Olympic hopes dashed

Robin
Robin Short
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Gushue and company must settle for run at Brier title following early exit from Pre-Trials

With the Brad Gushue curling team's quest for another run at Olympic gold dashed in northern B.C. over the weekend, the question now remains if the team from the Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club is willing to stick together for a run at qualifying for the Sochi, Russia Olympic Games in five years time.

"I can't answer that right now," said Gushue's long-time third, Mark Nichols. "Our goal was Vancouver, and now that's gone. Four years of working towards that goal is a long time, and to grind away at that again starting next year, well ...

Brad Gushue, seen here at the 2009 Brier, was expected to advance from this weekend's Olympic Pre-Trials in Prince George, B.C., but the 2006 Olympic gold medal winner and his rink of Ryan Fry, Mark Nichols and Jamie Korab, lost three straight games to be

With the Brad Gushue curling team's quest for another run at Olympic gold dashed in northern B.C. over the weekend, the question now remains if the team from the Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club is willing to stick together for a run at qualifying for the Sochi, Russia Olympic Games in five years time.

"I can't answer that right now," said Gushue's long-time third, Mark Nichols. "Our goal was Vancouver, and now that's gone. Four years of working towards that goal is a long time, and to grind away at that again starting next year, well ...

"But who knows. Maybe the Trials process will change again. But it will be difficult to commit to starting that again next year."

Gushue, Nichols, and Jamie Korab - reigning Olympic gold medallists - along with Ryan Fry were stunned at the 2010 Olympic Pre-Trials over the weekend in Prince George, B.C. with a 7-5 loss to Quebec's Jean-Michel Menard. It was the Gushue team's third straight defeat in the triple knockout format.

Most curling pundits had Gushue and Co. pegged to emerge from the Pre-Trials. Instead, it will be Wayne Middaugh, Pat Simmons, Jeff Stoughton and young Jason Gunnlaugson joining Glenn Howard, Kevin Martin, Kevin Koe and Randy Ferbey in the Trials next month in Edmonton.

It was a shocking finish to a season that started with promise with a pair of wins on the World Curling Tour. Heading into Prince George, Gushue was 30-8 on the Tour this season and was the third-seeded among 12 teams in the Pre-Trials.

Gushue had a bye in the first round and defeated Greg McAulay in his first game. Then the team dropped three straight games to Simmons, Ted Appleman and Menard.

"Menard made everything," Nichols said of the former Brier winner in Friday's game. "He would have beaten anybody that day.

"But we had made our bed, and now we have to lie in it. It sucks, but ..."

Two days after the loss, the pain lingered for Nichols, the all-world third who played so well in the Olympic gold-medal game three years ago in Torino.

"You try not to think about it," he said Sunday evening, "but everywhere you turn, you're reminded of it. It's impossible not to escape it.

"Thing is, we've had a relatively successful year. We just had a bad weekend. Our timing was all wrong."

The team is scheduled to play in the Sun Life Classic next weekend in Brantford, Ont., but after that, Nichols said, the curlers will be taking a break until after Christmas.

"I know, personally speaking, I want to get away from curling as much as I can," said Nichols.

Odds are the others feel the same way.

Playdowns for the provincial Labatt Tankard men's championship get under way in January, leading up to the Newfoundland and Labrador men's championship Feb. 2-7 at Bally Haly.

So now the team will set its sights on a Tim Horton Brier title for Newfoundland, a championship which has eluded this province since 1976.

Last year, Gushue went 8-3 at the Calgary Brier. Two years ago, the team reached the final at the Hamilton, Ont. Brier.

Still, elite Canadian curling teams have made no secret of the fact it's the Olympic Games that are No. 1 on the radar, and Gushue, Nichols, Fry and Korab are no different.

So when they hit the ice in search of their sixth provincial title in seven years, they'll do so with a heap of disgruntlement.

"It will be tough to forget," acknowledged Nichols, "but once the provincials roll around, and the Olympics are over, it might be different. We can sit and think and wish we were there (in Vancouver), but at the same time, we want to win the Brier.

"We've been close a couple of years. We're right there knocking on the door."

As for next year, who knows. It's not likely Fry, a Winnipeg native, will return to St. John's. He has made it known his reason for coming here was a crack at the Olympics.

Gushue is immersed in his career as a partner in Acme Financial Services, and has a young family.

With regards to Nichols, he scoffed at any suggestion he may look into forming his own team.

"If I don't play with Brad, I'm probably not playing," he said. "Brad, in my opinion, is the best curler in the country, so if I'm not playing with him, it doesn't make sense for me to be playing.

"And if I'm not going to be competitive, I'm not going to play at all. I'm not a guy who is just going to go out and play for fun."

Meanwhile, back in Prince George, Kelly Scott, Krista McCarville, Crystal Webster and Amber Holland were the female teams advancing from the Pre-Trials.

They join Jennifer Jones, Shannon Kleibrink, Cheryl Bernard and Stefanie Lawton in the Trials scheduled for Dec. 6-13 at Edmonton's Rexall Place.

rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Olympic Pre-Trials, Russia Olympic Games, Bally Haly Golf and Curling Club World Curling Tour Calgary Brier Acme Financial Services

Geographic location: Prince George, Vancouver, Northern B.C. Edmonton Quebec Newfoundland and Labrador Torino Brantford Winnipeg St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Curling Fan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    First time, I agree with Telling it like it is from Mount Pearl. In sport you can't blame your failure on one bad day or two. They knew what the stakes were, but just didn't have the magic that brought them to the 2006 Gold medal. In saying that teams from Newfoundland are at a big disadvantage than the rest of Canada. Team Gushue could not practice in the Province until October when the ice is put in the curling clubs. Why should the Olympic champ and 3 ranked team in Canada have to fly to another province to practice when all the big teams in western and central Canada start on-ice training in July. And then when the ice is down, they are not able to get the practice times that they require. This is ridiculous!! But the curling clubs are all there to say that the 2006 olympic Gold Medalists are from their club!

    I don't like the process to get to the trials. It was done this way for one reason only...MONEY! Why would you need to go through a pre-trials and then a trials? So that they can broadcast it and market it! The three Brier Champs, the last Olympic representative, and then the top 12 ranked teams in Canada should go to a 16 team triple knock out trials.

  • Margaret
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Team Gushue are a fairly young team so have lots of opportunities yet for big wins, however, I don't expect this particular four to be together much longer. Russ Howard really won the Gold Medal because more than once he had to call Brad on a bad decision he was going to play.

  • don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Tuff luck. They were playing well. A couple of bad days and its over. Gushue is one of top players around. He is young as curlers go -so im sure there will be more opportunities for briars and olympic berths in his future.

  • Curling Fan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Mark Nichols is the man! Without Mark, Brad Gushue is nothing. In saying that, I agree with Nichols when he says that Brad is the best curler in Canada. They complement each other so well.

    The guys need a period of relaxation from the game, and need to recharge to win the Brier. Four years of Olympic drive can take a toll on everyone involved.

    Hopefully, they commit to the 2014 Games because in this curling fans mind, they will be the Olympic Champs again!

  • Telling it like
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Brad Guhue is as young as they go? Wellhe is nearing 30 and has been playing for at least 15 years.so that is considered young by your standards??

    Now, as for people complaining that one bad weekend cost them an Olympic berth.come on, stop complaining. How many other sports and major tournaments offer do-overs just because one of the opponents had a bad weekend?? If that was the case, every Stanley Cup Final, World Series, World Cup of Soccer; Boxing match must be brought into doubt because of every missed play, every missed call, every post hit could have resulted in a different team winning.

    What total BS - you show up every night, every game and deliver what is expected and if by some chance you're not on your game, that's the human factor people. That's what makes sports interesting.

    If the human factor did not exist, underdogs would have never existed. You can even argue that Team Gushue themselves were the underdog in 2006 as no one expected them to represent Canada, especially his fellow curlers in Central and Western Canada.

    Plain and simple, this time around, they didn't get the job done, other teams did and now its time to reflect on themselves and wonder what changes need to be maded.

    As the article stated, every Canadian curling team worth their weight has stated their goal to be the Olympics.

    The 1982-83 Edmonton were a cocky bunch of superstars who needed to lose to the New York Islanders to learn what it meant to win. Has Brad Gushue done so?maybe, it depends on who you ask. What I can say is thishis highlight was the 2006 Gold Medal but he brought in experience with Russ Howard. Now, with his same team members, they've experienced another blow (add to that the 2006 Brier).

    I hope Brad and his teammates are back again to their winning ways and whatever the future has in store, I hope it brings them success and happiness.

    But to make up excuses for a game where like in every other game, everyone has the potential to win or lose on any given night is just plain sad.

  • Joanne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Team Gushue are excellent curlers; however, I've always said that it was Russ Howard who actually won the Olympic Good Medal. Now that speaks for itself.
    In the meantime, Team Gushue, I am really very sorry that you were eliminated from the Olympic Pre-Trials in Edmonton.
    Guess it's good-bye already to Ryan Fry.

  • Frank M
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    The curing playdowns in Canada are as competitive as the Olympics themselves. Team Gushue started off really well this season but good fortune was not with them this time.

    No one can ever take away their 2006 Olympic gold medal.

  • Mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    What doesn't kill you will make you stronger! That's what my mom would say when we had an upsetting incident. Nobody died last week, it is only a game, and this experience will make the boys tougher to beat in the future. They are young and as good as any curler going to the trials. Only one team will go on from the trials, seven will be disappointed. Gushue and his team will be over their disappointment by then and ready to roll. Looking forward to watching them in Halifax at the Brier. Go Brad, Mark, Ryand and Jamie!

    Great article by Mark; you are indeed an honorable man and a loyal team member.

  • Sherry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    I have watched EVERY televised game that Team Gushue have played since 1999. That boy (and in the curling world he is very much a boy), can curl with the best of them. He is ranked 4th in the world on the world curling tour. He had a bad weekend that is plain and simple, he will be back. He will win the Brier and we need to stand behind him and continue to support him not just when he wins but also when he has a bad day!!!

  • Curling fan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Mark, I believe your position should be secure on Brad's team. Nice article.

  • Anthony
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Telling.....you almost sound like you know what you are talking about.

  • Disappointed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Canada doesn't have a history of sending it's best curling teams to the Olympics. I think what happened at the past couple of Trials is that the #1 teams went in with a sense of entitlement, instead of working their tails off to put their best game on the ice. I figure that's what happened with this team at the Pre-Trials. Disappointing, I was hoping they'd get a chance to defend their Olympic Gold Medals.

  • Bert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Brad the best in Canada..HMMM I wonder where Glen Howard, Wayne Middaugh, Russ Howard or Kevin Martin would place.
    By the way who are Simmons And Appleman? I believe I heard of Menard, He was a decent curler a few years ago, Although not in the same category with the Martins, Howards and Werenichs.

  • James
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    As disappointed as the boys must feel, this is sport and one bad day or two can be the difference. However, they have too much skill and experience not to continue having a successful curling career and anther run in 2014. Sherry Middaugh had 4 tries to get to the Olympics, so lots of time. Good luck for the rest of the year and bring home the Brier!

  • Curling Fan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    First time, I agree with Telling it like it is from Mount Pearl. In sport you can't blame your failure on one bad day or two. They knew what the stakes were, but just didn't have the magic that brought them to the 2006 Gold medal. In saying that teams from Newfoundland are at a big disadvantage than the rest of Canada. Team Gushue could not practice in the Province until October when the ice is put in the curling clubs. Why should the Olympic champ and 3 ranked team in Canada have to fly to another province to practice when all the big teams in western and central Canada start on-ice training in July. And then when the ice is down, they are not able to get the practice times that they require. This is ridiculous!! But the curling clubs are all there to say that the 2006 olympic Gold Medalists are from their club!

    I don't like the process to get to the trials. It was done this way for one reason only...MONEY! Why would you need to go through a pre-trials and then a trials? So that they can broadcast it and market it! The three Brier Champs, the last Olympic representative, and then the top 12 ranked teams in Canada should go to a 16 team triple knock out trials.

  • Margaret
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Team Gushue are a fairly young team so have lots of opportunities yet for big wins, however, I don't expect this particular four to be together much longer. Russ Howard really won the Gold Medal because more than once he had to call Brad on a bad decision he was going to play.

  • don
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Tuff luck. They were playing well. A couple of bad days and its over. Gushue is one of top players around. He is young as curlers go -so im sure there will be more opportunities for briars and olympic berths in his future.

  • Curling Fan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Mark Nichols is the man! Without Mark, Brad Gushue is nothing. In saying that, I agree with Nichols when he says that Brad is the best curler in Canada. They complement each other so well.

    The guys need a period of relaxation from the game, and need to recharge to win the Brier. Four years of Olympic drive can take a toll on everyone involved.

    Hopefully, they commit to the 2014 Games because in this curling fans mind, they will be the Olympic Champs again!

  • Telling it like
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Brad Guhue is as young as they go? Wellhe is nearing 30 and has been playing for at least 15 years.so that is considered young by your standards??

    Now, as for people complaining that one bad weekend cost them an Olympic berth.come on, stop complaining. How many other sports and major tournaments offer do-overs just because one of the opponents had a bad weekend?? If that was the case, every Stanley Cup Final, World Series, World Cup of Soccer; Boxing match must be brought into doubt because of every missed play, every missed call, every post hit could have resulted in a different team winning.

    What total BS - you show up every night, every game and deliver what is expected and if by some chance you're not on your game, that's the human factor people. That's what makes sports interesting.

    If the human factor did not exist, underdogs would have never existed. You can even argue that Team Gushue themselves were the underdog in 2006 as no one expected them to represent Canada, especially his fellow curlers in Central and Western Canada.

    Plain and simple, this time around, they didn't get the job done, other teams did and now its time to reflect on themselves and wonder what changes need to be maded.

    As the article stated, every Canadian curling team worth their weight has stated their goal to be the Olympics.

    The 1982-83 Edmonton were a cocky bunch of superstars who needed to lose to the New York Islanders to learn what it meant to win. Has Brad Gushue done so?maybe, it depends on who you ask. What I can say is thishis highlight was the 2006 Gold Medal but he brought in experience with Russ Howard. Now, with his same team members, they've experienced another blow (add to that the 2006 Brier).

    I hope Brad and his teammates are back again to their winning ways and whatever the future has in store, I hope it brings them success and happiness.

    But to make up excuses for a game where like in every other game, everyone has the potential to win or lose on any given night is just plain sad.

  • Joanne
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Team Gushue are excellent curlers; however, I've always said that it was Russ Howard who actually won the Olympic Good Medal. Now that speaks for itself.
    In the meantime, Team Gushue, I am really very sorry that you were eliminated from the Olympic Pre-Trials in Edmonton.
    Guess it's good-bye already to Ryan Fry.

  • Frank M
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    The curing playdowns in Canada are as competitive as the Olympics themselves. Team Gushue started off really well this season but good fortune was not with them this time.

    No one can ever take away their 2006 Olympic gold medal.

  • Mary
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    What doesn't kill you will make you stronger! That's what my mom would say when we had an upsetting incident. Nobody died last week, it is only a game, and this experience will make the boys tougher to beat in the future. They are young and as good as any curler going to the trials. Only one team will go on from the trials, seven will be disappointed. Gushue and his team will be over their disappointment by then and ready to roll. Looking forward to watching them in Halifax at the Brier. Go Brad, Mark, Ryand and Jamie!

    Great article by Mark; you are indeed an honorable man and a loyal team member.

  • Sherry
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    I have watched EVERY televised game that Team Gushue have played since 1999. That boy (and in the curling world he is very much a boy), can curl with the best of them. He is ranked 4th in the world on the world curling tour. He had a bad weekend that is plain and simple, he will be back. He will win the Brier and we need to stand behind him and continue to support him not just when he wins but also when he has a bad day!!!

  • Curling fan
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Mark, I believe your position should be secure on Brad's team. Nice article.

  • Anthony
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Telling.....you almost sound like you know what you are talking about.

  • Disappointed
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Canada doesn't have a history of sending it's best curling teams to the Olympics. I think what happened at the past couple of Trials is that the #1 teams went in with a sense of entitlement, instead of working their tails off to put their best game on the ice. I figure that's what happened with this team at the Pre-Trials. Disappointing, I was hoping they'd get a chance to defend their Olympic Gold Medals.

  • Bert
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Brad the best in Canada..HMMM I wonder where Glen Howard, Wayne Middaugh, Russ Howard or Kevin Martin would place.
    By the way who are Simmons And Appleman? I believe I heard of Menard, He was a decent curler a few years ago, Although not in the same category with the Martins, Howards and Werenichs.

  • James
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    As disappointed as the boys must feel, this is sport and one bad day or two can be the difference. However, they have too much skill and experience not to continue having a successful curling career and anther run in 2014. Sherry Middaugh had 4 tries to get to the Olympics, so lots of time. Good luck for the rest of the year and bring home the Brier!