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So far, it's hip hip hooray for Gushue

In this file photo, skip Brad Gushue delivers a rock for sweeper Geoff Walker (top) during play at the 2017 Brier Canadian men's curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John's. Both Gushue and Walker have recovered well from injuries that trouble them last season. That's shown in early results from the 2017-18 curling campaign, including at the Tour Challenge in Regina, where the team is 2-0 so far.
In this file photo, skip Brad Gushue delivers a rock for sweeper Geoff Walker (top) during play at the 2017 Brier Canadian men's curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John's. Both Gushue and Walker have recovered well from injuries that trouble them last season. That's shown in early results from the 2017-18 curling campaign, including at the Tour Challenge in Regina, where the team is 2-0 so far.

There’s quite a bit on the line for Brad Gushue and his world champion rinkmates this week in Regina, site of the Tour Challenge, the first event of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling’s 2017-18 schedule.

Gushue skipped a temporarily drafted mixed team to victory in the $200,000 winner-take-all Everest Challenge in Fredericton, N.B., last month and second Brett Gallant and partner Jocelyn Peterman went all the way to the final of last weekend’s Canad Inn Mixed Doubles Championship in Winnipeg, where third Mark Nichols and lead Geoff Walker were part of teams that got into the quarter-finals.
There’s also the matter of winning the young event for the first time. Gushue, Nichols, Gallant and Walker lost to Kevin Koe in the final of the  inaugural Tour Challenge held at the Paradise Double Ice Complex in 2015. Last year, the St. John’s-based rink made it to the semifinals in Cranbrook, B.C., but without Gushue, who was in the midst of what would turn out to be a lengthy absence from competition because of a hip/groin injury.
And there lies the third, and maybe most important, inducement for Gushue and Co. in Regina — to find out whether the skip’s hip is up to the task.
Same goes for Walker’s shoulder, which he injured during the team’s march to the Brier Canadian men’s championship last winter in St. John’s.
Yes, this marks the third straight week of competition for the foursome, but Gushue points out the Everest Challenge only involved three days, but the Mixed Championships saw the four — along with their partners for the event — playing upwards of nine games in four days. And the Tour Challenge will be played over six days, with the possibility of seven games.
“That’s two straight weeks on the road with a lot of games, so if we both hold up pretty good after we’re through that, we know we’re on the right track,” said Gushue recently.
So far, so good — results- and health-wise.
The rink has had a great start in Regina, defeating veteran Glenn Howard 8-1 Tuesday night and following up with a 6-1 victory over American John Shuster Wednesday. In both games, Gushue curled 100 per cent.
His hip is almost there..
"It's way stronger than it was last year,” said Gushue, who was troubled by the injury all the way through the Brier and the title run at the world men championship in Edmonton.
“I’ve done all the work I needed to do this summer. I’ve been able to run.  I’ve been able to bike. I’ve been able to do all the exercises in the gym.”
The issue is that the injury only really manifests itself when he’s making shots.
“Just doing that specific motion of throwing a curling rock,” he said, “You try to replicate what you do in the gym, but it’s never the same. So as good as it feels, the only way to test it is over time
“That’s the only way to tell how it holds up.”
“The same for Geoff. He’s confident in the work he’s put in and (the shoulder) has felt good for months, but he knows he’ll need this stretch to really find out.”
The Gushiue foursome is set to take on Koe tonight in the top tier of the event which features the top 15 men’s teams on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit. There’s a corresponding women’s event and second tiers for both genders, making 60 teams competing this week.
Which happens to be the first week in September.
Yes summer officially still has half a month to go, and Gushue is already into his third week of competition,
“Our summer was so short, especially with Mark and I opening the business (Orangetheory Fitness) and we were face and eyes into that for a couple of months. In other years, there would have been more time to sit back, relax and enjoy the weather and chill out,” said Gushue, who said he had a particularly hard time explaining to his two young daughters why he’s curling so early this year.
“This is the life we are familiar with and the life that we know, so they understand we would eventually have to get back on the road,” said Gushue “But certainly, they would like to see — as I would — us starting a few weeks later.”
He did note that die-hard curling fans were likely appreciating the action during what’s been a warm late summer, especially with two of the three events being televised  — The Everest Challenge was on TSN and the Tour Challenge is being carried by Sportsnet.
“So they’re enjoying it, even though most will probably be watching with their air conditioners on,” he said with a laugh.

bmcc@thetelegram.com
 

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