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Kevin Martin leads Canada past Sweden in curling semis

Eight years after losing Olympic gold in 2002, Martin gets another crack in final against Norway


 

Kevin Martin has waited eight long years for a chance at Olympic redemption. Another 48 hours isn’t going to kill him.

With a convincing 6-2 semi-final win against the Swedes this afternoon, the Canadian skip earned his team a spot in Saturday’s gold-medal match—a match he famously failed to win during the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Martin was forced to settle for silver back then, and although he doesn’t exactly like to dwell on those memories, he is certainly anxious for a second crack. “It definitely won’t be the end of the world if we don’t win, but I seriously want to get up that podium one more step,” he said. “It’s a lot of work to get back here, and you don’t get that many chances in a lifetime.”

In order to taste redemption, the Canadians will have to beat the Norwegian squad, which ousted Switzerland 7-5 in the other semi-final match. Led by skip Thomas Ulsrud—and dressed in the most hideous of checkered pants—Team Norway is the only crew that has come close to defeating the Martin rink, losing by a slim 7-6 margin on opening day. “It will be a real tight battle,” Martin said. “All you can do is play well. That is the key to this whole thing: make sure we get a lot of rest, have a real important practice session tomorrow, and then come out and leave nothing on the table.”

Ironically enough, it was a team from Norway that denied Martin the gold eight years ago. But in typical Martin fashion, he doesn’t buy into that kind of hype. “That doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “It’s different guys.”

For a while this afternoon, it seemed as though the Swedes might spoil Martin’s storybook ending before it had a chance to begin. Both teams traded single points in the early ends, mixed in with some nifty saves by Swedish skip Niklas Edin. But in the fifth, Edin made a disastrous error, botching a take-out attempt that allowed Canada to steal two points. When Martin stole another two in the next end, his team was suddenly up 6-1 and cruising to victory—much to the cowbell-ringing delight of the 5,000 fans stuffed into the bleachers. “This was our goal,” said John Morris, the Canadian third. “This is why we play the game.”

Although Martin’s reclamation project makes for great headlines, it only applies to him. His teammates from Salt Lake City are not his teammates today. But the current ones certainly understand how important Saturday’s game is for Martin—and for them. “I don’t think he has to say what it would mean to him to win,” said second Marc Kennedy. “But he has taught us a lot about playing in big games. We’ve played in two Brier finals and World finals and Olympic trial finals, so we know what it’s all about. Whether it’s a Brier title on the line or an Olympic title on the line, you’re going to feel the same feelings. We’ve got big-game experience, so hopefully we can pull it through.”


 

Kevin Martin leads Canada past Sweden in curling semis

  1. Much better Michael. Credit is given where it is due. Nice piece.

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