The jewelry clerk didn’t shine in front of Olympic gold medalist Russ Howard

Nearly two decades after winning an Olympic gold medal, Russ Howard is on hand as a commentator for the 2021 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials in Saskatoon.

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This week, Canada’s top curlers hit the ice in Saskatoon to determine male and female reps at the 2022 Olympics. Russ Howard – 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist, Double Brier and World Champion, and Team Member TSN curling commentators – chatted with Postmedia’s Dave Deibert, discussing his hockey hero, the sounds of curling and the times a jewelry clerk didn’t want to help him clean his gold medal…

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Q: Have you ever worn your Olympic gold medal at the gas station or even just at home while drinking coffee?

A: (Laughs) No, but when we got home it was chaos. You go to banquets and awards ceremonies. Everyone touched the medal over and over again, every day. I went there with my daughter one day, I picked her up from school. I put on my old coat because I was shoveling the driveway. I looked like I had betrayed.

I said, ‘Let’s go to the jewelry store and see if they have some kind of spray or solution to protect the coin.’ I walked into this high-end – very high-end – much too high-end store. They looked me up and down. I couldn’t get service. After about 15-20 minutes of patiently waiting for someone to even give me the time of day, I said, “I was just wondering if there was any protection, spray or coating for the. gold. The lady said, ‘No.’

Another guy comes up and he recognizes me, and says, “Can I help you, Mr. Howard?” The same girl said, ‘You can’t put anything on gold. What are you trying to protect, anyway? ‘ OKAY. So, I took out the gold medal. She almost fell.

Q: Who in your TSN trio – you, Vic Rauter or Cheryl Bernard – has the most routines or quirks before going on air? Does Vic secretly hit three Red Bulls before the lights come on?

A: He doesn’t beat Red Bull, but the answer is Vic. He is an accomplished professional. He has a routine like you wouldn’t believe. That’s what makes it so good. You can pretty much set your clock on it. When we meet at 12 noon in the lobby, it really means 10 minutes at 12 noon

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Q: If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re late.

A: You take a taxi.

TSN commentators Vic Rauter, Cheryl Bernard and Russ Howard at the Tim Hortons Canadian Olympic Curling Trials at the SaskTel Center in Saskatoon on November 25, 2021.
TSN commentators Vic Rauter, Cheryl Bernard and Russ Howard at the Tim Hortons Canadian Olympic Curling Trials at the SaskTel Center in Saskatoon on November 25, 2021. Photo by Michelle Berg /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Q: According to a TSN poll a few years ago, the top four male curlers of all time, in order, are Kevin Martin, your brother Glenn Howard, Randy Ferbey and then you. Did the competitor in you say that # 4 wasn’t too bad or were you a little bored?

A: (Laughs) Politically, those are four correct answers. In competition it’s impossible to do (a list like that)… Each of these guys, at some point in their careers for a while, was the best.

Q: Since moving to Regina, how many times have you worn a watermelon on your head?

A: (Laughs) Fortunately, none so far. But I am a big fan of the Riders. No one believes me but I’ve been cheering on the Riders since day one. We didn’t have a team in the East. My best friend grew up in Saskatoon. In every CFL game, when we were on the road, he would say, “We have to watch the Riders. So I’ve been a fan of Rider for about 22 years.

Q: Name a day in your childhood that you would like to relive.

A: Wow. I was a little older but I got to meet my hockey hero: Bobby Orr.

About 20 years ago we came down to Moncton to participate in a celebrity golf tournament. He couldn’t hit the golf ball because he had his 19th knee surgery so he asked me to hit the tee shots on the par three and he was standing there and waving to all the different golfers that had paid to participate in the event.

The following year he was taking another course, but he asked me to go with him and do it again, which I found very pleasant.

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The third year I won the gold medal and it became a permanent thing. He and I stood on par 3 and for 10 hours a day, 15 years in a row, I was able to spend the whole day with Bobby. I still think the best hockey player who ever lived – and an even better gentleman.

Q: Agree or disagree: The curling soundtrack might sound a bit inappropriate.

A: (Laughs) Yeah, okay. It’s funny how you can misinterpret certain things.

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