Canadian curling skip Kevin Martin, at age 43, is old for an Olympian, but something of a youngster as a curler, if you believe the sport’s geezer image. In fact, curlers are getting younger, says the affable Martin, a silver medalist in Salt Lake City. Making curling an Olympic event has changed the sport in many ways, he said as he stood in the plaza of the Vancouver Olympic village, enjoying a non-competitive moment. “The fitness level of our athletes changed and the age of our athletes has dropped. Other than me,” he says. The average age of champions when he started was 36 or 37 years old, he says. “Now the average age of champions is around 28-29. So in the last 17 years, to have dropped seven or eight years, that’s a healthy sport. And a lot of that has to do with the Olympic Games.”
But even a 40-something skip is a hot property. As we’re talking, a group of figure skaters rush up. Pairs skater Cody Hay, 26, a fellow Edmontonian, pumps Martin’s hand. Hay’s skating partner, Anabelle Langlois, shyly asks Martin permission to get a photo to capture the moment. “I like curling, but Cory loves curling,” says the petite Langlois, who weighs about as much as two of the curling rocks Martin slings. Hay grew up skating, but his three brothers were all avid curlers. “They kind of taught me the basics of the rules. I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s a sport I always like to watch when the Olympics come on,” says Hay, who loves the tactics of the sport. Hay, who was born in Dawson Creek, B.C. and who now lives in Edmonton, says his family is coming to Vancouver. “I think they have some tickets for curling games,” he says. Oh, and they might catch some figure skating, too.