Gushue first to qualify for Tim Hortons Brier
2006 Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue will make his eighth appearance at the Canadian men’s curling championship when the Tim Hortons Brier gets underway March 5 at the John Labatt Centre in London. The 30-year-old Gushue successfully defended his Newfoundland/Labrador title by winning the Labatt Tankard at the Re/Max Centre in St. John’s on February 5, defeating Alex Smith, 7-1 in a seven-end final. Since Gushue went 5-0 in the round robin, he would have had to be beaten twice to lose his crown, but he finished off Smith in the first game.His team consists of third Mark Nichols, second Ryan Fry and new lead Jamie Danbrook. Nichols has teamed with Gushue for over a decade, while Fry joined them in 2009. Danbrook is a former provincial junior champion (BC in 2005 and 2008, PEI in 2009) who was a member of Brett Gallant’s Canadian junior champion and world silver medallist team in 2009. Gushue’s first Brier appearance 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, 2009 in Calgary, when losing the Page 3-4 game to Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton and last year in Halifax, when he also lost the Page 3-4 game to eventual champion Kevin Koe of Edmonton. 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 also collaborated to win the 2001 Canadian and world junior men’s championships. Fry will be making his four Brier appearance, after debuting as third for Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton in 2007, losing the semi-final to Ontario’s Glenn Howard, followed by appearances with Gushue the last two years as second. Newfoundland has one Brier win to its credit, that in 1976 by Jack MacDuff in Regina.