Team Northern Ontario third Marc Kennedy throws during the Brier championship round against Canada, in Kingston, Ont., Friday, March 6, 2020. Two-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist Marc Kennedy will join Brendan Bottcher's curling team as an alternate for the upcoming men's world curling championship. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Marc Kennedy joins Brendan Bottcher team for men’s world curling championship

CALGARY — Two-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist Marc Kennedy will join Brendan Bottcher’s team as an alternate for the upcoming men’s world curling championship.

The move is insurance against the back injury that knocked Bottcher’s third Darren Moulding out of the recent Canadian mixed doubles championship.

Bottcher, Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin won the Canadian men’s championship March 14 in Calgary.

Moulding and Joanne Courtney withdrew Sunday from the subsequent mixed doubles championship in Calgary when Moulding suffered back spasms.

Bottcher’s regular alternate Patrick Janssen remains with the foursome in a support role.

Canada opens the BKT Tires and OK Tire World Men’s Championship on April 2 against Scotland’s Bruce Mouat.

Canada must finish in the top six to guarantee the country a berth in men’s curling at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“We are still very optimistic that Darren will be ready to go for Game 1 against Scotland, but having Marc available and ready to jump in at any time during the competition will certainly be a great option for us,” Bottcher said Friday in a statement released by Curling Canada.

“Considering how important this world championship is for Olympic qualifying, we decided as a team, and through talking with national coach Jeff Stoughton, that we needed to make sure that we were as prepared as possible for every eventuality.”

Moulding continues to receive treatment on his back.

“I’m making progress, and I’m feeling much better than I was last weekend,” said Moulding.

“I’m really hoping to be able to play, but I also know the big picture here, and I’ll do whatever it takes to give our team the best chance of success at the world championship.”

Kennedy played third for Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs in the Tim Hortons Brier earlier this month and participated in mixed doubles with Val Sweeting.

“My preference would be to watch the entire event and see Darren compete at the high level we all know he’s capable of, but I’ll be ready to go if needed to give Team Canada a chance to succeed,” Kennedy said.

The 39-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., won Olympic gold in 2010 playing second for Kevin Martin. Kennedy won world titles with Martin in 2008 and Kevin Koe in 2016.

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