MQFT with Brendan Bottcher

This week, John sits down with the most recent Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings qualifier, Brendan Bottcher. In addition to heading to the Roar, Brendan is a world junior champion, a world university bronze medallist, and in 2017 represented Alberta at the Tim Hortons Brier. 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.

Team Alberta skip Brendan Bottcher in action at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier in St. John’s, N.L. (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

1. Aside from travel, what’s the coolest opportunity you’ve had as a result of curling? Brendan Bottcher: The opportunity to coach some international teams has been really rewarding for me. I got to go over to South Korea and work with their men’s and mixed doubles’ teams, and now I’m working with Spain and coaching their mixed doubles team and it’s amazing. Getting to learn from them, make new friends, get introduced to new experiences, and considering my age (note: Brendan is 25 as of this writing), it’s pretty great. John Cullen: I had noticed you were coaching Spain, how did that come about? BB: Well, I’ve been to Füssen Curling Camp the last few years, and one of my assistants was Irantzu—a member of the Spanish MD team—and so I got to know them then. I went over to Spain to help coach, and then coached them at the World Mixed Doubles in Lethbridge last season. I think Curling Canada was a bit surprised. (laughs)

Coach Bottcher with Spaniards Gontzai and Irantzu Garcia at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Lethbridge, Alta. (WCF/Richard Gray photo)

JC: Why were they surprised? There are lots of Canadians coaching those international teams. BB: Yeah, I believe there were 38 teams there and 17 of the coaches were Canadian. I think it was just that it was me. I’m a pretty busy guy, so being there and doing that as well shocked them a bit. Here’s the thing: in Canada, it’s very hard to get to a Worlds, no matter the discipline, be it men’s or mixed doubles. You can be a very good curler for a very long time and never make it. And then if you do, the first time is very overwhelming. So to be able to go as a coach, see how it runs, and get that behind-the-scenes experience was really valuable for me. 2. If there was an action figure made of you, what non-curling accessory would it come with? BB: I don’t think either of these answers are exciting, but it would come with a golf club and my engineering ring of power. (laughs) JC: Are you an avid golfer? BB: Well you can use the word “avid” loosely, but I golf. It’s my summer sport of choice and I definitely enjoy it, the release is really good. It’s hard for me not to be as competitive on the course as I am on the ice, but I’m definitely more relaxed on the course. JC: Well you may not be avid, but are you a good golfer? What’s your handicap? BB: I’m a good golfer on the scale of people who golf, but I wouldn’t call myself a “good golfer”. (laughs) My handicap is probably around 12. JC: And I did know you are an engineer, and it seems a lot of curlers are. Why do you think that is? BB: I think to be an engineer you have to be analytical and you have to be decisive, and those are two skills that transfer over into curling very well. It’s also preached a lot when you’re an engineer that you have to be ethical, and curling is the gentleman’s game. So it makes sense a lot of engineers would curl.

Brendan Bottcher, Engineer: Analytical, decisive, ethical – and he wears a Ring of Power (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

3. If you were forced to rob a bank, which two curlers—you can’t choose more than one teammate—would you choose to be on your squad, and what role would you play? BB: I would take Brad (Thiessen) off of my team, and Gunner (Jason Gunnlaugson). There would be enough IQ points between the two of them to handle most of the work, and then I’ll drive the getaway car. JC: You’re the second guest in a row to say they would be the getaway driver. Krista McCarville said she just wouldn’t want to be implicated in the crime. Is that your issue too? BB: Yeah, I think I would be pretty afraid. I’ll say this: I would love to PLAN one. That would be a blast. That’s my analytical mind talking. I think planning it all out, learning how to defeat the bank, that would be fun. Actually executing though? No thanks. JC: That’s where Brad and Gunner would come in. BB: Exactly. Gunner can smooth-talk anyone, and his laugh is so loud he could just throw a few of those out that the whole bank would be watching him. And Brad would just swoop in and grab the cash. He’s got the beef to carry a bunch just on his own. I don’t think we’d even have to pull out the gun. But we’d have one, just in case. (laughs)

“Gunner can smooth-talk anyone,” which makes him the perfect bank heist accomplice, says Brendan Bottcher. (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

4. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? BB: I honestly haven’t had a bad job, but I would say my worst “work situation” has been these last eight months. I quit my job to curl leading up to this Olympic run, and it’s been really tough. Not from a money standpoint, but it’s just been tough for me to wake up in the morning and not have somewhere to go, or have a goal for the day. I’m very routine-oriented, so that’s been the biggest adjustment. JC: Speaking as someone who gets two months a year off with their job, I can totally relate. The key is just to somehow have any type of plan. I’m sure curling practice helped. BB: Curling definitely has helped, and I booked all my practices months in advance so I would know, “Okay, this is when I’m going to the club and throwing, then I can go to the gym at this time,” and so on. But it’s still been tough because it gets so easy to make excuses when you don’t have work. You can just do anything later. And all my guys still have full-time jobs, so I’ve been on my own a bit with this and that’s made it tougher too. I’m looking forward to getting a new job in the New Year, let’s just say that. (laughs) 5. What’s a stupid thing you incorrectly believed was true for a long time? BB: (laughs) Well I’m not sure if this counts, but I still believe it. The concept that you can survive being a full-time curler. Because trust me, I’ve tried to believe it, but there’s just no way it’s true. (laughs) JC: But so many people are now trying to do it, Brendan. (laughs) BB: I mean, yeah, but everyone at the top who says they’re a “professional curler” has SOMETHING on the side. The illusion that we’re all going to be pros in the next few years just isn’t going to happen without some absolutely seismic changes to the way the sport is funded and played. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve chased the dream for quite some time, but if you’re Canadian, I don’t think it’s going to happen. 6. Now on to the Brendan Bottcher-specific questions, and this one is good. Are you the most successful curler who still lives with their parents? BB: (laughs) Well, I think I take offence to that statement somewhat, since I’m only home for a quarter of the time, but I think the answer has to be no. JC: Who would it be? BB: I don’t know, but there’s gotta be someone better. Send emails to John and let him know! (laughs) I have been looking for a place to buy here in Edmonton, but if you’re a curler, do you even need a house? I am legitimately home maybe one or two days a week, I’m strongly considering just getting a U-Haul and living out of that. JC: I think that would be pretty sweet. Roll up to spiels in it. BB: Absolutely. Just roll out the fake grass, the picnic table, every night’s a party! We’d have to start curling in warmer places for that to really work, though. JC: (laughs) Yeah, I don’t think plastic grass in Morris in November is going to go over very well. I really can’t imagine you’re not the most successful curler who shares a dwelling with their parents. You’re better than all junior curlers and your team is ranked in the top 15, so…who could it be, really? BB: You might be right. To be honest, I’ve never been the world’s best anything, so maybe I need to hang on to this. (laughs) Maybe I just have to stay at home and hang on to the title of World’s Best Curler Who Lives With His Parents. I know at least one woman who would be extremely mad to hear me say that. (laughs) 7. Now, I heard a rumour about you but it seems so outlandish that it doesn’t seem to be true. I’ve heard that you hate all fruit, no exceptions. How is that possible? BB: Well, that’s no rumour, that’s the truth for sure. I hate it all. As for how it’s possible, I don’t know. I hate it and I always have. My parents told me that even as a baby I choked it down. I guess they kind of forced me to, and then as I grew up, I just made the choice never to eat it. JC: But how can you hate ALL fruit? It seems crazy. BB: I have no attraction to it at all. I hate the texture, the taste, the smell…everything. I guess my palate is just more geared towards sour/salty foods, rather than sweet. It’s never really been an issue, I like a lot of healthy food, I love all veggies, it’s never been an issue to feel like I eat healthy. Just hate fruit. JC: Is there any fruit you will eat? Even just mixed with something else? BB: People try to prank me by sneaking fruit into my food all the time, but I have a remarkable ability to pick it out. It might be my most impressive attribute, actually. (laughs) The one I’ll eat on a very, very rare basis is a Granny Smith apple with peanut butter. That’s tolerable. I don’t REALLY want to eat it, but sometimes it’s what’s available for a healthy snack, so I take it down. JC: I’ve heard you don’t even like fruits that we generally call vegetables. BB: Very true. Cucumbers, tomatoes, all of that. Though with tomato I’ve just recently started to get into it. Never on its own, but in sauces and stuff. It’s okay then. And it’s weird, because I’ll literally eat anything else. I’ve travelled a lot and had some super weird meals, but for some reason, the fruit thing just gets me every time. 8. Can you explain your nickname “Bottcher Express”? BB: I wish I could, and if someone out there could give me insight as to how I got that nickname, that would be great, because I have no idea. JC: How do you have a nickname you have no knowledge of? BB: Well, if you go to my Wikipedia page, it says that I’m nicknamed “The Bottcher Express”, but legitimately no one has ever called me that. I woke up one day and had a Wikipedia page. I have no clue who made it, where that got that nickname from, or why they put it on there. The weird part is too, I got the page before I had even done anything in curling, really. It was in the middle of juniors and I hadn’t been to nationals yet or anything. So who knows.

The Bottcher Express: Where did this mysterious Wikipedia entry come from?

JC: That happened to the second on my team, Jay Wakefield. He has a Wikipedia page, has no idea why, and has only been to one national. Maybe it’s the same person who just loves moderately successful junior curlers. (laughs) Do people ever say it to you, like even as a joke? BB: (laughs) Yeah, it could be. As for the Express thing, no one ever says it seriously, but my friends will joke about it to me because it’s so ridiculous. The weird part is I’ll also get asked about it in job interviews. I have a section on my resumé where I talk about curling, so I guess the interviewer will often look me up, and find that nickname. So they ask me and I have to tell them this same boring story about how I have no idea. (laughs) JC: Hey man, I’ve had some moments in my interviews like this where the question does truly get answered. So if you’re out there, and you wrote this Wikipedia, or have info on how Brendan got his nickname, send it in! Tweet us! We need to know. May I have a question for my next guest? BB: I’ve been reading your interviews, and I want to wait until you know who it is. I like the idea of coming up with something juicy. JC: Wonderful! That’s my favourite type of question. Thanks Brendan, and best of luck at the Roar of the Rings! As always, you can follow John on Twitter @cullenthecurler and you can follow Brendan @TeamBottcher.

Team Bottcher show off their Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings crests after winning the B Final of the Home Hardware Road to the Roar in Summerside, P.E.I. From left to right: skip Brendan Bottcher, third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen, lead Karrick Martin (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)