Early ice

Bradley Bouzane
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Gushue has the money if rinks have the time

Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue. Photo by The Canadian Press

Brad Gushue has some extra cash burning a hole in his pocket and hopes it can result in ice being installed more than a month early in the capital region.

Gushue and Co. were awarded a $6,000 grant from the Canadian Curling Association to have ice put down six weeks early for more practice time as one of the countrys top teams.

The top eight mens and womens teams on the Canadian Team Ranking System chart were each awarded grants by the CCA, and Gushue hopes to take full advantage. But hell need the help of other top curlers in the area to get it off the ground.

Need to start early

Other teams that are competing on the (World Curling) Tour start in early September, so for us during a regular year, wed probably play in two or three events before we even get to practice, which puts us at a severe competitive disadvantage especially when youre trying to build up points to get to the Olympic trials, said Gushue of the local curling clubs, which generally open their doors to curlers in October.

Wed be much more prepared and it would give us time to work on some technical issues at the beginning of the season. From a club standpoint, its a good opportunity to promote the game.

Both Bally Haly and the Re/Max Centre (formerly the St. Johns Curling Club) were approached by Gushue as potential venues to use the grant money to have ice installed in August, but now its down to the latter as Bally Haly denied the request outright, Gushue said.

He said the CCA is pushing hard for confirmation because if a rink in St. Johns wont install the ice early, a facility in Moncton, N.B. has already agreed to use the money for the same purpose. The CCA designated Moncton as a prime location because it could be used by a number of high-end teams.

Gushue said the grant money would cover a significant portion of the funds needed to get the ice, saying it would likely represent well over half of the total cost. He doesnt think it would take much cooperation from other curlers to get the rocks moving.

If you can get 40 competitive curlers each chipping in $100, all of a sudden, thats another $4,000 that can go towards it, Gushue said.

I hope this can work because itll be good for the game and for the curlers and its not an opportunity that will come by every year. It was based on our performance last year and if our team or another (Newfoundland) team doesnt have the same kind of year, we wont get the grant again.

Team Gushue finished fifth on the CTRS, behind Kevin Martin, Randy Ferbey, Glenn Howard and Kevin Koe.

No problem

The only restriction on the ice time would be that teams selected by the CCA have priority when it comes to booking time. But Gushue said that would not be a big problem in St. Johns.

Despite the desire for an earlier start, Gushue doesnt see the need for curling much like hockey in recent years in St. Johns to transform into a 12-month sport. In fact, Gushue likes the few months off after a hectic schedule on the World Curling Tour.

We dont want to see a year-round sport, but for our team on a competitive level, wed like to see it at the start of September you do need a rest at some point and it is nice to get away for a while.

For our team, Id just love to see us more level with the teams from the rest of Canada. Right now, teams in Alberta and Ontario have an advantage because theres usually a club somewhere in those provinces that has the ice on at the beginning of August or middle of July.

A lot of those teams are in mid-season form come September, whereas a lot of teams in Atlantic Canada and Quebec have to wait until October to practice.

Its a way of evening out the field and raising the level of play here and we hope we can make this work.


Organizations: Canadian Curling Association, Canadian Team Ranking System, World Curling Tour Max Centre Johns Curling Club

Geographic location: Moncton, Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland Alberta Ontario Quebec

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