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Howard has eyes set on Roar of the Rings

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TORONTO -- There is just one major title missing from Glenn Howard's resume.

The Canadian curling legend has won just about every significant event over his storied career but he has yet to step onto the Olympic podium. The 2014 Winter Games might just be his last opportunity to do so.

Howard has already qualified for the Canadian Curling Trials this fall. If he emerges victorious at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, he would represent Canada next February in Sochi, Russia.

"It's on my bucket list to get to an Olympics," Howard said Wednesday.

The Midland, Ont., native started curling over 30 years ago and is still at the top of his game. He won the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier and earned his fourth world title later in the year.

Howard and teammates Wayne Middaugh, Brent Laing and Craig Savill have been strong again this season. The veteran skip is in top spot on the World Curling Tour's Order of Merit and he won bronze at the recent national playdowns.

Howard said his team will likely sit down in the next week to look back at the last few years to determine what they need to do so they can peak at the Dec. 1-8 Olympic trials.

"You want to have your best performance in December and then hopefully you win that and then have it in February," Howard said after a promotional appearance at Yonge-Dundas Square. "I don't see a lot of changes. We kind of like what we've done. Our last two years have been pretty successful.

"A couple of weeks we weren't that happy about. We're not sure why and that's what we've got to figure out. We don't really know what that formula is but we're going to try to figure that out too."

Howard will be one of the favourites in the final Grand Slam of the season -- The Players' Championship -- set for April 16-21 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens). With a number of top international teams in the field, the event will have an Olympic-type feel.

Howard, who turns 51 in July, knows this year will probably be his last chance to get to the Games.

"I don't know whether I can go another four years," he said. "Maybe, I don't know. But I have to treat this like it is. Obviously this is our No. 1 focus. We're in the trials and hopefully (we'll) win that to represent Canada in Sochi, Russia. It would be the typical dream come true and my chances are getting less and less and I know that, just due to my age.

"It would absolutely be the highlight of my career if we could ever pull that off and get to Russia."

Howard and fellow veteran skips Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba and Kevin Martin of Alberta have already qualified for the Olympic trials. The rest of the eight-team men's field has yet to be determined.

Some of the country's top young skips -- perhaps Mike McEwen, John Epping or 2013 Brier champion Brad Jacobs -- might be in the mix as well.

"They're the up-and-comers for sure," Howard said. "Whether it's a changing of the guard -- I don't like that phrase -- but it's going to happen sooner or later, there's no doubt."


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 11, 2013 D4

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