Winning skips Cheryl Bernard and Kevin Martin share a moment after Martin after defeated Glenn Howard 7-3 to win the 2009 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials mens final in Edmonton on Sunday. Kleibrink won the womens final on Saturday by beating Shannon Kleibrink. Photo by The Canadian Press
This Olympic thing is becoming old hat for the Old Bear, but it promises to be an even more amazing trip for his young curling cubs.
Kevin Martin will make his third trip to the Games in search of his first gold medal, while third John Morris, 30, second Marc Kennedy, 27, and lead Ben Hebert, 26, will all be taking their first Olympic journey.
The Edmonton foursome earned the right to wear the nation's colours at the 2010 Vancouver Games in February thanks to a resounding 7-3 thumping of Coldwater, Ont.'s Glenn Howard on Sunday in the final of the Roar of the Rings Canadian Olympic trials at Rexall Place.
What a trip it promises to be, with the 43-year-old skip leading the way in a quest to be lords of the curling rings.
"It's an absolute dream come true, it's going to be the experience of a lifetime," said an elated Kennedy afterwards. "I said to John, I don't think for at least 30 years we'll realize how lucky we are to play an Olympics in our own country. To come out of Canada, with the strength of teams and how good Glenn's team is; we're just so lucky. We're just going to let it all sink in."
Kennedy was running through a gamut of emotions after Martin eventually ran Howard out of rocks in the 10th end and the team gathered around Morris, who lifted his broom in victory.
"It's extreme joy, there's some relief there, excitement and a little bit of fear for what's about to come," he said. "That's a life-changing victory that one. A life-changing event. As I said to John, this won't set in for years, to realize what we just accomplished in front of the hometown fans."
A gathering of 11,778 enjoyed every minute of it as Martin, after an opening blank, rang up a deuce in two, stole one in three and grabbed another pair in the fifth end to secure an insurmountable 5-1 lead at the break. Howard managed a deuce in seven before Martin took one in eight and stole another in nine.
Now they're off to the 2010 Olympic Games, with action beginning Feb. 16 against Norway's Thomas Ulsrud. Calgary's Cheryl Bernard will don Canada's colours on the women's side.
"We're going to Vancouver and we're going to do our best to bring home that gold, boys," said an ecstatic Morris immediately following the win. "The last two games, Kevin was just like he was at the Brier last year, where he gets that look in his eye where he's not missing many shots. When he has that look, you just stand back and watch and enjoy."
Martin finished the final at 93 per cent, while Howard struggled under pressure at 74. Hebert rolled in at 97 per cent, Kennedy at 90 and Morris at 89 for a team average of 92 per cent.
"The guys played an awesome game today, they really set it up for us," said Martin. "We put a lot of pressure on them early.
"It's been a long time coming," added Martin, who settled for Olympic silver in Salt Lake City in 2002 and finished a disappointing fourth in Albertville, as a demonstration sport, in 1992. He now hopes his third time is the charm for churning gold.
"We made it back in '02 and now to get another crack at it. It's a dream come true, for sure."