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Team Gushue looks to build on high ranking

If you were to ask most curling fans who the top three men’s teams in the world are, many might be able to guess two out of three — Olympic champion Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) and Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen have been ranked first and second on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit, respectively, for what seems like an eternity.

Brad Gushue is looking to defend his title this weekend in Gatineau, Que. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

Brad Gushue is looking to defend his title this weekend in Gatineau, Que. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

But who’s No. 3?

While you’d probably get a variety of guesses ranging from Kevin Koe to Thomas Uslrud to Niklas Edin to John Morris, very few might probably guess the correct answer: Brad Gushue.

Gushue and the rest of his St. John’s squad (Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker) have been sitting in the third spot for more than a month now, and this weekend in Gatineau, Que., they look to climb closer to the top.

Although, the Newfs currently sit seventh on this year’s all-important Canadian Team Ranking System, their two-year total puts them higher on the world ranks. And as defending champions of the Challenge Chateau Carter de Gatineau, one would have to believe they’re entering the weekend with added confidence.

Standing in their way of back-to-back titles, and a big chunk of $42,000 is a star-studded field, including the aforementioned McEwen, Toronto’s John Epping, Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers, Charlottetown’s Adam Casey, Scotland’s David Murdoch and Sweden’s Edin. All told, there are seven provinces and six countries represented in the 32-team field.

Elsewhere, the women’s tour is picking up where the men left off: Portage la Prairie, Man. Thirty-two women’s team are playing for $60,000 Canad Inns Women’s Classic purse, where McEwen won the men’s title just last week.

Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones highlights the field that also includes Edmonton’s Val Sweeting, Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson and relocated Winnipeger Chelsea Carey. Carey, originally from Winnipeg, moved to Alberta this year to form a new team. This will mark her first  competitive return to her home province, in search of some desperately needed CTRS points.

Although she’s already punched her ticket to the first Grand Slam of the season, the Masters of Curling in Selkirk, Man., at this point Carey is sitting on the outside of the top 10 on CTRS by less than a point, and outside of the top-15 on the Order of Merit list, which on the bubble for future Slams. While the field in Portage la Prairie doesn’t feature enough top teams for maximum points, there is still an opportunity to gain some serious ground in both rankings.

Elsewhere, there is a new Alberta-based event happening on the women’s tour. The Crestwood Ladies Fall Classic in Edmonton sports a 20-team field, fighting for $11,000 in prizes.

There’s a men’s event in Airdrie, Alta. (the McKee Homes Fall Classic), and another in Moose Jaw, Sask.

Meanwhile, across the pond, New Brunswick’s James Grattan looks to defend his title at Champery, Switzerland’s Curling Masters Event.

For scores from WCT events, keep checking www.curling.ca/scoreboard throughout the weekend. Additionally, you can check curlsask.ca/scoreboard for results from Saskatchewan events, as well as curling.ca/ocascores for scores from Travelers Curling Club Ontario zone playdowns.

About Brian Chick

Brian Chick is a life-long curler and coach, and a frequent contributor to the Curling Canada's multimedia and development projects.