What will it take for Gushue to end Edin’s world curling reign?


Article content

Having competed in the world championship three times and the Olympics twice, Mark Nichols is eminently qualified to speak about the mystique of international curling.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Quite simply, it’s a different beast from what curlers normally experience in Canada.

Article content

“There’s a shift in mindset,” Nichols said this week as his team, skipped by Brad Gushue, prepared to represent Canada in the world men’s curling championship at TD Place in Ottawa.

“You go in from playing a Brier, playing for your province and yourselves and then you’ve kind of got to flip the switch, and you’re wearing the Maple Leaf on your back. As an athlete you put enough pressure on yourself anyway, and then you feel it from every other fan in Canada as well.”

Article content

The Gushue foursome out of St. John’s, N.L., which also includes second E.J. Harnden, lead Geoff Walker and alternate Ryan Harnden, is tasked with trying to get Canada back to the top of international curling, something that has not been done since Jennifer Jones won the world women’s title in 2018.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni has won the last four world women’s titles, while Sweden’s Niklas Edin has taken the last four world men’s titles. The United States (John Shuster, 2018), Sweden (Edin, 2022 and Anna Hasselborg, 2018) and Great Britain (Eve Muirhead, 2022) have won the Olympic gold medals during that time frame.

It is just a fact that Canada has gone from winning regular world championship and Olympic gold medals regularly up until 2017, to trying to figure out some way to keep up with the best international curling teams on the planet.

Niklas Edin has won four straight world men's championships and took the Olympic gold medal in men's curling in 2022.
Niklas Edin has won four straight world men’s championships and took the Olympic gold medal in men’s curling in 2022. Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA /Getty Images files

“You try to say they’re just another game but it’s really hard to do,” Nichols said, when asked to expand on what makes the worlds so tough to win.

“We’re going to use all of our experience, collectively, through the multiple world championships we’ve been to, the Olympics we’ve all been to, to help ourselves.

Advertisement 4

Article content

“We’ll be in front of a hometown crowd and I think this team does a very good job of getting the crowd involved and enjoying that. When we let the crowd get into the game and play to the crowd a little bit, this team plays better. We can use that momentum as an extra player on our team.”

We’re going to use all of our experience, collectively, through the multiple world championships we’ve been to, the Olympics we’ve all been to, to help ourselves.

Team Canada third Mark Nichols

A little extra momentum might just be enough for this Gushue team, which has been Canada’s best since 2017. The foursome, which included Brett Gallant until E.J. Harnden took over this season, has won five Canadian championships, a world title (2017), two world silver medals (2018, 2022), three Grand Slam titles, an Olympic trials (2021) and an Olympic bronze medal (2022).

Gushue lost to Edin in the semifinal at the Olympics and dropped two world finals to the Swedish great (2018 and 2022) and he knows just how hard it will be to topple the 2022 Olympic gold medallist.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Hard, but not impossible.

“They are tough to beat, they’re one of the best teams in the world,” Gushue said. “We’ve beaten them lots. I think our record is actually much better than theirs against us over the course of our careers. Just the last couple of years, Niklas has had a good run in the worlds and the Olympics.”

Brad Gushue (l to r), Mark Nichols, E.J. Harnden, Geoff Walker and coach Caleb Flaxey will be joined by alternate Ryan Harnden in representing Canada at the world championship in Ottawa.
Brad Gushue (l to r), Mark Nichols, E.J. Harnden, Geoff Walker and coach Caleb Flaxey will be joined by alternate Ryan Harnden in representing Canada at the world championship in Ottawa. Photo by MICHAEL BURNS /Curling Canada files

The world championship begins Saturday and runs till April 9. Other top contenders include Bruce Mouat of Scotland (2022 Olympic silver medallist), Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland, Joel Retornaz of Italy and USA’s Shuster.

Asked to offer a theory as to why Edin has had so much success, Gushue pointed to the fact that he has the opportunity to play in the world championships every year and the Olympics every four years, whereas Canadians have a much tougher road to get to those events.

Advertisement 6

Article content

“They have a luxury that we, as Canadians, don’t necessarily have,” Gushue said.

“They know a fair bit in advance whether they’re going to the worlds or the Olympics. One thing that works against us and (Canadian women’s champion Kerri Einarson), is we only have two and a half weeks to get ready. You really don’t have much time to recover from injuries or anything and you’re forced right back into the world championships.

“Niklas knows he’s going to the worlds for the next number of years and the Olympics and can prepare for that appropriately. That’s not taking anything away because they are, and have been, one of the best teams in the world. Same with Tirinzoni. They are super good teams. But there are some challenges that we face as Canadians that they don’t have to face when we go to worlds and international competitions.”

Advertisement 7

Article content

There are certainly advantages to having the world championship in Canada. The event is run by Curling Canada, in conjunction with the World Curling Federation and that means it will be played in a tried and tested facility, with a familiar ice-maker (Dave Merklinger).

That can make a real difference.

The world women’s championship in Sweden featured some untimely and somewhat severe ice problems, as did the world men’s championship in Las Vegas last year.

In the best of conditions, Gushue has the ability to beat any team in the world.

So it comes down to this:

“Playing the right game at the right time,” Gushue said.

“You use the women’s side as an example. Kerri has had an incredible season, much better than what Silvana has had. It’s just the Swiss team played right at the right time. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”

[email protected]


For more on the world men’s championship and the curling world in general, check out Ted Wyman’s ON THE ROCKS newsletter at torontosun.com/newsletters.


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Join the Conversation

Advertisement 1


Source link

Denial of responsibility! galaxyconcerns is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.