EDMONTON — Edmonton’s Kevin Martin won his first game at the Canadian Olympic curling trials but he had his hands full against his 25-year-old opponent.
Jason Gunnlaugson of Winnipeg, a baby-faced youngster with shaggy hair and in his first year as a skip, jumped out to a 3-1 lead with a steal of two points in the third end before the reigning Brier champion finally regained the lead in the seventh end.
Martin, the 2002 Olympic silver medallist, added a steal in the eighth on his way to a 7-5 win.
“I told you they were good, didn’t I? They made a ton of shots. It was a good game,” said Martin.
“We fought back though, and the guys didn’t give up because after three or four ends it didn’t look like they were going to miss anything. And he just doesn’t play with any fear at all, and that’s a scary guy to play,” he added. Martin was skipping his first game a year before Gunnlaugson was born.
“Thanks. I didn’t do that math so I appreciate that,” said Martin with a laugh. Gunnlaugson was proud of his team’s effort and seemed undaunted about losing to Martin.
“You could see when he got up he was sweating. We put them to the test, which you know not everyone here is going to do, and if we can put him to the test we’ve put ourselves in great shape for the rest of the round robin,” said Gunnlaugson, a poker player by trade.
“I think you’re going to see seven different Team Gunnlaugson’s this week. Everyone we’re going to play we’re going to play differently.”
Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., proved that you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good.
All that two-time world champion Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg had to do to win his game was to make a simple draw with his final stone in the 10th end to break open a 4-4 tie. He was heavy giving Howard a 5-4 victory.
“If you give Jeff a bucket of balls he’s always going to make it,” shrugged Howard.
“It’s huge. You want to get off to a good start and your’re playing against Jeff Stoughton — the two time world champion — and it was a battle back and forth and again we were very fortunate for Jeff to miss his last one.”
Stoughton said it was nobody’s fault but his own.
“It was just too bad I just threw it heavy so it was pretty simple. I just threw it too hard. We had every opportunity to win that game – nothing more you can ask for,” he said.
Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey took a huge lead over Toronto skip Wayne Middaugh and sat back and coasted to a 9-7 win.
Ferbey, who finished a disappointing 5-4 at the last Olympic trials, was happy with the outcome.
“We did what he had to do,” said Ferbey.
“We haven’t been on this stage for four or five years. Was I nervous? Absolutely.”
It was a good day for Edmonton teams at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Curling Trials, presented by Monsanto.
Kevin Koe joined Martin and Ferbey in the win column beating Pat Simmons of Davidson, Sask., 8-5.
In women’s action both Canadian women’s champion Jennifer Jones and Olympic bronze medallist Shannon Kleibrink were upended in their only draw of the day.
Kleibrink lost 8-3 to Chrystal Webster while Jones was dumped 8-5 by Amber Holland.
Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard made a double take out with her final shot to score five points and beat Krista McCarville 11-7 while Kelowna, B.C.’s Kelly Scott edged Stefanie Lawton 8-7.