MQFT with Jacques Gauthier!

Jacques Gauthier celebrates his victory at the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Men’s Championship last month. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Get to know Jacques Gauthier of Team Canada!

This week, John sits down with Jacques Gauthier, the 2020 New Holland Canadian Junior Men’s champion, and a former world juniors gold-medallist as the alternate for Team Tardi. Jacques will be travelling to Krasnoyarsk, Russia, with his girlfriend, Karlee Burgess, as they will both be competing for gold at the 2020 World Junior Championships.

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 best shot you’ve ever been a part of?

Jacques Gauthier: Well, there were quite a few circus shots that my former skip JT Ryan made, but a lot of those were my fault, so I don’t want to single them out. [laughs]

John Cullen: [laughs] That’s fair. We’ve all been there.

JG: In all honesty, probably the shot to beat Braden Calvert to win junior provincials for the first time. He had to make a 1/4-rock pick to win the game, and it was for all of our first provincial title, so I just can’t imagine the pressure he was feeling in that situation. Our sweepers had to hammer it the whole way down, but thankfully I got the line right, the sweepers swept it great, and JT made it perfect. I actually got pretty emotional after, which I don’t usually do. I went nuts, just cheering and stuff. It was awesome.

JC: And now you’re the skip and you probably felt a bit of that pressure yourself.

JG: Yeah, a bit for sure. As I said, I’m pretty even-keeled so I don’t think about it too much, but we had two big shots this week. We played B.C. #1 one night and we were just playing like garbage all game and I had to make a 1/4-rock slash to win it and that one felt like a lot of pressure. And then the double in eight against Newfoundland and Labrador in the final was a big one too.

2. What is a possession you just can’t seem to get rid of?

Karlee Burgess, left, and Jacques Gauthier show off their haul from the New Holland Canadian Juniors. (Photo, Curling Canada)

JG: This is kind of a weird one, but I bought these $20 moccasins to wear at high school, and I wore them way past their expiration date. Like I even brought them to the beach one time and took them in the water, they got almost totally wrecked, and I just can’t get rid of them. I even bought a new pair of the same brand, but I never wear them. There’s just something about this pair I can’t shake.

JC: I can’t say I’ve ever really worn shoes that far past their expiration date. What makes them so good?

JG: I honestly don’t even know. It’s not like they were super comfortable when I bought them, and they don’t look good or anything. But I guess they’re just so loose and molded to my feet now that I barely feel like I’m wearing shoes when I have them on. It’s nice.

JC: Karlee (Burgess, Jacques’ girlfriend and third for Team Mackenzie Zacharias) must hate them.

JG: Oh my God, man. She HATES them. She’s tried to throw them out numerous times, but I keep finding them. Even buying the new ones, that was mostly for her. I did it as an olive branch, to try and impress her like, “hey, these aren’t falling apart”, but she hated those too. [laughs]

3. Who is the most underrated curler and why?

JG: I think for me there’s two. The first, I read your interview with Braeden Moskowy and he said Benoît Schwarz, and I totally agree with him there. I’ve seen him curl multiple times and the guy never misses. Plus, he’s always got a sweet watch on his wrist, all iced out with Tag-Heuer or whatever it is. I love that style.

The other guy I would say is Bobby Lammie. Just go look at his stats anytime he’s playing, he’s always going nuts. Just doesn’t miss. And he’s an animal on the brush too. I haven’t gotten a chance to play either one of them, but hopefully we can win the World Juniors and make it happen at Champions Cup. It would be awesome.

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

JG: I’ve only had a few jobs in my life, so I don’t want the family business to feel like I’m throwing them under the bus, but I worked for my uncle one summer and that was easily my worst job. Obviously a lot of people know that Winnipeg gets really cold winters, but what they forget is that we also get a lot of really hot summers. I was working in a rock truck for my uncle and we would just sit and bake in the heat for 11 to 12 hours a day. It was so rough.

JC: I’ve been there. I worked in a warehouse for two summers, loading and unloading trucks, and it gets SO hot back there.

JG: Also, the truck had no air conditioning. Did I mention that? [laughs] The job wasn’t too bad, but just sitting in the hot truck all day just beat the crap out of me. It would be 40 degrees outside and it would somehow be 45 in the truck. You’d step into 40 degree weather to cool down. [laughs] I couldn’t drink enough water to replace what I was losing, it was a summer where we had something like three separate heat waves…never again.

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

JG: So this one has to do with my sister, who is two years older than me. I’ve always liked numbers, even since I was little. I remember not being able to count past 100 at the time, and she told me that one million was the biggest number there was. I fought her tooth and nail because I thought one thousand was the biggest number there was and bigger than a million.

JC: [laughs] How did you think that?

JG: I don’t even know, honestly. I think I just thought that the word “thousand” sounded much more intimidating than the word “million”, and so it had to be bigger.

JC: How did you figure out it wasn’t?

JG: I think it actually lasted until Grade 3. I had the same argument with a kid in my class, so it was on our minds, and then we started doing powers in math. Someone was asking how the numbers escalated and I remember looking at our math booklet and thinking, “oh crap.” [laughs] I never apologized to my sister though, never admitted I was wrong. Hopefully she doesn’t read this.

6. Now we move on to the Jacques Gauthier-specific questions and I have to admit, this is a weird one even for me. Do you owe your cousins (Canadian and World Junior champs Tyler and Jordan Tardi) a kiss?

Jacques Gauthier, middle, with his cousins Tyler Tardi, left, and Jordan Tardi, during the 2018 World Juniors in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Photo, World Curling Federation/Richard Gray)

JG: [laughs] Wow. I cannot believe he told you about this. I had actually forgotten about this until right now, and I think I actually owe the whole team a kiss. [laughs]

JC: What happened?

JG: So I was the alternate for the 2018 World Juniors with my cousins Jordan and Tyler, and we were playing the South Koreans in one of our first games. The year before, that South Korean team had actually won the worlds, so we had kinda circled that game on our schedule as being one of our biggest ones. The first end, they just weren’t hitting anything for some reason. I remember there being a centre guard and we just kept looping rocks in, over and over. They’d try to freeze and click off, or miss deep, and so we’re stacking rocks in the house.

JC: Always a good thing to happen in the first end.

JG: Exactly. So I remember after Jordan’s rocks, our coach Melissa Soligo turned to me and said, “You know what? I think we could end up getting a bunch of points here. I think four for sure, maybe even five or six.” Now there were still four rocks to come, it was the first end, I never thought we were gonna get six. So I said “if we get six here, I will personally kiss every team member on the lips.” [laughs]

JC: [laughs] Oh my God. So of course, they got six.

JG: Well, Tyler was sitting in the hack getting ready to throw his last one, and it was an open draw for the sixth point. Now obviously I want the boys to win, and I want Tyler to make all of his shots, but if he was gonna miss one open draw that week…I might’ve preferred it to be that one. [laughs]

JC: Did they ever bug you about paying up your debts?

JG: Sterling was on me for a bit after, for sure. The problem for them was my girlfriend, Karlee, was also there with her team, so I think she might’ve gotten a bit jealous. Maybe if she wasn’t there, it might’ve worked out. [laughs]

7. Speaking of your cousin Tyler, I hear that he almost blew it for you with Karlee. What happened there?

JG: Yeah, I would actually like to say first of all, a big thank-you to Tyler for almost blowing it for me before it even happened. That was really cool. [laughs]

JC: He admits that he almost did. He feels bad, I think.

JG: Good. He should. It was in 2017, and I remember the week started at nationals and I was, you know, thinking maybe I might like to get to know Karlee a little better. I knew that Karlee had played in the Youth Olympics with Tyler, so I sorta asked him if she was worth talking to. He just said, “Ah man, she has a boyfriend, I wouldn’t waste your time.”

JC: Oh no. I see where this is going.

JG: Yeah, so I thought, “All right, I’ll focus on curling, I guess?” [laughs] So the week goes on and nothing happened, I didn’t go out of my way to talk to her or anything. Then towards the end of the week, we were all hanging out in the Players’ Lounge one night and it closed for the evening, and we kept hanging out and talking for a really long time, and finally I just asked, “Hey, do you have a boyfriend?” Turns out she didn’t, and I guess the rest is history.

JC: Good on you for asking, though. A gentlemanly thing to do, and you could’ve just assumed Tyler was right and never asked.

JG: I thought so, too. You know, JT always gets the credit for being a classy guy, but look at me, classing it up. [laughs]

8. My final question comes in from Rachel Brown. She told herself that if she ever won the Scotties, she would get a tattoo of a Maple Leaf to commemorate it. She still hasn’t done it, but she wants to know if you win worlds and decided to get a Maple Leaf tattoo, where would you get it, and what would the style of it be?

JG: Ooh, good question. I know that when Karsten Sturmay won the universities, he got a Canada tattoo and he got it on the back of his calf. I think I would put mine there too, I like that spot. Or the Harndens, after the Olympics, they got ones on their chest, over the heart. That’s cool too. I think I’d put it anywhere where it wasn’t super visible, just something that’s meaningful to you and not everyone has to see it. I heard the Harnden spot hurt though, so maybe not. As for style, I think I would just do it pretty traditionally, just a normal Maple Leaf.

JC: That’s it? Nothing too crazy like the Ryan Fry guy ripping through his skin or whatever?

JG: Nah, I’d keep it traditional. Look John, I’m a classy guy. [laughs]

JC: [laughs] That’s true, and I can’t argue there. Thanks for joining me Jacques, and in an ironic twist, I will actually be interviewing your girlfriend Karlee Burgess for my next MQFT. This is your chance to put her on the spot!

JG: Oooh. I want to, but I also don’t want to get in trouble. [laughs] Let me think. OK, she’s been to four World Juniors (and about to attend her fifth) and a Youth Olympics, so ask her what her favourite city and venue was out of those five championships.

JC: Boo! You’re letting her off too easy. But that’s fair enough, you know what they say: happy wife, happy life.

JG: Exactly.

JC: Thanks Jacques, and best of luck at the upcoming Junior Worlds!

As always, you can follow John on Twitter @cullenthecurler, and you can follow Jacques Gauthier at @JacquesG55 and his team at @Gauthiercurling.

Curling Canada