A dream come true for Canada's latest curling Olympians

  • Team Canada Photo © WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik

Canada have an impressive haul when it comes to Olympic Winter Games curling medals and not only that, it's never been with the same team twice.

Canada women have won medals at every Games since curling returned to the Olympics in 1998. That year, in Nagano, Japan, Sandra Schmirler's team collected the gold medals and in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Kelley Law's foursome took home bronze.

Then, in Turin in 2006 Shannon Kleibrink and her team matched the bronze medals from four years earlier, while in 2010, in Vancouver, it was home Games silver for Cheryl Bernard and her team. Bernard will become a two-time Canadian curling Olympian in PyeongChang as the alternate for Rachel Homan's team and one of the first Canadians to achieve that feat.

Also, from the Canadian mixed doubles pairing at the Games, Kaitlyn Lawes will become a two-time Olympian having won gold under Jennifer Jones four years ago in Sochi. Her team mate John Morris - who played in Kevin Martin's gold medal winning team in 2010 - will achieve the same feat.

Similarly, in the men's game, Canada men have won gold at the last three Games - in Sochi 2014, Vancouver 2010 and Turin 2006 - and all under different skips.

Brad Jacobs' team won the gold medals in 2014, Martin and his quartet were champions in 2010 and Russ Howard in 2006, led Brad Gushue's team to Olympic gold. Martin, also collected silver at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and he is the only two-time Canadian Olympic curler so far.

That will change in 2018, with Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert - part of Kevin Koe's Olympic team - turning out for their second Games, having played in Martin's team in 2010 - along with Lawes, Morris and Bernard.

Though, there will be more Canadian curlers returning to the Games for a second time in PyeongChang, the general principle remains - that Canada will be seeking Olympic medals once again under brand new teams.

In the women's event skip Rachel Homan, will lead her current world champion team of third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney, lead Lisa Weagle and alternate Bernard, while 2016 world men's champion skip Kevin Koe will take charge of his team made up of third Kennedy, second Brent Laing, lead Hebert and alternate Scott Pfeifer.

Now, without further ado, lets meet the teams…

Team Canada (women): @TeamHoman

Q How does it feel qualifying for the Olympics?

Lisa Weagle: It's a dream come true! I have dreamed of being an Olympian since I started curling and it's incredible that it's really happened. It was especially meaningful winning the trials in our hometown of Ottawa, with so many family and friends in the stands cheering us on.

Emma Miskew: It feels truly amazing. You always dream of becoming an Olympian, but so few get to know what that feels like. We are so lucky we get to experience playing at the Olympics wearing the maple leaf.

Joanne Courtney: Knowing that I'll be an Olympian forever is an honour and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to represent my country and my sport in South Korea.

Rachel Homan: It really is the best feeling in the world. I feel like the luckiest person on the planet. We have worked so many years not knowing if it will ever be our time if things will fall into place and I can't believe we realised our lifelong goal.

Q What is your guilty pleasure?

Lisa: Binge watching shows on Netflix.

Emma: I love the Bachelor - I have viewing nights with lots of food and some wine! The drama is amazing.

Joanne: I love junk food of all varieties - candy, chocolate, chips etc… I love to have my treats in moderation.

Rachel: I do love a good bottle of wine.

Q What music do you listen to prior to events?

Lisa: I'm the team DJ, so I've got a lucky playlist ready for the drive to the rink. There's some Justin Bieber, Drake, Rihanna, among others. It gets everyone pumped up and ready to curl.

Emma: As a team we listen to a lot of hip hop and rap pre-game, but also a lot of country when we're just hanging out!

Joanna Courtney and Emma Miskew, pictured below, © WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik

Q Where's the best place you have visited as a curler?

Lisa: I feel very fortunate to have played across Canada in a lot of amazing places. I especially enjoy being in Victoria, Banff and St. John's.

Emma: I loved Flims, Switzerland. Our hotel was right in the mountains, it was beautiful. The first few days were foggy, so we didn't really know what the city looked like, so the first clear morning I walked onto the balcony in the hotel and the view literally took my breath away.

Joanne: Curling in Las Vegas was an unbelievable experience - it was great to have access to world-class dining and entertainment while surrounded by world-class curlers.

Rachel: I played in Victoria and love that city. I also loved traveling to Europe to beautiful cities, but playing in our home city in Ottawa, in front of fans and winning the Olympic trials will always be my favourite memory. Going to concerts (one that comes to mind is Tragically Hip's last Ottawa concert), hockey games etc... since I was young. I will never forget how fortunate I am to have been able to play where I have watched so many stars perform.

Q What career would you have if you weren't a curler?

Lisa: I work in communications for Sport Canada. I'm currently on a leave of absence to curl, but it's a really great job that has helped me to understand the sport system from a different perspective.

Emma: I'm a designer now, whenever I have time around my curling, so I would probably still be doing that!

Joanne: I would be a full-time nurse. I currently hold a casual nursing position and will eventually spend more time in that role.

Rachel: I would love to be a surgeon.

Q Who is the joker of the team and why?

Lisa: Everyone jokes around a lot, but some people are surprised to hear that Rachel is the joker of the team. She always finds a way to get us laughing.

Emma: Rachel's just witty and quick to pick up on things you were hoping no one would notice.

Rachel: I crack a few jokes from time to time and sometimes the girls laugh.

Q Who is the most serious member of the team and why?

Lisa: I think that's me - I'm a bit of an introvert and probably the quietest member of the team.

Joanne: We're all serious when it comes to improving our game individually and as a team. At the same time, we all enjoy each other when we're off the ice and like to have fun on the road.

Q Greatest achievement as a rink and tell us a bit about it.

Lisa: Winning the right to represent Canada at the Olympics was certainly one of our great achievements! I would also say winning 2017 World Women's Curling Championship and being the first women's team to go 13-0 was a huge accomplishment.

Emma: Winning the Olympic trials in Ottawa. Not only did we get to win in our hometown, but we finally achieved a dream we had been chasing since we were all kids. The crowd was amazing the whole week, so to win it in front of them felt surreal.

Rachel: It really is a dream come true to win the Olympic trials in your hometown it will always bring chills thinking about that week and the Sunday gold medal game.

Q What team do you have the most fun with on and off the sheet?

Rachel: Team Koe (Canada), they are a fun group of guys and there are always laughs.

Team Canada (men): @TeamKevinKoe

Q How does it feel qualifying for the Olympics?

Marc Kennedy: Incredibly satisfying! We put three and a half years of blood, sweat and tears into improving this team and to see it all pay-off is the most satisfying feeling in the world. Oh, and very excited for the adventure and journey that lies ahead!

Ben Hebert: It feels great, can't get any better than representing your country on the biggest stage!

Brent Laing: It feels like a dream come true and it doesn't feel real all at the same time!

Q Do you have nicknames within the team and what's the story behind them?

Marc: Kevin Koe's nickname is The Koo because it's easier to say than Koe. He's also known as the Ninja because he's quiet and deadly. Brent's nickname is Lainger - very straightforward. Benny is known by many names - Heebz, The Beef, and The Cat are his most notable ones. Where they came from? Couldn't even tell you!

Q What is your guilty pleasure?

Marc: I love chocolate a bit too much...and superhero movies.

Brent: I love a blizzard from Dairy Queen and pizza from pretty much anywhere, but our coach makes the best pizza I have ever had in his wood fired oven in his back yard!

Q What music do you listen to prior to events?

Marc: Country music mostly. Old stuff, new stuff, doesn't matter.

Ben: Anything, but Marc is normally the DJ in front seat so country it is!

Brent: I don't really listen to much pump-up music before games or anything. Just being around Benny gives me all the pump-up energy I need before a game.

Q Where's the best place you have visited as a curler?

Brent: I absolutely love Switzerland and one day would love to spend an extended amount of time there and maybe even do some curling camps and coaching there. Japan is also one of my favourite places I've ever curled. We had an amazing trip to Kaurizawa a couple of years ago with this team. We are super excited to be staying there before the Olympics.

Q What career would you have if you weren't a curler?

Marc: I would probably be a real estate agent. E-mail me for all your housing needs!

Ben: Same one I have now…Business Development at Caltech Surveys!

Brent: My dream career is definitely being a PGA Tour golfer. More realistically though, an entrepreneur with World Financial Group as they seem to be the happiest people in the world.

Q Who is the joker of the team and why?

Marc: Ben, because he always says what's on his mind, even if it's not politically correct.

Ben: Likely me…All the boys are funny, but I try to keep it light and not too serious all the time.

Brent: Benny [pictured middle above, © WCF / Céline Stucki] for sure. Because you can't even really look at Benny without laughing!

Q Who is the most serious member of the team and why?

Marc: Probably me. Cause I'm kind of the fun police on our team. One might call me a buzzkill

Ben: Marc Kennedy… His nickname is Dad! Takes care of all of us. We need it!

Brent: Probably Kevin - we call him the silent assassin!

Q What do you do in your spare time to relax?

Marc: I love to watch movies...and nap.

Ben: Lainger and I normally have a series on Netflix we kill time on.

Brent: The 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay in Ontario is my absolute favourite place in the world and we spend as much family time there as we can in the summer.

Q Greatest achievement as a rink and tell us a bit about it.

Marc: Taking four very good curlers and moulding them into a great team! We have four very different personalities and often have four different philosophies. But we put our egos aside for the betterment of the team and it paid off in Ottawa at the trials.

Ben: That was our goal four years ago, and for it to all work out for us after all the planning, prep and hard work we are a happy bunch.

Brent: This team was put together to win that event and everything we have planned and worked on was to achieve that goal. Runner up would have to be winning the 2016 Brier and then the world championship!

Q What team do you have the most fun with on and off the sheet?

Marc: Definitely Team Jacobs (Canada). Great guys.

Ben: Those are some funny guys and we all have mutual respect on and off the ice We have had some laughs over the years!

In the run-up to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea we celebrate the success of the curling qualifiers heading to the Games next week (8-25 February) and in (9-18) March.

In recent weeks and months, we have been speaking to the athletes that have been selected or qualified to represent their Member Association in the Gangneung Curling Centre.

To follow the build-up to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #Roadto2018 #curling

by Michael Houston, feature writer