There was no way Parker and Spencer Tipple were going to miss the final of the 2018 Brier final.
It was a matter of family, after all.
The Tipple brothers, who are competing in curling at the 2018 NL Winter Games in Deer Lake, are the nephews of Brad Gushue, who won his second consecutive Brier Canadian men’s championship Sunday night in Regina.
Their mother, Natasha, is Gushue’s sister.
From the beginning of the Brier, the two young curlers — Parker is the skip and Spencer is the lead for a team that also includes Alexander Hanrahan and Noah Hawkins — were glued to whatever screen they could find in order to watch Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker make their run to another Canadian title.
That became a little tougher after arriving in Deer Lake, but they improvised.
The pair, armed with their iPads and ensconced in the Games athletes village at Elwood High School in Deer Lake, were able to watch as Gushue and Team Canada defeated Alberta in the final. Along with fellow curlers from St. John’s North, the Tipples and their teammates watched the game in their bunks with blankets pulled over their heads.
Parker, the eldest at 12, managed to catch the whole thing, but 11-year-old Spencer fell asleep before Gushue’s draw to the button in the 10th end that sealed the victory.
“We were really big hockey fans,” said Parker. “We never really watched curling and we weren’t really into curling. “(But) with (Uncle Brad) winning the Brier, it gave us a little bit of confidence and we wanted to try it.”
Prior to moving to Mount Pearl two years ago, the Tipples had very little experience with their uncle’s sport. They played hockey and were members of the Bay Arena Minor Hockey Association, but hadn’t curled.
The curling club in Harbour Grace — which fostered Gushue’s former Olympic teammate Jamie Korab — is now a furniture store, having been closed for more than a decade.
Despite a lack of access, the boys still tried the sport whenever they spent time in St. John’s with their uncle.
“He took us down on the ice a few times,” said Spencer.
When the family moved to the metro area, it was only natural for them to throw themselves into the game full time.
When they’re not playing hockey with the Mount Pearl Blades minor association, the Tipple brothers are probably at the RE/Max Centre in St. John’s honing their craft.
“They’re watching curling either on television or on their iPads whenever they get a chance,” said their dad Sean as he watched his sons prepare for a Monday game at the Corner Brook Curling Club, the venue for rock-tossers at these Games. Spending a couple of minutes watching the pair, it's easy to see they've received some solid advice from their uncle. Whenever they get the chance, they’ve asked Gushue for help with shots and ideas on what approaches he’d take in certain situations.
Spencer is quick to bellow instructions after throwing a rock, while Parker displays some of the same mannerisms as his uncle.
Along with Hanrahan and Hawkins, the Tipples have fashioned a 2-1 record at the Games, including a 9-5 win over St. John’s North on Monday. That puts them into the bronze-medal game against Labrador today. Meanwhile, Central and Western meet in the gold-medal final of what will be the final day of competition in the first half of the Games.
At 11 and 12, there is a chance the Tipples will be competing in the provincial Games again four years down the road.
For now, they’re concentrating on getting better and maybe picking up a medal.
“We’ve been working so hard to win games and everything,” said. “Being here has been a really good experience.”