Road To The Olympic Games

Kevin Martin makes adjustments ahead of Continental Cup

Canadian skip Kevin Howard plans to make some adjustments due to recent surgery at the Continental Cup of Curling, which starts Thursday and runs through the weekend in Penticton, B.C.

Edmonton skip underwent hernia surgery last month

Kevin Martin, right, and longtime rival Glenn Howard, will get a chance to join forces under the Continental Cup format. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Kevin Martin's draw weight is not usually a problem.

But the defending Brier champion plans to make some adjustments at the World Financial Group Continental Cup of Curling, which starts Thursday and runs through the weekend in Penticton, B.C.

"I can't throw [the rock] real hard," said Martin, who will return to the ice after being sidelined in mid-December with hernia surgery. "But, otherwise, I feel tremendous. My hip hasn't felt this good in years."

The 46-year-old Edmonton skip is among some of the world's top men's and women's curlers assembled for the unique competition that pits a Canadian and American squad — Team North America — against Europeans in a format similar to golf's Ryder Cup.

Events include traditional men's and women's team matches as well as doubles, singles and skins competitions. While events are the same as in past years, the scoring system has changed. The two sides will compete for a maximum of 60 points, with the first team to reach 30.5 declared the winner.

Last year, Team Europe prevailed 235-165 in Langley, B.C, had 400 points available. The series, which began in 2002 but has not been played every year, is tied 2-2.

"I really like this format," said Martin, who expects to compete in a traditional men's match as well as men's doubles, adding it's entertaining for the fans.

Team North America's lineup includes reigning world champion Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., who competed in last year, and U.S. champion Heath McCormick.

Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, Niklas Edin of Sweden and Tom Brewster of Scotland head the European men's contingent.

Martin, the 2010 Olympic gold medallist, is looking forward to facing Uhlsrud after beating him in the final at the Vancouver Games.

On the women's side Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones, a four-time Canadian champion who won a world title in 2008, will also return to the ice after taking time off to deliver her first child in November. Jones' rink will be joined on the North American team by Edmonton's Heather Nedohin, who finished third at last year's worlds, and American Allison Pottinger.

Reigning women's Mirjam Ott of Switzerland, silver medallist Margaretha Sigfridsson of Sweden, Eve Muirhead of Scotland lead Europe's women's entry.

"This is going to be a tough time," said Martin. "The European team, all six (skips) are very strong."

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