The father/daughter team of Brad and Hayley Gushue made its competitive debut at the Newfoundland and Labrador mixed doubles curling championship Wednesday, but you could say their first-ever mixed doubles collaboration took place two years ago.
It’s a given Hayley Gushue’s interest in curling is fostered by the fact her dad is one of sport’s best-ever players, but it might be the other way around when it comes to Brad Gushue’s willing participation in mixed doubles. The credit there could very well go to his 12-year-old daughter, who is his partner in provincial play at the Re/Max Centre in St. John’s this week.
And there is more to Dad’s motivation than an opportunity for some on-ice family bonding.
Two years ago, it was a then 10-year-old Hayley who encouraged her father’s interest in mixed doubles at a time when his feelings about the version of the game could be described as lukewarm.
Team Gushue takeover for the week! Brad and Hayley are Team Gushue at the provincial mixed doubles championship. Should be a fun week pic.twitter.com/C6pbaH4dn3— Team Gushue (@TeamGushue) February 12, 2020
He was getting ready for the Portage la Prairie, Man., trials to select Canada’s mixed doubles entry for the 2018 Winter Olympics, but was admittedly bummed after he and his St. John’s rink had failed to get to the Olympics through the men’s team trials a few weeks earlier. What’s more, he had little mixed doubles experience, with only a couple of events on his record.
So he wasn’t feeling energized going into the mixed doubles trials, where he was paired with Alberta’s Val Sweeting.
Buy Hayley had more of an appreciation of the two-person game and got her father to join her in watching some mixed doubles competition as a way of helping him being better prepared for the trials.
Brad Gushue later told the Winnipeg Sun’s Ted Wyman that he was glad for Hayley’s insistence, agreeing he otherwise probably wouldn’t have engaged in what were, in part, study sessions.
“I wasn’t much of a studier in school either. (Hayley) forced me to watch a few games and I learned a little bit,” he told Wyman.
It apparently paid off as he and Sweeting went all the way to the final at the mixed doubles trials, losing to eventual Olympic gold-medal winners John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes.
The Gushues lost their first game of the provincials, falling 8-7 Wednesday morning to the defending N.L. mixed doubles champions, Jenna Harvey and Dave Thomas of Port aux Basques.
There are 10 teams in the competition, meaning each will play nine games in a preliminary round-robin that ends Saturday morning.