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Curling high continues in DC

Sport enjoying increased popularity after 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

Curling is suddenly cool and Canadian curlers are enjoying rock star status.

After Canadian curlers won silver and gold medals at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, the sport is getting a lot more attention. New fans are flocking to venues to watch the popular Canadian winter sport, and clubs across the country are fielding enquiries from prospective players interested in taking up the sport.

"We are all pretty proud of what we accomplished, but the biggest thing we've noticed is the effect it's had on people. We have been to London, Ont., and Halifax and Toronto and we have new curling fans and people who have never watched it before and we are hoping the sport can build off that," said Marc Kennedy, Kevin Martin's second.

Martin's rink won the gold medal in the Olympic championship match over Norway, while fellow Canadian Olympian Cheryl Bernard took silver.

But gold, silver, or bronze, it all helped Canada's Olympic medal total and raised the profile of a sport that has to compete with hockey and figure skating for fan support in this country.

"It has been unbelievable, really. We didn't realize until we came out of the curling bubble, the exposure that curling received during the two weeks of the Olympics. It has been pretty hard to go very many places now without someone coming up and congratulating us," said Bernard.

But it's not just Canada that is seeing an increased interest in the sport.

Bernard has received emails from throughout the U.S. and as far away as Australia and Brazil as people enquire about the sport, and the Asian and central European countries are always looking to knock Canada off its perch atop the curling world.

Same for the men's rinks.

"A few days after my wife said 'what have you done with our lives'. It has been incredible, I don't even know how to describe it," laughed Martin.

The television coverage at the Olympics certainly helped, pointed out Bernard, but the sport is unique too in that the athletes have microphones on and that adds to the drama of the game.

The Olympic high is expected to continue when the Martin and Bernard rinks travel to Dawson Creek to play in the season-ending Grey Power Players' Championship. The final 2009-10 Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event, the Grey Power Players' Championships, begins today at the EnCana Events Centre.

Fans will see some top-notch curlers and be able to brush shoulders with the likes of Martin and Bernard."We want to get up there and show then the medal and have them come out to the event and keep riding this Olympic high," said Kennedy.