Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue will make his seventh appearance at the Canadian men’s curling championship when the Tim Hortons Brier gets underway, March 6 at the Metro Centre in Halifax.
The 29-year-old Gushue successfully defended his Newfoundland and Labrador title by winning the Labatt Tankard in St. John’s on Sunday, February 7 at his home Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club, defeating clubmate Alex Smith, 8-2 in a final that only went six ends. He’s the first skip to qualify for this year’s Brier.
His team of third Mark Nichols, second Ryan Fry and lead Jamie Korab went 8-1 overall, losing only to Matt Blandford, 8-7 during the nine-team round robin.
Coincidentally, Gushue’s first Brier appearance also came in Halifax in 2003, followed by 2004, 2005, 2007 (his best finish yet, when second to Ontario’s Glenn Howard in Hamilton, losing the final, 10-6), 2008 and 2009 in Calgary, when he lost the Page 3-4 game to Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton.
Nichols was a member of those Brier teams, as well as the Olympic gold medal-winning one in Pinerolo, Italy in 2006, when Canada defeated Finland (skip Markku Uusipaavalniemi) 10-4 in the final. Gushue and Nichols collaborated to win the 2001 Canadian and world junior men’s championships as well.
Fry, who joined the team last year, will be making his third Brier appearance, after debuting as third for Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton in 2007, when losing the semi-final to Ontario’s Glenn Howard.
Korab rejoined the Gushue team last season after a year’s absence and will be making his sixth Brier appearance. He’s also an Olympic gold medal winner and played with Gushue in his first four Briers, in addition to last year.
Newfoundland has one Brier win to its credit, that in 1976 by Jack MacDuff in Regina.