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Gushue still motivated to ‘put on a show’ as he enters 21st career Brier

Brad Gushue Brad Gushue - The Canadian Press

REGINA – Regardless of what happens this week at the Montana’s Brier, or for the rest of his career, Brad Gushue’s legacy is firmly cemented as one of the best rock throwers to every step on the pebbled ice.

The 43-year-old has won all five of his Brier Tankards over the past seven years, the most Canadian men’s curling championships ever won by a skip. Gushue also owns a gold medal from the 2017 World Men’s Curling Championship and two Olympic medals – gold in 2006 and bronze in 2022.

A sixth win in Regina would tie Gushue, as well as long-time teammates Mark Nichols and Geoff Walker, with Randy Ferbey for the most Brier titles in history.

“I’m not too concerned about it being the sixth or third [Brier] in a row or anything like that. I just love winning the Brier. It’s the best teams in Canada. It’s the biggest event of the year. The most prestigious event that we play in throughout the year,” Gushue told the media after practice at Regina’s Brandt Centre on Friday morning.

“I love playing in those pressure situations at the end of the week. So, hopefully we can get there, get a couple breaks, and experience that feeling once again.”

This year’s Brier marks the fifth time Gushue will wear the Maple Leaf as skip of the defending champions. Gushue knows teams will be gunning for them as Team Canada.

“You know you’re going to get everybody’s best game, or at least their 100 per cent focus,” said Gushue. “I guess the easier side is that we’ve been here so much, and we know what to expect when we get to the end of the week. When you play that game when you’re the only sheet on the ice, we’ve had that feeling so many times that we’re used to it.”

The drive to win is still there for the St. John’s native as he competes in his record 21st Brier, dating back to 2003 in Halifax. 

“I love to play. I love to practice. I love to see myself making shots. That’s the biggest thing for me. I also love this environment of playing in front of people,” said Gushue, who also has won a record 172 games at the Brier. “I’ve found as I gotten older, playing in curling clubs with nobody watching, it doesn't excite me anymore. So, we went back to play a couple of bonspiels in curling clubs this year and I found the motivation challenging, but when I get into venues like this or Slams, I have no problem getting up for it and I get excited to go out and trying to put on a show.” 

The Brandt Centre has a capacity of 6,000 people. The last time the Brier was held at this building was in 2018 when a total of 110,555 people filled the seats throughout the 10-day event, eventually watching Team Gushue defeat a young Alberta squad led by Brendan Bottcher for their second straight national championship.

Gushue had one of the most dominating weeks of his career that week in Saskatchewan’s capital. The skip shot a tournament-leading 93 per cent, including a perfect game in the 1 vs 2-page playoff, and 96 per cent in the gold-medal win over Team Bottcher. 

“That week we were in the zone, and it almost felt easy. It just felt like we were going to make every shot. The breaks were going to go our way. It was just one of those weeks that, if you can have a couple of those in your career you’re pretty lucky, and we did have it here in 2018,” Gushue explained “I just remember it being so fun to go to the rink because you just knew you were going to play well and win.”

Their only loss that week came against Team Bottcher, a 10-7 morning draw defeat in the round robin. That loss marked a turning point for Team Gushue when it comes to what they eat during Brier week. 

“We no longer eat steak during the week. The reason for that is we went out for a steak dinner one night and we played a morning game after that and we played so poorly, but we were on fire all week, so we blamed the steak,” Gushue said of the superstition. “We haven’t had steak during the week ever since. So, that’s what I remember from the Brier. Stupid I know, but that was kind of our mentality. We were playing so well, it had to be the steak that messed us up.”

Gushue and company began their Brier pursuit Friday night against Nova Scotia’s Team Matthew Manuel, picking up a 7-4 victory. 

A celebratory steak dinner will have to wait until a week from Sunday if they pull off history in Regina.