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MQFT with Matt Hamilton

This week, John sits down with his first-ever international guest, Matt Hamilton! Matt won an Olympic gold medal with Team Shuster in 2018 and is a former World Junior champion to go along with his three World Championship appearances. Matt also gained some notoriety during the Olympics for his mustache and outgoing personality, and he and John combine for a very entertaining interview.

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 for each curler, two questions specific to the featured curler, and one question provided by the previous curler interviewed.

Matt Hamilton in action at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea (WCF/Richard Gray photo)

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

Matt Hamilton: At the 2016 World Championships in Basel with Shuster, Johnny made a run to a piece of a rock into another one to score three, and it was pretty silly. (Watch here. The shot is at 2:10) It was looking like the best we were gonna do was get forced, and then we were able to just get both of them out.

John Cullen: Did you get to participate in the shot? Sometimes as a sweeper you just watch those go down and think, “Yeah yeah, I was a part of that.”

MH: I was pretty on-off for it, but I did sweep it a bit. It was a pretty finesse shot, it wasn’t a run on the center line, but it was out there as a corner guard and it was way trickier. Certainly as a sweeper you feel like you’re not doing a whole lot on those peel shots, but I was there and I swept, so that counts for a bit. I bet he makes it once out of 30 tries, so it was fun to be a part of it for sure.

2. If there was an action figure made of you, what non-curling accessory would it come with?

MH: Well I’m not sure that it would come with anything, but it would definitely say too much. [laughs] It would be one of those ones you would squeeze, but it would just have so many options of things to say.

JC: [laughs] That sounds like it could be my doll as well. Do you know some things it would say?

MH: Well, I think we’d have to start with 100 different phrases. I say “Come on!” a lot when we make nice shots, so that would be in there for sure. I know Brad Jacobs loves that one too. I think I would probably just record myself saying a bunch of dumb things, and then the action figure would have a random word assembler in there that would combine them when you squeezed it. Just a lot of nonsense. [laughs]

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?

MH: My first choice would be BJ Neufeld, I think mostly because he’s a quiet dude. I know if he ever got caught, he would keep his mouth shut.

JC: [laughs] You said that pretty dastardly, I feel like you’ve thought about this before.

MH: Well I played with him at the Continental Cup and he was a great teammate. He’s smart too, I see him being the guy who cracks the vault. And then I’d take Brad Gushue. He would organize the whole plan and figure out the timing of when and how we do everything. He’s been a Continental Cup teammate too and that just seems like his jam, he’s very calculated.

Bank heist accomplices: BJ Neufeld would crack the vault, and Brad Gushue would do all the planning (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

JC: I agree, this seems like a good squad so far. And you?

MH: I want to be the guy that stands in the lobby and yells at everyone. [laughs] “GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!”, you know, stuff like that. That would be cool. And I can be the getaway driver too, once BJ comes with all the cash.

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

MH: When I was younger, just out of juniors, I worked construction for a while, and I didn’t enjoy that too much. Honestly, it was rewarding being able to get to the end of the day and see what you had accomplished right in front of you, but the people I worked with sucked.

JC: [laughs] You’re putting it mildly, tell me how you really feel.

MH: It’s nothing against construction or probably most construction workers, but it just felt to me like the ones I worked with were super negative and hated their jobs, and that really brought me down for sure. I’m a positive guy, John. [laughs]

JC: And being in Wisconsin, I imagine working in construction was pretty cold. I’ve worked construction before too, and it’s always crazy to me not only how the people dislike their jobs, but also how they can even get there. A lot of strange people.

MH: Oh, November was brutal. I ran HVAC, so by the time December rolled around, we were able to get inside the building and get it enclosed by plastic. But November was very cold. And yeah, strange people for sure. I remember meeting some people and thinking, “How are THEY a journeyman?” [laughs] I’m glad I don’t have to do it anymore.

Matt Hamilton does his mascot thing at the 2018 World Financial Group Continental Cup in London, Ontario (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

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

MH: All right, well I’m still not even sure about this. If you’re the opposing skip and the other team’s rock is going out of the house sideways along the center line, is your broom allowed to cross the tee? I’ve seen a bunch of people do it and I have no idea what the ruling is.

JC: What do you think it is?

MH: I’m of the belief you can’t do it. I mean, I don’t really need to know, I’m a front-end player, but sometimes the skip can’t get over there and you gotta sweep it.

JC: Have you ever had an argument about it on the ice?

MH: Yeah, actually. I was skipping back in 2009 to qualify our team for nationals, and the other skip was doing it. He was an older guy, a veteran guy, and so I called him out on it and he just looked right at me and called me a “punk” and said he knew all the rules and I was wrong. So I just said “ok sir” and I was pretty much rattled for the rest of the game after that. [laughs] But yeah, if anyone wants to tell me what the rule is, I’m all ears.

Matt Hamilton on his role in a bank robbery: I’d be the guy yelling “GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!” (WCF/Richard Gray photo)

6. All right, now we’re on to the Matt Hamilton-specific questions and this first one here is interesting. What’s the longest shower you’ve ever taken?

MH: [laughs] Oh man. Okay, so this all started back at an event and I got going pretty good one night and so the next day I was really hungover. So I got in the shower and it just felt really nice. The water was very warm because in hotels it never runs out, and the sound of the water was very soothing. So I thought, “You know what, I’m going to sit down in here.” Next thing you know, I had actually fallen asleep. I was in there for easily an hour, maybe an hour and a half. [laughs]

JC: [laughs] The warm water does feel great, I’ll give you that for sure. Is this a regular occurrence?

MH: On the road, for sure. I’m good for a 20-minute shower at minimum most days. I’m sorry I’m wasting water, but it started out as a hangover thing and then I realized “Hey, this feels pretty good sober too.” [laughs] It’s getting a bit out of hand, maybe this will help me rein this in. And I know Tyler George is gonna read this and say “That’s garbage, it’s four hours at least!” but I promise 90 minutes is the longest shower I’ve ever had.

7. Now sometimes I get asked to ask questions of people, and other times I get asked to have my guest tell a story. That’s the case here, as I was told to ask you the story of your first game with your World Junior Championship team and your first shot with the team.

MH: Okay, so I know this request came from either Chris (Plys, the skip of that team) or Tyler. Anyway, it’s our first game together as a team, and we’re playing together in Minnesota. I was playing lead on the team and came from playing skip, so maybe I was just a little bit too aggressive. Anyway, my first shot is a centre guard and Plys called for it tight. It looked like it was going to be a bit short, so the guys are sweeping and I just come right up behind them on the rock and I’m screaming at them like it’s the last shot of a very important game.

The guys made it tighter to the house and then Tyler George, who was skipping the other team, just turns to Plys and says, “Where the hell did you find this guy?” [laughs]

JC: I’ve been there. Hell, I’m still there. Are we not supposed to scream at our sweepers? [laughs]

MH: I think on the first shot, you’ve just gotta let it be, man. I just didn’t know how to play lead yet. And it was extra embarrassing because I really didn’t know the guys at all and I was coming up from Wisconsin to play, so it just made me look like the outsider. You have to understand, the screaming was a full 10 out of 10. I’ve gotten better, I think. [laughs]

8. And the last question comes in from our previous guest, Shannon Birchard. What made you decide on the mustache and how do you keep it fresh?

MH: Wow, that’s a good question, Shannon. So it all started a few years ago, when I first started playing on Shuster’s team. We were playing in Canada more and I started to hear a lot more about Movember. In the States, it’s more No-Shave November than specifically mustaches. I thought it was kinda cool, so I decided to do it. I’m also terrible at growing facial hair, so I started in October. It took two months, and over those two months, we played pretty well, so I figured I would keep it. No one else in curling had really done it, so I thought it might be something that might be more recognizable.

JC: Turned out that was a great decision.

MH: Yeah, the marketing side of things really worked out. Then we went on to win nationals with me having it, and John, I’m not superstitious but I am a little ‘stitious, and so I kept it.

JC: Did you have it all the time?

MH: Well that’s the thing, I would usually shave it off in the summers because it was just kind of a curling thing. I would grow it back during curling season and that was it. But then once we won the gold medal, it became this marketable thing, and I’m actually working with Remington now, so I can’t shave it off.

Rocking the ‘stache (Curling Canada/Michael Burns photo)

JC: The mustache is you now.

MH: Yeah, and I don’t mind. it’s pretty awesome actually, because Remington is actually one of the brands that the company I work for owns, so it’s really cool to be a Remington Beard Boss and to see my face on the box of a brand whose company I work for.

JC: You’re going to be on the box? That’s unreal!

MH: We just started launching them, I actually gave a few away at the Continental Cup as a promotional thing on Instagram, and they’ll be popping up in stores soon. It’s a really interesting thing, and it’s a fun thing to do. People always like to tell you when they see you pop up on TV or they recognize you, and now I’ll have people saying they saw me at their grocery stores, which is pretty neat.

JC: Fantastic! Thanks so much for this Matt, and may I have a question for my next guest, Canadian Junior Champ Selena Sturmay?

MH: Can I make it a three-parter?

JC: Of course you can! The more the merrier!

MH: Okay, here we go.

1) What does it mean to you to wear the Maple Leaf?
2) How does it feel to be the first junior women’s team to go undefeated since Rachel Homan in 2010?
3) Do you think having a mustache would help or hinder your chances at Worlds?

JC: [laughs] A perfect balance of questions. I’d expect nothing less! Thanks Matt, and best of luck the rest of the season!

As always, you can follow John on Twitter @cullenthecurler and his curling interview podcast, Stone + Straw, at @stonestrawpod. You can follow Matt Hamilton at @MattJamilton.

Celebrating the gold medal at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang: Team USA’s Tyler George, John Shuster, John Landsteiner and Matt Hamilton (WCF/Richard Gray photo)