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Wednesday Mar 09 2011

There have been five such Trials competitions to determine Canada’s representatives for the Olympic Winter Games.

It began in 1987, when the Labatt National Curling Trials were held in Calgary and won by Vancouver’s Linda Moore and Calgary’s Ed Lukowich.  Moore would go on to win a gold medal while Lukowich received a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, when curling was a demonstration sport.

For the 1992 Olympics in Albertville (Pralognan-la-Vanoise), France, rather than conduct a Trials competition, the CCA decided in advance that the winners of the 1991 Labatt Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts, ultimately Edmonton’s Kevin Martin and Victoria’s Julie Sutton, would represent Canada.   Martin finished fourth while Sutton won a bronze medal, when curling was still a demonstration sport.

In 1997, the Trials were held in Brandon, Manitoba and won by Toronto’s Mike Harris and Regina’s Sandra Schmirler.   Schmirler went on to win a gold medal at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano (Karuizawa), Japan while Harris earned a silver medal.

In 2001, the Trials were staged in Regina and won by Edmonton’s Kevin Martin and New Westminster’s Kelley Law.  Martin then earned a silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City (Ogden), Utah, while Law won a bronze medal.

At the 2005 Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials in Halifax, the Brad Gushue team of St. John’s, which was being skipped by Russ Howard, and Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary emerged victorious.   Gushue’s team won a gold medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin (Pinerolo), Italy, while Kleibrink earned a bronze medal.

At the 2008 Tim Hortons Brier in Winnipeg, it was announced that Edmonton would host the 2009 Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials Roar of the Rings, while Prince George, British Columbia would stage the Pre-Trials.   Four teams of each gender qualified directly into the Trials, while four others qualified out of the Pre-Trials.

Edmonton’s Kevin Martin and Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard won the 2009 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, earning the right to represent Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.   The total attendance in Edmonton of 175,852 eclipsed the former Trials mark of 159,235, set in Halifax in 2005.

TSN recorded its then-highest curling audience ever as 1.2 million viewers watched Kevin Martin defeat Glenn Howard to win the Trials final and qualify for 2010 Olympic Winter Games.  It was almost double the audience for the 2005 Trials men’s final (693,000).   The women’s final featuring Cheryl Bernard against Shannon Kleibrink attracted 832,000 viewers, well above the 2005 Trials women’s final audience of 559,000.  Overall, the average minute audience for the 2009 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings was 511,000.

Martin’s team subsequently captured an Olympic gold medal in Vancouver while going undefeated, beating Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud in the final, while Bernard’s foursome took home silver, losing the gold medal game in an extra end to Sweden’s Anette Norberg.

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