A man of many hats at the Beijing Games, curler Marc Kennedy will transition to yet another position as the Canadian men’s team prepares to begin play.
His new title could even lead to a little game action for one of the sport’s top thirds.
After a run as mixed doubles assistant coach for Rachel Homan and John Morris, Kennedy will serve as alternate for Brad Gushue’s team starting Wednesday.
“I feel fortunate, pretty humbled and honoured to be asked by Team Gushue obviously to be a part of that,” Kennedy said. “And to be able to come here and to help two friends in kind of a support role – which is a little bit different for me – it feels good.”
Kennedy flew to China earlier than planned to be a mixed doubles backup. Once play started at the Ice Cube, he joined coach Scott Pfeifer on the bench.
Morris and Homan just missed the playoff cut with a 5-4 record, with an extra-end 8-7 loss to Italy in Monday’s round-robin finale sealing the team’s fate.
Alternate players are not used in mixed doubles. Once an official roster is submitted before the start of competition, the two players named to a team cannot be changed.
For the men’s team event, the 40-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., will need to be ready in case he’s needed as a substitute.
A fifth may also see action in a lopsided game if a player is rested or to give the alternate a taste of in-game action. Game preparation, rock matching and team support are among the alternate’s duties.
“I think of all the people over the years that have supported my teams and myself to get to where we got to,” Kennedy said in a recent interview. “The behind-the-scenes stuff that nobody sees.
“And to be able to do that for some other athletes for once, it’s a good feeling because I’ve got lots to give back because lots of people have given to me.”
Gushue opens round-robin play against Denmark. The Canadian women’s team skipped by Jennifer Jones begins play Thursday against South Korea.
Kennedy joined Gushue’s team for a training camp in Abbotsford, B.C., before the Games. He said the squad worked him into several game-like situations just in case he’s needed.
Upon arrival in Beijing, Kennedy sent the players some e-mails and pictures to try to help them prepare.
“Just looking for ways that I can help them settle in as quickly as possible,” he said.
Lisa Weagle also flew to Beijing earlier than first planned to be the other mixed doubles backup. She’s a member of Jones’s five-player rink but is listed as an alternate for women’s team play at the Games.
Kennedy won Olympic gold with skip Kevin Martin at the 2010 Vancouver Games. He missed the podium with skip Kevin Koe at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Kennedy nearly qualified for Beijing as a third for Team Brad Jacobs. They fell in the final of Canada’s Olympic trials to Gushue’s rink last November in Saskatoon.
“Once we lost the Olympic trials, I’m cheering for Canada,” Kennedy said.
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