The Whitehorse Curling Club was abuzz this weekend thanks to a visit from one of the world’s most decorated curlers of all time.
Kevin Martin — four-time Brier winner, Olympic gold medalist, World Champion, career Grand Slam winner and World Curling Hall of Famer — was in Whitehorse hosting a series of clinics for Yukon curlers from Oct. 5 to 7.
This was the third trip to the Yukon for Martin, who previously was in Whitehorse for a skins game in 1999 and a cash event in 2009.
Martin said the club in Whitehorse has a great facility.
“The club is gorgeous,” said Martin. “This is one of the nicest curling clubs in Canada because of all the hardwood and the ice conditions are fantastic. They’re pretty lucky, the curlers from here, because of the building.”
What impressed Martin, beyond the facility, was the sheer number of curlers — particularly youth curlers.
“I really like the amount of kids,” said Martin. “It’s a terrific amount of people. … It’s pretty exciting actually how many curlers there are — (it’s) very positive.”
Joining Martin on the ice during the clinics were a handful of local curlers, including 2018 Brier Team Yukon skip Thomas Scoffin who knows Martin from his time curling at the University of Alberta where Martin operates a store.
Asked if he had any tips for Scoffin, Martin laughed with his reply.
“Well I’m trying to help Thomas out,” said Martin. “We know each other very well.”
For his part, Scoffin said it’s “awesome” to share the ice with Martin.
“I mean Kevin is one of the legends of curling,” said Scoffin. “I grew up watching him, so it’s really cool to be able to share a sheet of ice with him now and to work with him and help the next generation … of curlers along with him is a privilege. It’s pretty special.”
Scoffin said it’s impossible to not pick up a tip or two being around Martin.
“He’s got so much experience and there is always something you can learn from Kevin,” said Scoffin. “Any chance I get to be around him, I’ll take it.”
With 10 clinics over two days, Martin said he didn’t have much time in the city to explore.
“I haven’t actually had a chance to do much touring, but we sure did back in ’99,” said Martin. “That was with (Don) Walchuk, Carter (Rycroft) and Don Barlett, and we travelled around and had a really good time because the skins game was only two games. We were here like five days and played two games, so we got to see the whole area and have a really good time.”
While Martin is kept busy most of the season between his work with Sportsnet in Canada and NBC in the United States, he said he tries to squeeze in a handful of weekends to run clinics like this one.
“Usually two or three, but this year four because the year after the Olympics is a bit of a slower year,” said Martin. “I’ve got more time this year so I’ve really got to enjoy it.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org