This week’s male Athlete of the Week is Brent Laing of Horseshoe Valley, Ontario.
Birthdate: Dec. 10, 1978
Birthplace: Meaford, Ont.
Hometown: Horseshoe Valley, Ont.
Curling Club: Coldwater & District Curling Club
Current Team: Glenn Howard
Getting to know Brent Laing
Brent Laing has managed the unique feat of having played for two of the greatest teams ever put together.
As a junior, the long-time second played for John Morris and claimed back-to-back Canadian and world junior championships — one of just three Canadian teams ever to pull off that feat, along with Paul Gowsell and Charlie Thomas — before going on to finish fourth at the 2001 Olympic Trials in Regina, and then second to Randy Ferbey at the 2002 Brier in Calgary.
A few years later, he and fellow front-ender Craig Savill joined forces with skip Glenn Howard and third Richard Hart, a unit that has become one of the most dominant teams on the planet ever since.
Among Laing’s highlights have been five straight Ontario men’s championships and playoff finishes at each of those Briers — runner-up in 2006 (to Jean-Michel Menard), 2008 (to Kevin Martin) and 2010 (to Kevin Koe), third place in 2009 and, to top it off, Brier and world championship victories in 2007.
As well, the Howard foursome has won six Grand Slam titles (Laing won a seventh, as a spare for Martin).
Along the way, Laing has earned first-team all-star honours at two Briers — 2006, 2010 — and was a second-team all-star in 2008.
The 2009-10 curling season was a frustrating one for Laing; after losing the final to Martin at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton, he had to watch Koe make a last-rock draw to bite the button and win the Brier final.
But the Howard team has come back strong in 2010-11, and earlier this month knocked off Martin in the final of the Canada Cup of Curling in Medicine Hat, Alta., to win the $25,000 top prize and earn berths in the 2011 Canada Cup in Cranbrook, B.C., and the 2012 Continental Cup in Langley, B.C.
Quick Hits with Brent Laing
Do you have any superstitions?
Three people, living or not, whom you would invite to a dinner party.
“Dave Matthews, Tiger Woods, Nelson Mandela.”
If you could be a star any other sport, what would it be, and why?
“Definitely golf, because in the tour stops are places like Maui, California, Arizona, Australia or New Zealand, and in curling they are . . . let’s just say, not quite so exotic. It doesn’t hurt that the purse in one of golf’s majors adds up to the entire season of World Curling Tour purses!”
If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why?
“I would really like to see curling go to the five-rock rule. It makes no sense to me that the team without last rock gets two free guards and the team with last rock only gets one? And I think the more rocks that are in play, the more exciting the game is for the fans. I think this would lead to more rocks in play and maybe even a few more comeback wins, which are always exciting to watch.
What music do you like to listen to before a game?
“Dave Matthews Band or Ray LaMontagne.”
— Website? “www.weedmancanada.com.”
— Order from Tim Hortons? “Whole grain bagel and whole grain raspberry muffin.”
— Vacation destination? “My favourite place is Costa Rica. Top destinations on my list of places to go: Alaska, Tanzania and Nepal.”
— Junk food? “Pizza.”
Do you have any pet peeves?
Three things you always travel with?
“iPod, noise-cancelling headphones, backpack.”
First thing on your Bucket List?
“See the Himalayas.”
Favourite pastime between draws at cashspiels? Cards (which game?), TV, napping?
One thing most people don’t know about you?
“I’m actually a nice guy?? ”
What is the biggest misconception about curlers?
“That we’re unfit, beer-bellied non-athletes. And to those people, I say, grab a broom and let’s see how long you last sweeping with the top player’s in the game.”
Your ideal shot to win an Olympic gold medal:
“Anything, because I don’t have to throw it! That’s why you don’t skip!”