's competing in the world women's championships in South Korea beginning on Saturday.

The Canada Cup runs through Sunday.

-- Canwest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 18, 2009 C4

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