BJ Neufeld and the rest of his teammates with Mike McEwen’s Winnipeg-based quartet entered the 2011-12 curling season with high expectations, and you could hardly blame them.
The team topped the country in money earnings on the Asham World Curling Tour last season, claiming a pair of Grand Slam victories — the Grey Power World Cup of Curling in Windsor, Ont., and the BDO Canadian Open in Oshawa, Ont.
The squad also finished second on the Canadian Team Ranking System to book its spot in the Capital One Canada Cup of Curling, beginning Nov. 30 in Cranbrook, B.C.
It was a splendid season for vice-skip Neufeld and his mates (the team is rounded out by second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld, BJ’s older brother), and the new year is already off to a rousing start, with their victory over Kevin Martin of Edmonton in the Point Optical Classic in Saskatoon on Monday, capping an unbeaten run through the cashspiel.
Neufeld comes by his curling prowess honestly; his dad, Chris, was Vic Peters’ long-time second, winning a Brier in 1992, and he now coaches the McEwen team, which has finished second in the past two Safeway Select Manitoba provincial championships.
BJ, though, has three previous Manitoba jackets, having won provincial junior titles in 2004 and 2005 with skip Daley Peters (yes, Vic’s son) and in 2007 with skip Andrew Irving.
Hometown: Gimli, Man.
Curling Club: Fort Rouge
Current Team: Team McEwen
Quick Hits with BJ Neufeld
Do you have any superstitions?
“If things are going well, I might neglect to shave, or our team will sometimes wear the same on-ice shirt until we lose a game.”
Three people, living or not, whom you would invite to a dinner party.
“Tiger Woods, Dan Marino, my dad.”
If you could be a star any other sport, what would it be, and why?
“I would be a golfer on the PGA Tour. I would love to play the best golf courses in the world and get paid to do so.”
If you could change any rule in curling, which one would it be, and why?
“I would change all events to thinking time (with the clocks not running while the rock is in motion).”
What music, if any, do you like to listen to before a game?
“I don’t really listen to music before games but if I did I would probably listen to Eminem.”
— Website? “tsn.ca.”
— Order from Tim Hortons? “Large coffee, one cream.”
— Vacation destination? “Pebble Beach.”
— Junk food? “Mint chocolate chip ice cream.”
Do you have any pet peeves?
“Bad drivers and people who are oblivious to what’s going on around them.”
Person who had the most influence on your curling career. And why?
“My dad (Chris). He was the one who introduced me into curling, and watching him and Vic Peters win the Brier in 1992 was a special moment. Shortly after that I decided that I wanted to curl and win a Brier in the future.”
First thing on your Bucket List?
“Win an Olympic gold medal.”
Favourite pastime between draws at cashspiels?
“Eating, TV, then napping.”
Mixed doubles in the Olympics — thumbs up? Thumbs down? And why?
“Thumbs down. I just think it’s not true curling; too hectic and not really the best conditions for shot-making, which is what makes the game today exciting.”
One thing most people don’t know about you?
“I have three hole-in-ones. Two of them were a week apart.”
Your ideal shot to win an Olympic gold medal:
“Draw to the button; it would be stressful but a pretty cool way to win.”