Cold mornings tossing stones down the sheets of the Inuvik Curling Club can produce Olympic dreams.
That reality may indeed come to pass for the most decorated curler to ever come out of the NWT.
Kevin Koe began his journey on Dec. 2 to do the only thing he has yet to do in his curling career: represent Canada at the Winter Olympics. To do that, Koe and his rink of Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing and Ben Hebert, are playing at the Roar of the Rings Canadian Olympic Curling Trials in Ottawa. It’s a journey which, if successful, will potentially take him 10,000-km to PyeongChang, South Korea and the possibility of an Olympic gold medal as Team Canada.
“The opportunity to represent your country is every curlers dream (and) it’s basically what we all play for.” said Koe.
Koe, a two-time World Champion, has competed for an Olympic berth on three previous occasions: 2005, 2009 and 2013, missing the playoffs in all but 2005 when he was playing third for John Morris.
“In the past, we have not performed well at this event, but this is a different team and we have been preparing for this for three years,” said Koe.
Koe’s commitment to his Olympic dream was made very evident in 2014 after he walked away from his 2014 Alberta team immediately after winning the Canadian men’s national championship at the Tim Hortons Brier and with it, an automatic berth into the following season’s Brier as Team Canada. Koe felt he wanted to go a different direction and shocked the curling world and formed a new team loaded with Canadian, World and Olympic champions who were all focused on winning Olympic gold in 2018.
“I made this decision before we won and I am going to stick with it,” said Koe at the time of the move.
Koe’s new team quickly perched themselves atop the Canadian rankings and qualified first for the Olympic trials by winning the 2015 Canada Cup, which gave Koe an automatic berth in the 10-team field.
“That was our goal when we formed this team”, said Koe after winning the Canada Cup. “Now we have to keep working and preparing if want to move on to Korea.”
They followed up on the Canada Cup win with victories at the Brier and World Men’s Championship in 2016 and a silver medal at the 2017 Brier.
Koe is regarded as one of the best curlers on the planet by most experts. However, he is up against a championship field in the nation’s capital
“This may very well be the best field ever assembled,” said Koe about his competition at the Roar of the Rings. “If you don’t play your best you will be outside looking in.”
Koe began the event in the opening draw against Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan, who qualified for the event based on cumulative points under the Canadian Team Ranking System.