This week, John sits down with a man who has had one the best curling seasons in recent memory, coming second at the Tim Hortons Brier, hoisting three Grand Slam titles, and winning the Grand Slam Cup before the final event of the season is even played. He’s been to 13 Tim Hortons Briers, won an Olympic gold medal, and he has a highway named after him, which is about the most bad-ass thing I can think of.
Welcome to Magical Question Fun Time, the Curling Canada feature where 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.
1. What’s the nicest shot you’ve ever been a part of?
Brad Gushue: I think it would have to be last year’s Brier, playing Kevin Koe. (Click here to see the video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42OQ9wr336A) It was late in the week, and we made a…I don’t even know how to describe it, really. A double run-back, around the horn thing (laughs) to win the game. It was big for us because it was also a shot that eliminated Kevin, and with him being one of the favorites in that field, it was big.
John Cullen: That shot was so interesting too, because of those implications. I just remember seeing Team Koe’s faces, and it was this bizarre mixture of disappointment, but also like, extreme respect for the shot you had made.
BG: I think part of it too was just shock. I know we were shocked. Not a lot of people even thought the shot was there.
JC: It actually went out pretty easy in retrospect.
BG: Yeah, that surprised me too. I don’t throw it the hardest in the world, but it did spring out pretty easily in the end. But yeah, huge shot, huge amount of difficulty, and to be honest, we thought we let the game slip away. We had played a great game and a horrible 10th end, and we thought we let it get away from us. But we made that shot, and looking back, seeing the excitement and also the shock on our faces too is kind of nice to see when you look back on it.
2. Who could you take in a fight?
BG: I think I could take just about any women’s player out there. (laughs) Am I allowed to say that? [laughs]
JC: [laughs] I’m not sure, maybe there’s someone who will take you up on it. [laughs]
BG: [laughs] I just don’t know, I’m not a big fighter so to pick out a guy is tough to say. You know what, I’ll say Brett Gallant. That’s my answer for sure.
JC: A lot of guys do pick on their own teammates in this question. Why Brett?
BG: I just think he’s a bit soft. [laughs] I’ve seen him in the gym and being around him a lot, I’m pretty sure I can handle him.
3. If a deli named a sandwich after you, what would be on it?
BG: Probably some pulled pork, a bit of cheese, and probably some bacon, might as well make it real bad for you. I can conjure up and enjoy that.
JC: I have to admit, that sounds like a real skip’s sandwich there. I think if I took that down before a game I’d die. [laughs]
BG: Oh no, that’s an off-week meal for me for sure. I would need a week off to digest it. I would throw some BBQ sauce and mayo on there too, just keep making it as bad as possible.
JC: And what would you call it?
BG: Brad’s Bonanza. It’s got some Western ingredients on there, and that’s a bit of a tribute to Donny Bartlett.
4. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
BG: It wasn’t a job where I was working for someone else per se, but I ran a couple of gas stations for a while and that wasn’t much fun at all. Being in that business and with the company I was affiliated with, it was super stressful.
JC: What was stressful about it? Being in charge, or just what came with the job?
BG: Everything. [laughs] From people stealing gas to robbing the stores, to the staff we had, it was just a challenge. As I’m sure you can imagine, we never really got the cream of the crop applying for jobs there, so it was pretty tough at times. And don’t get me wrong, we had some good employees too, just more bad ones. [laughs]
JC: Can you give me a bad employee horror story? I’ve seen people that work at gas stations and you must have a few.
BG: Oh, I have lots. [laughs] One time we had a guy who was working the graveyard shift, 10 p.m. to 10 a.m., and he had his buddy come down to the gas station to hang out. Well, I guess about halfway through the night he got tired and decided he would have a little nap and let his buddy run the show, who wasn’t trained, wasn’t an employee. That was fun to watch on the cameras the next morning. Oh, and another time we had a staff member who wanted to mop the floors on an overnight shift, so he asked a customer if he would watch the till while he did that. [laughs] You can’t make this stuff up.
JC: [laughs] That’s insane. To have a guy who thinks “you know what, mopping this floor is more important than that receptacle full of cash over there. [laughs]
BG: [laughs] Exactly. Pretty sure I don’t really care about those footprints bud.
5. What’s a stupid thing you incorrectly believed was true for a long time?
BG: Ooh, good question. Hm. Probably wrestling would be the biggest one. I thought it was real when I was a kid, watching Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, like most kids did. But I think I probably thought it was real way longer than I should have. [laughs]
JC: How long?
BG: Well, before I say, I’ll just say it looked a lot more real back then, not like the far-fetched stuff it is today. But I do still feel silly that I believed it was real long after most other people did. I was probably in my mid-teens before I figured it out. [laughs]
6. [laughs] Okay yeah, that’s way too long. Now, I usually ask silly questions here where I dig up dirt on you, but I’m dying to know, since I don’t think you’ve really answered this question before. I’m not trying to turn this into another broom debate, but essentially you guys started the entire one-sweeper revolution, which is now here to stay. How did you come up with the idea that one sweeper would be more effective?
BG: Yeah, we haven’t really talked about that. I’ll say that it took off a lot faster than we thought. We really thought it would be at least a few events before people caught on, especially at first because we got made fun of a LOT around that first Slam. It basically happened in Korea, we played our first event of the season there, just a small tournament, and we got destroyed by a Korean team, I think 17-5 or something. We had just started using the Hardline brooms and we couldn’t make a shot. My out-turn kept backing off, and my in-turn was curling like hell. I was trying to adjust my releases, but it made no difference at all. Brett was sweeping inside and was pulling everything.
JC: So you thought, okay, back to the drawing board.
BG: Well yeah, after we lost the event we went out and played around with it, and it was crazy. We knew switching to those brooms we would be able to control and manipulate the rock, but we really didn’t think it would have as much of an effect as it did. When we tested it with two sweepers, we noticed the effect was reduced, and when we switched to one sweeper only, we realized that if the ice conditions were right, we could pretty much make the rock go wherever we wanted. Honestly, John, after we practiced this way, we knew it would cause a s***storm. We literally sat down and talked about whether or not we wanted to do it, but it was just too effective not to.
JC: So the first Slam happens, you figure people will make fun of you and it’ll take them a while to catch up to what was happened.
BG: People got upset right away, probably by the second Slam. Like yeah, we were made fun of too, but we started to hear people complaining and being upset by the second event, and then six weeks later, everyone was doing it themselves. We were pretty shocked at how quickly it went. And we knew the hair stuff too. We started testing one hair brush in Korea as well and realized that’s stronger than it used to be and those would probably be banned too. It wasn’t hard to predict where it was all going to go once we started doing it.
7. We’ll all look back and remember you guys were the ones who started it, which is pretty crazy. Now, let’s be a bit less serious and chat about something I’ve noticed the last few seasons. You’re getting to be one of the wily old veterans on tour now, and with that comes the attention of, well…a certain age group of ladies. How does it feel to have your poster up in many assisted living centres across the country?
BG: [laughs] Yeah, I guess that’s true that’s probably happening right now. I think it’s that way for two reasons. I think first, when we first came on tour, that group of ladies that supported us was motherly age, like in their 50s, and so now it just follows that they’re of a bit of an advanced age and like us. I think the big thing was when I called home during the Olympics. I won and I wanted to call my mom, and I think the older ladies loved that move. [laughs]
JC: [laughs] Oh, so it was a move, a ploy to get the 50 year-olds after you? [laughs]
BG: [laughs] No, no, it wasn’t a move, obviously I wanted to talk to my mom and my first instinct was to call her after we won because she was supposed to be in Italy and couldn’t be there. So people liked that, and really since 2006, we’ve had that following. It’s really nice, I get messages almost every day on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, from people who support us, and it means a lot. And obviously people around our team are starting to see that following too.
JC: It’s funny calling that a move because I think it would have the opposite effect on a younger lady in a bar. “Hold on, I just have to call my mom here.”
BG: [laughs] Yeah, calling your mom isn’t a bar move. I actually thought of doing it after the seventh end (in the 2006 Olympic gold-medal game), we had kinda gotten control of the game and so I asked our fifth if he could grab my phone for me so I could call her right away. It was what I wanted to do, and it meant a lot to our family, and it’s a great memory for me. I think people respected that.
8. Awesome. And now the last question comes in from world junior champion Mary Fay. What’s one of the funniest moments you’ve ever shared with your team?
BG: There are lots, but one that sticks out I’d probably have to go back to the Olympics for. We were just about to go out after a game we lost in the round robin, I think to Finland, and our coach didn’t do it on purpose, but Toby MacDonald got the boys going pretty good. We were in the dressing room before the game, and the team was down a bit after our loss, and so he’s suiting up. It was cold in the arena so he put on some long johns, a shirt, a sweater, a jacket, his shoes, and then he walked out the door into the arena. [laughs] He totally didn’t put on his pants. He had this pair of old, tighty-whitey long johns, and just walked out. It was hilarious.
JC: [laughs] That’s unreal. How long was he out there for? Did he actually make it out into the arena before someone noticed?
BG: You know, I still to this day have no idea where he went, but he disappeared for a good two minutes and then came back in to us howling with laughter like, “you bastards!” It really loosened the guys up though, and it helped us get ready for the next game.
JC: It almost sounds like he might’ve done this on purpose.
BG: Toby was an awesome coach and he had a reputation of doing things like that as a coach where you were never really sure if it was an honest blunder or he was trying to motivate you. I’d like to believe this was an honest mistake because it’s way funnier that way, but with him, you could never tell.
JC: Awesome. And now lastly, could I have a question for the next person I interview?
BG: Certainly! Let’s go with, what is your biggest disappointment in your curling career so far?
JC: WOW. Bringing the heat, Brad.
BG: I’m sure lots of people ask nice questions, we might as well put someone on the hot seat here. [laughs] I’m curious to see what they say.
JC: Fantastic, that way I don’t have to ask it. Really appreciate this Brad, and best of luck in the last Grand Slam of the season!