Kennedy curls towards Russia
Qualified for 2013 Olympic trials with Kevin Martin's rink
Saturday, Dec 10, 2011 06:00 am
Marc Kennedy punched his ticket to the 2013 Olympic trials with the Kevin Martin rink at the Canada Cup of Curling.
The southpaw second from St. Albert and the rest of Martin’s gold-medal winning team at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics have 24 months to prepare for the Canadian curling spectacle after defeating Glenn Howard of Ontario 7-4 in Sunday’s final at Cranbrook, B.C.
“It’s great to get that out of the way. We can now focus on that event and not have to worry about qualifying for it,” Kennedy said.
“There was a lot more emphasis on this event because it was a direct way in and you could definitely feel it out there on the ice.” Kennedy said. “This time around there was maybe a little more stress and a little more pressure. We know how much fun it was in Vancouver and I think everyone else saw how great it was so all the other teams want to get there just as bad.”
The winner of the Olympic trials in Winnipeg will represent Canada at the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia.
“That Olympic trials is going to be a tough one,” Kennedy said. “It’s a nice load off our shoulders to get that spot, but now is not the time to get complacent.”
The Saville Sports Centre foursome was also the first team to qualify directly into the 2009 Olympic trials where they won the right to represent Canada at the Vancouver Games.
“The experience the last time around will definitely, definitely help this time around. It will give us a chance to pick the events we want to play and what’s going to prepare us the best, as well as give us the time to work on all the things we need to work on,” Kennedy said.
The 2012 Canada Cup, the World Curling Tour this season and next, a two-year points collection competition and a pre-trials tournament in November of 2013 will produce the rest of the eight teams at the Olympic trials.
Kennedy, 29, described the gold medal victory with Martin, third John Morris and lead Ben Hebert as a life-changing experience.
“It will always be prevalent in our lives. It’s in everything we do now,” said the Paul Kane High School alumnus. “We’ve kind of set our life ahead, based on curling, because of that win. Everything is planned around it.”
In the gold-medal game Kennedy shot 95 per cent as Canada doubled Thomas Ulsrud of Norway 6-3 to finish 11-0, an Olympic record.
“We’re definitely still on a high. It will always be there in the back of our minds,” Kennedy said.
The first step towards qualifying for Russia started by going undefeated in seven games at the Canada Cup.
The Martin team also won $26,000 while earning berths at next year’s Canada Cup in Moose Jaw and the 2013 Continental Cup in Penticton, B.C.
“We didn’t play well the week before in Brantford, where we didn’t qualify. We came back and had a really good week of practice and played really well in Cranbrook. We were excited because we proved to ourselves that we can still play at that level when we work hard,” said Kennedy.
The four-time Brier first team all-star second shot 83 percent in the final.
“At the Canada Cup I was probably the weakest link. I didn’t play awful but I can definitely play a little better,” Kennedy said. “We’ve all had our ups and downs this year. We haven’t had all four of us playing our best at the same time, but that was probably Kevin and John’s best weekend of the year, which is nice to see.
“There is definitely a little room for improvement, especially for me personally. I just have to pick it up a little bit for the bigger events.”
The 2008 world champions are coming off a solid but unspectacular season that included a fourth-place finish at the Brier in London, Ont. Kennedy missed the bronze-medal game, a 10-5 loss to Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador, to join his wife, Nicole, for the birth of their second daughter.
“We really didn’t play the way we wanted to at last year’s Brier so it would be great to get back there and get into the final again,” Kennedy said. “For us the Brier is not only the biggest event in Canada, but there is a lot on the line when it comes to funding. There is a big prize purse at the end so that’s a really big motivator for us.
“Last year we did win a ton but we would be the first to tell you that we didn’t play our best. We made key shots at key times. Some teams didn’t play great against us so I wouldn’t say it was lucky but we probably won more than we should have based on the way we were playing.”
The two-time Brier champions are entered in two Grand Slam events and a Skins competition leading up to the Feb. 8-13 provincials in Camrose.