While the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are five months away, the qualification process for curling at PyeongChang 2018 has already started.

From March 5 to 13, the 87th annual Brier, the men’s national championship, will take place in Ottawa. The winner of the tournament will then compete as Team Canada at the world championship in April in Switzerland. If they finish on the podium, they’ll qualify for the 2017 Canadian Curling Trials, also known as the Roar of the Rings.

This year, the Brier field will be full of talent, with 16 previous winners, 13 former world champions and nine Olympic gold medallists. Last year’s champions, Pat Simmons, Carter Rycroft and Nolan Thiessen will be seeking a third straight win, while John Morris is going for a second straight victory with the team.

Team Canada skip Pat Simmons, left to right, third John Morris, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen, alternate Tom Sallows, and coach Earl Morris, lift the Brier Tankard after defeating Northern Ontario to win the gold medal game at the Brier in Calgary on Sunday, March 8, 2015. (Photo: CP/Jeff McIntosh)

Team Canada skip Pat Simmons, left to right, third John Morris, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen, alternate Tom Sallows, and coach Earle Morris, lift the Brier Tankard after defeating Northern Ontario to win the gold medal game at the Brier in Calgary on Sunday, March 8, 2015. (Photo: CP/Jeff McIntosh)

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This will be the 13th appearance at the Brier for Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue. His first appearance was in 2003 and he has competed at every Brier since then, except for 2006, when he was otherwise occupied winning Olympic gold at Turin 2006. Remarkably, he is still looking for his first national title and is currently at the top of the rankings. Ontario’s Glen Howard is making his record 16th Brier appearance, which he has won four times.

BRAD GUSHUE/MARK NICOLS/JAMIE KORAB

Canada’s Brad Gushue, calls the sweep as Mark Nichols, left, from and Jamie Korab, right, sweep in curling action against Germany at the Turin 2006 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo: CP/Andrew Vaughan)

The nine Olympic gold medallists seeking a shot at competing at the Games again are Gushue, Mark Nichols (Team Newfoundland), John Morris (Team Canada), Mark Kennedy, Ben Hebert (Team Alberta), Brad Jacobs, Ryan Fry, E.J. Harnden, and Ryan Harnden (Team Northern Ontario). Rycroft of Team Canada won a silver medal at Salt Lake City 2002. Jacobs and company will be looking for the chance to go to PyeongChang to defend his team’s gold medal win at Sochi 2014.

Team Brad Jacobs

From left, Caleb Flaxey, Ryan Harnden, E. J. Harnden, Ryan Fry and Brad Jacobs jump up on the podium after Canada’s win over Great Britain 9-3 to win men’s gold medal curling at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. (Photo: CP/Mike Ridewood)

While only the winning team moves onto the Olympic Trials (pending reaching the podium at Worlds), other teams will have more chances to qualify, including next year’s Brier champion. Kevin Koe’s team has already qualified as the winners of the 2015 Canada Cup, and the 2016 winner of that event will also move onto Trials. Two teams qualify from the Curling Pre-Trials along with three teams based on CTRS Standings. If a team earns more than one berth, the spot will go to the highest unqualified team in the rankings.

Canada's gold medalists Adam Enright, left to right, Ben Hebert, Marc Kennedy, John Morris and Kevin Martin celebrate at the men's curling medal ceremony at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. (Photo: AP/Robert Bukaty)

Canada’s gold medalists Adam Enright, left to right, Ben Hebert, Marc Kennedy, John Morris and Kevin Martin celebrate at the men’s curling medal ceremony at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. (Photo: AP/Robert Bukaty)

There will be high expectations for the curling teams going to PyeongChang, since Canada has won a curling medal in every Games since the sport made its Olympic return at Nagano 1998.