Before first rocks were throw in the Boost National, the latest Grand Slam of Curling event staged in Newfoundland, this time in C.B.S., Brad Gushue was sizing up his season so far on the World Curling Tour.
Not bad. But not great, either.
Which, now that the National bonspiel for this season is over and done with, kind of sums up his team’s latest outing.
Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker, the hometown favourites who drew quite the following for five days at the spiffy, new C.B.S. Arena, was ousted from contention Saturday with a 7-5 quarter-final loss to Bruce Mouat of Scotland.
The St. John’s-based Gushue foursome was 3-3 in the 15-team event.
The National was the seventh event Gushue and Co. have appeared in this season, and it was his third quarter-final loss, the others coming in the Masters and Tour Challenge.
Team Gushue won the Princess Auto Elite 10 back in September, and finished runner-up in the China Open and Stu Sells Halifax 1824 Classic.
The team reached the Canada Cup semifinal earlier this month.
“There were a couple of good games when we seemed like we were the normal Team Gushue,” he said of his showing this past week, “but then there were a couple of others when it was like, ‘Who the heck are these guys?’”
Gushue opened the event with an 8-6 loss to Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller, and then thumped Ross Paterson of Scotland 8-1. He followed that up with a 5-3 win over another Swiss rink, skipped by Peter de Cruz, then lost 6-5 to Mouat in his final preliminary round game Friday.
That loss forced a tie-breaker Friday night, which he won with a 4-1 decision in the rematch with Schwaller.
But Mouat had Gushue’s number again Saturday afternoon.
In Sunday’s final — a first for the Slam to have two Scottish teams vying for a championship — Paterson beat Mouat 4-3 in an extra end.
“Bruce was really good (in the quarter-final game),” Gushue said. “Don’t get me wrong, we had a few misses, too. I’m not going to shy away from that. But they played extremely well.
“That’s the nature of the game now. Teams are all so good that you have to curl 90 per cent if you want a chance to win.”
The four curlers will take a break from the game for a couple of weeks, “throwing minimal rocks.
“I’m feeling a bit sore so I’ll take a couple of weeks to get rested and healthy and get prepared for the second half of the season,” he said.
January will be busy for the team with the Meridian Canadian Open Jan. 8-13 in North Battleford, Sask., followed by the Continental Cup Jan. 17-20 in Las Vegas., Then it’s the TSN Skins Game Feb. 1-3 in Banff, Alta.
Gushue, the reigning two-time Tim Hortons Brier champ, won’t have to go through provincial playdowns as he enters the 2019 Brier in Brandon, Man. as Team Canada.
“We’ll be practicing hard in February,” he said, “because we know we have two or three or up to four months of hard curling ahead of us. If you don’t take a break, all of a sudden it turns into eight straight months. That’s hard for any athlete.”
In the women’s final at the Boost National Sunday, following the Mouat-Paterson men’s championship, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan defeated Kerri Einarson of Winnipeg 4-1.