Martin anxiously awaiting return to Summerside

Journal Pioneer staff
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For Players’ Championship curling event in April

SUMMERSIDE – One of the world’s best-known curlers can’t wait to return to Summerside.

Kevin Martin and his Edmonton rink of third stone Dave Nedohin, second stone Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert are expected to be one of the teams competing in the Grand Slam of Curling Players’ Championship at Eastlink Arena from April 15 to 20. Early-bird ticket packages are now available at the Credit Union Place box office.

“We’ll be there, for sure, for sure,” said Martin, who competed in the 2012 Players’ Championship in Summerside. “We rented a house in town (Summerside). We actually had a lobster roast one night. The deal was I had to cook the steak and another fella cooked the lobster.

“We had an awesome time. It was the first time I had ever been to P.E.I.”

In the 2012 Players’ Championship, Martin went 5-2 (won-lost) in the round robin, before dropping a 6-4 semifinal decision to eventual champion John Epping of Toronto.

Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon, Sask., won the women’s title.

Top 24 teams

The 24 participating teams – 12 men and 12 women – have to earn their way into the Players’ Championship.

“It’s a very difficult event to qualify for,” said Martin, a two-time Canadian champion, four-time Alberta provincial champion, a world champion and an Olympic gold-medallist. “It’s my favourite because it’s always the best of the best.

“If you don’t play well you may not win a game, and the only way you can get in is to qualify by playing well on a consistent basis.

“You can’t get in by winning one thing, you can’t get in any other way other than being one of the top 12 teams in the world. That’s why it’s so much fun.”

The Grand Slam of Curling consists of four events – Masters, Canadian Open, National and Players’ Championship.

“It’s (Players’ Championship) the last event of the year,” commented Martin. “You are playing for a large amount of money, not to mention the Sportsnet Cup, the extra $100,000 on the line.

“It’s a very difficult event to qualify for. It’s my favourite because it’s always the best of the best. If you don’t play well you may not win a game, and the only way you can get in is to qualify by playing well on a consistent basis. You can’t get in by winning one thing, you can’t get in any other way other than being one of the top 12 teams in the world. That’s why it’s so much fun.” Kevin Martin

“There is all of that, but the curling fraternity is a fairly tight-knit group, and you are playing against a lot of friends. Being the last event of the year you tend to have a lot of fun, but yet there is so much on the line.

“The players love it, it gets huge ratings on TV and is a real treat.”

Accessible to fans

One thing that really impressed spectators in the 2012 Players’ Championship was how accessible the curlers were to the fans for autographs, photos and discussions. Martin said interacting with fans is something the curlers really enjoy, adding the Players’ Championship is especially a fan-friendly event.

“It’s the last event of the year and the players do relax more than they do in some other events,” said Martin. “The people of Summerside will get to see the players compete at their highest because it’s the end of the year and everybody is sharp, but also being the last event of the year they let their hair down and have a little bit of fun too.

“They end up being out in the community more than what would normally be the case.”

Twitter.com/JpsportsJason

 

Quick Glance

A look at the Players’ Championship:

What: Grand Slam of Curling Players’ Championship.

When: April 15 to 20.

Where: Eastlink Arena in Summerside.

Who: Top 12 men and top 12 women’s teams in the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit standings.

Why: The winning men’s and women’s rinks of the Players’ Championship will each earn $100,000. Teams will also earn points towards the Grand Slam of Curling final standings.

Organizations: Credit Union Place

Geographic location: Summerside, Edmonton, P.E.I. Toronto Saskatoon Sask. Alberta

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