A legend in curling as both a broadcaster and an athlete for decades, Russ Howard can now check ‘Saskatchewan Curling Tour Finalist Skip’ off his list of accomplishments.
Howard took the reins of the Steve Howard team this weekend, skipping the rink all the way to the final at the Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre before falling 6-2 in the final.
Playing seven matches in a weekend took a physical toll on the Canadian National Sports Hall of Famer, but he still had that competitive fire.
“I took ten years off from competitive curling” said Howard. “I play ten games a year or five games a year depending on what year it is. I’m just kind of a club curler now. But if I get a chance to play the top teams, let me at it. I’ve still got the fire. I’ve got a bad knee so they only use me sparingly. My concern was playing that many games. I play Tuesday night once in a while and I can play really well, but if you string six or seven games together… so far it worked pretty good.”
Howard, who now lives in Regina, has a daughter Ashley who is the executive director of Curl Sask.
Russ Howard won the Brier twice (1987 and 1993), and has competed in the Brier eight times. He was also part of the Brad Gushue rink that won the Canadian Olympic trials in 2005 and then the gold medal in Turin in 2006.
It's a rare treat in the pandemic era to have a meaningful competitive event go off without a hitch, and Howard feels for those ultra-competitive athletes who have been in limbo for over half a year.
“Can you imagine being Kerri Einarson, she wins her Canadian championship, they put the Maple Leaf on her back and then she goes home and the season’s over,” Howard said. “Or Gushue again, for his third chance. All our top teams are trying to gear up for the Olympic trials. That’s the big one, and the Brier this year, if we have it. Yeah, it’s got to be tough. I can’t imagine when I played. I was a golf pro and when the season ended, I was curling. And now you can’t curl sometimes.”