Crank up the ice-making equipment, because Glenn Howard can’t wait to hit the rink.
With a berth in the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympics just one major bonspiel win away, the three-time world men’s curling champion can’t wait to get the new season underway.
“I have never been more excited and I am looking forward more to this year than I have the last five,” said Howard, the skip of the Coldwater and District Curling Club rink.
Howard’s commitment to winning an Olympic berth extended to the off-season, as he hired a personal trainer to help get him in the peak physical shape.
A trip to Vancouver will dwarf everything else on a busy 2009-2010 schedule for the foursome of Howard, Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill.
They will be on familiar ground at the Olympic Curling Trials in Edmonton on December 6-13.
Edmonton was the site of Howard’s Brier triumph in 1987. Glenn and his older brother Russ went on to claim a world title that same year.
In 2007, Glenn Howard led his Coldwater rink to a win over Germany in the finals of the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, also held in the same city.
“Yes, Edmonton has been very good to me over the years. It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling to know I am going back there,” said Howard.
At the 2005 Olympic Curling Trials in Halifax, the Howard rink finished with a 5-4 record in round-robin play and just missed the playoff round.
But Glenn’s brother Russ went on to capture a gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, curling with the Brad Gushue rink from Newfoundland/Labrador.
“I was so happy for Russ when he won. His winning has spurred me on to want to win at Vancouver/Whistler,” said Howard.
A trip to Vancouver would mean some tough decisions for the team, as scheduling would prevent them from competing at some key events.
“If we win the Olympic Curling Trials in December, we won’t be competing at the Ontario Tankard and of course the Brier,” said Howard.
The Coldwater curling club has two chances to be represented at the 2010 Olympics, as Sherry Middaugh’s rink will compete in November at the Olympic Pre-Trials in British Columbia.
A win there would vault the Victoria Harbour resident into the Olympic Trials, one step removed from Vancouver/Whistler.
The Howard rink enters the new season with major momentum behind them.
Collectively, the team won nine bonspiels last season, finished second twice and posted one third place finish, while winning $225,000 in prize money.
The Shorty Jenkins Invitational, set for late September in Brockville, will launch the new season.
On Jan. 16-17, the Coldwater rink will compete close to home, when it participates in the third-annual Casino Rama Curling Skins Game.