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MQFT with Geoff Walker

This week, John sits down with Geoff Walker, lead for Team Gushue, one of the greatest stories curling has ever told, as they captured their hometown Brier in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Geoff is also a former two-time World Junior champion, six-time Grand Slam champion, and has appeared in six Briers.

Welcome to Magical Question Fun Time, the Curling Canada feature in which comedian John Cullen sits down with your favourite curlers for interviews like you have never seen. Each interview will feature eight questions: five standard questions that will be asked to each curler, two questions specific to that curler, and one question that the curler interviewed before them asks.

“Being injured and not being able to sweep sucked, but I wouldn’t change that for anything,” says NL lead Geoff Walker, seen here watching the last rock come to rest as skip Brad Gushue celebrates the winning shot of the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier in St. John’s (Curling Canada/Jeffrey Au photo)

1. What’s the nicest shot you’ve ever been a part of?

Geoff Walker: I’ve been lucky to be a part of a lot of great shots, but it would have to be Brad’s shot against Kevin Koe at the Brier last year (Watch here). I mean, any time a curling shot gets retired on TSN’s 1v1, that has to be it, right? I don’t think I even laid one lick to it with the broom, but I still feel a part of it. [laughs]

John Cullen: Hey man, you were wearing the same jersey as the guy who threw it, that’s all that matters. [laughs]

GW: Exactly. For one I was really involved in, I remember when we played Steve Laycock at the Slam in Yorkton—I want to say it was three years ago—we had to draw the side of the button for the win, and we made it (Watch here). That one I was a big part of, and was pretty impressive.

JC: I remember both of those shots, and they were awesome, though you were a part of a shot two weeks ago (Watch here) that I’m surprised you didn’t mention. Although I guess you weren’t exactly a part of it. [laughs]

GW: Yeah, that’s the worst shot I’ve ever been a part of. [laughs] No, I’m just kidding. Obviously being injured and not being able to sweep sucked, but I wouldn’t change that for anything.

2. Who could you take in a fight?

GW: I have to go with my teammate, Brett Gallant. The reason is because I’ve seen him try to get a massage, and he’s a sensitive boy, that Brett. [laughs]

JC: [laughs] When I interviewed Brad, he said Brett as well, so you must be on to something.

GW: We had our massage therapist and physio at the Brier with us because obviously both Brad and I have had some injury issues. So Brett decided that even though he wasn’t injured, he should get some work done about halfway through the Brier, and he was SQUEALING. His pain tolerance is incredibly low. And he hates blood, too. If we’re watching TV or a movie and there’s blood, he’s squirming.

JC: So if you get the first punch in, both the pain and the potential blood will end it for him.

GW: Exactly.

JC: I’ve known you for a long time, you’re a great and gentle guy, but you did grow up in Grande Prairie, so certainly you know how to fight. Not sure how much of that they do in PEI.

GW: Yeah, we’ve been trying to get Meat and Potatoes to stick as our nickname, but people aren’t quite buying into it. I’m from the meat capital of Canada in Alberta, and Brett grew up with all the potatoes in PEI.

JC: I love that. I’m printing it. Hopefully this article will spur people on to call you that.

GW: Thank you. We want it bad. [laughs]

Meat and Potatoes, aka Geoff Walker and Brett Gallant (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

3. Now, I’m going to eschew my normal No. 3 question in favor of my new segment, Lead 2 Lead. This is where I get to ask my favourite leads the hard-hitting questions. I started it with Colin Hodgson, let’s get it going with you. Here we go!

Which lead would make the best skip?

GW: I’m gonna go with Denni Neufeld. He’s really solid whenever we play him, he’s a tough guy to outshoot, and he’s a tucker. How many leads are tuckers? He should be playing a different position.

JC: [laughs] That’s true. I have a rule I’d like to see implemented that any front-end player is not allowed to use a corn broom. Crutch, okay fine. But corn broom? Not for me.

GW: [laughs] I totally agree. You can’t ban the crutch, otherwise some guys would have to quit. [laughs] But corn brooms, get rid of ‘em.

JC: Which lead would make the worst skip?

GW: Probably a lot of us. [laughs] There’s a lot of people I could start a battle with, but I’m going to go with Benny Hebert. I know Colin said he’d be the best, but do you really want your skip being a guy who can only slide to the T-line and throw one turn? [laughs]

JC: [laughs] Very true. I think Colin thought more that Benny gets involved with strategy a lot, that he might be a good fit that way.

GW: Yeah, he can talk the talk, but he’s not the one throwing it. [laughs] Though J-M Menard can only throw one turn and he skips amazingly well, so who am I to judge? [laughs]

JC: Which lead has the best style?

GW: Wow, there’s not a lot of great style out there, that’s for sure. I’m coming out of left field and I’m gonna go with Sofia Mabergs from Team Hasselborg. She’s bad-ass with those tattoos on her arm, and she’s a great sweeper and thrower.

Sofia Mabergs of Team Hasselborg (WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik photo)

JC: I like it. That’s the first woman we’ve had answered, and I think she is awesome also. And lastly, you were obviously injured at the Brier. If it got so bad that you had to come out of the game, which lead would you most want to replace you?

GW: Nolan Thiessen. I hear he’s available. [laughs] Plus, he’s swept rocks to the button twice to win a Brier, so that’s a guy you’d like to have around.

4. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

GW: I’ve been lucky, I’ve never really had a job I absolutely hated. Probably the worst one was cleaning carpets. I was covering for a buddy for a couple weeks at a carpet cleaning company in Alberta, and it was a pretty tough job. You don’t really think about it, but you wear the thing on your back, you gotta pull the vacuum back and forth, it was really hard on my back and not super enjoyable.

JC: That doesn’t sound great. Was it ever weird to go in people’s houses? I had a job performing at birthdays for a while, and it always felt SUPER weird going into where people lived.

GW: Yeah, that was always weird for sure, but that reminds me of a funny story. So my first day on the job, I had no idea where we were going, and I just wore this old Molson Canadian t-shirt I got out of a case of beer. Sure enough, the first place we have to go clean is Alcoholics Anonymous. I felt like the biggest idiot in the world, walking around this rehab place wearing a beer T-shirt. [laughs]

JC: [laughs] Oh my gosh. That’s unbelievable. I mean, not your fault at all, but still.

GW: Yeah, it was pretty embarrassing.

5. What’s a stupid thing you incorrectly believed was true for a long time?

GW: I think probably that video games actually fried your brain. When I was a kid, of course my parents didn’t want me to have video games, so they told me that they fried your brain. I think most kids probably don’t believe it, but I was on board. My friends had the systems, and I would play occasionally, but usually I would just tell them they needed to stop playing or their brains were gonna be fried. [laughs]

6. Now we are into the Geoff Walker material, and of course, I am friends with your fiancée, Laura Crocker (third for Team Rocque), and she had lots to contribute. You guys play mixed doubles together, which is always asking for trouble, but she wanted me to ask you about the time you said, “are you sure?” to her when she was calling line on a shot.

GW: Did that only happen one time? [laughs]

Geoff Walker and Laura Crocker discuss a shot during the semifinal of the 2016 Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship in Saskatoon, Sask. (Curling Canada photo)

JC: [laughs] Well, I mean. That’s all she said, but it’s not hard to believe it might’ve been more.

GW: I’ve probably done it more than once, I’m glad she only heard it one time. [laughs] We have definitely talked about this. Sometimes you play at rinks with 4-foot lines, so you can do a bit of line judging from above the rock. Even playing with Brad, you usually know if it’s close, or if you might need to make it curl a bit. I think there was a shot where I thought it was wider than it was, she said “Hard!”, I said “Are you sure?” instead of sweeping it, and I probably should’ve just kept my mouth shut. [laughs]

JC: [laughs] I would think so. Happy wife, happy life.

GW: Absolutely. It was a good test for us to play mixed doubles together, and I guess we passed, since we are engaged now. We don’t have a choice. [laughs]

7. I have also heard that you are obsessed with grass, and growing grass. I’m imagining a ton of my readers also love grass. Can you share some tips for how you get it growing?

GW: [laughs] I do love grass. It’s simple, a lot of fertilizer, a lot of water, that’s all you need. Working at the golf course, I get access to professional fertilizer, and that’s the key. The stuff in the stores is worth nothing. And you can’t be afraid to get water down.

JC: I’ve heard you are definitely NOT afraid to get water down, in that your future wife is very concerned when you spend hours either watering the lawn by hand, or taking forever to place the sprinkler properly.

GW: That’s exactly right. Can’t let that water get in the wrong spots. [laughs] Another tip is to keep your lawn fairly high. You gotta be prepared to cut it more often, but if you keep it nice and high, that keeps the diseases out. And cut it in straight lines.

JC: It sounds like you take this very seriously.

GW: I have the best yard on the block. [laughs]

JC: Do you ever get mad when you see other people not taking care of their lawns at all?

GW: Well it’s funny, I live in St. John’s for the winter, obviously, and the place we rent, they don’t take care of the lawn at all. So after the summer is over and I go back to St. John’s, the lawn is just a mess. It’s all weeds. It drives me nuts, I can’t wait for the snow to fall so I don’t have to look at it. [laughs]

8. This question comes in from Tyler Tardi, and he asks, what’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?

GW: Those guys just got back from Korea, so that’s probably why he asked the question. I’ve been over there three times. The first time we went was in juniors, and we didn’t get too crazy. We were kids, we were picky. You’re also playing in a championship, so you want to make sure your stomach is looked after. The first time I went over with Brad, we had octopus, and that’s probably the strangest thing. What they do is they take the raw octopus and they bring it out on a stick, blowtorch it, and then it goes down the hatch.

JC: That sounds intense.

GW: They brought them out and you just knew we were all going to end up having one. So I noticed the first one the guy blowtorched was pretty small, so I just volunteered to go first. It doesn’t have too much flavour, but the texture is brutal.

JC: Who had the worst one?

GW: Brett, for sure. Mark and I went first, and then they brought two more out, and Brad’s a veteran, so he jumped in and took the smaller one. Brett was left with this huge, gross one. He wasn’t too happy, but we had all done it, so he knew he had to do it too. It’s the same as when your friends force you to do a gross shot at a bar. If everyone else has done it, you have to as well.

JC: Awesome, thanks Geoff! I’m not 100 per cent sure who I’m interviewing next yet, but I have a pretty good idea, so I’ll grab a question from you once it is confirmed. Best of luck at Worlds and for the rest of the season!

As always, you can follow John on twitter @cullenthecurler and you can follow Geoff @gwalker71.

Geoff Walker and Brett Gallant with Team Gushue teammate Mark Nicholls in action at the 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup in Brandon, Man. (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)