Brad Jacobs ended a 28-year drought for Northern Ontario at the Canadian men’s curling championship with his team’s decisive victory at last season’s Tim Hortons Brier.
Thunder Bay’s Al Hackner, better known as the “Ice Man”, accomplished the feat back in 1985, almost three months to the day before Jacobs’ birth. Hackner also won the Brier Tankard in 1982 and has two world championships on his competitive curling resume.
But Jacobs, playing out of the Soo Curlers Association in Sault Ste. Marie, has the opportunity to set a new standard of excellence in Northern Ontario curling history – by representing Canada at the 2014 Olympic Games.
Jacobs will be one of the early favourites in the 24-team field preparing to hit the ice at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex for the 2013 Capital One Road to the Roar, presented by Monsanto, with the final berths on the line for the upcoming Canadian Curling Trials in Winnipeg.
“Winning the Brier was pretty amazing… a dream come true,” said Jacobs. “It was a bit anti-climactic winning the way we did (11-4 over Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton in the final). You always picture yourself making the big shot in the last end and the crowd going wild. It wasn’t like that… but you know what, I’ll take it.”
The Jacobs team, with Ryan Fry at third and brothers E.J. and Ryan Harnden on the front end, came out of the hacks strong at the start of the season, winning their first two events on the World Curling Tour.
“We’ve played pretty well,” said Jacobs. “We started out this year like we finished last year. Lately our play has been a little less than we hoped for, but overall we feel pretty good.
“It’s nice to be able to take a week off before the Pre-Trials… stay at home, practice and sleep in our own beds,” said Jacobs. “We’ll be ready to go in Kitchener.”
Looking at the challenge that lies ahead on the road to Sochi, Jacobs knows there will be no easy games. “There’s a lot of tough teams, but that’s the same as every event we play in. We try not to focus on who we’re playing… our strategy for every game is to play as close as we can to 100 per cent at every position. If you can do that on a regular basis, you’re going to win a lot of games.”
One thing for sure, Jacobs is looking forward to the trip to Kitchener. “I had the chance to be there for the Oktoberfest parade. They have such great volunteers there for any event they’re involved in. If the Pre-Trials are anything like the parade, it’s going to be great… we really want to put on a show for the fans.”
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