Rob Fowler and his curling team have two goals for this season: Return to the Tim Horton’s Brier and earn a spot at either the Canadian Olympic Trials or pre-trials.
Their quest to collect enough points to play for the right to represent Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia began Friday with the Point Optical Curling Classic in Saskatoon, Sask. Qualifying for the Olympic Trials, which will be held in Winnipeg next December, will be tough for Fowler, third Allan Lyburn, second Richard Daneault and lead Derek Samagalski, as they will need to be the Canadian Team Ranking System point leaders at the end of this season.
However, their appearance in the Brier in March, where they won a bronze medal, will help them compete at more events as they now have an automatic berth at the 2013 Safeway Championship in Neepawa.
“To gain points on the Canadian Team Ranking System, you have to play in some of the bigger events across the country,” said Fowler, who plans to play in at least 15 events this season. “The fact we have the berth, it’s allowed us to travel a little bit more than we did last year and it’s allowed us to get to events where you would play for maximum points or close to maximum points. It’s changed the plan a bit this year versus what we had to do last year to ensure we were in the Safeway Championship.”
The Fowler foursome may be at a bit of a disadvantage this weekend as Fowler and Lyburn have hit the ice only twice, since neither Brandon-based club has any ice in yet. Fowler’s team, which has been joined in Saskatoon by former Brandonite Mike McEwen and other top teams, is very motivated to build on its success from last season.
“Having experienced the Brier last year, it was a great event and the guys are definitely motivated,” said Fowler. “We’ll work very hard to get back there and beyond that, the Olympic Trials are only a season away now and that’s a big part for what we’re trying to achieve.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 22, 2012