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Mix, Fry till golden, then come home

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Ryan Fry has found the success he couldn't seem to achieve in Manitoba.

ROBERT F. BUKATY / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Ryan Fry has found the success he couldn't seem to achieve in Manitoba.

SOCHI, Russia — Ryan Fry had to leave our province to chase his curling dreams. Now, he’s bringing gold back to Manitoba. 

Fry grew up in Manitoba the son of a curling icon. A legend he so much wanted to be like.

Maybe that ambition burned a little too hot when he was younger and maybe Fry rubbed a few people the wrong way on his way up. His dreams were big. Hauling them around could be awkward at times and it made it hard for him to find his space.

He’s found it now.

Those dreams have been melted down into a golden disc and can hang nicely around his neck.

That’s right, Ryan Fry, curling upstart and the son of Brier champion Barry Fry has his own legacy now. He’s an Olympic champion.

Fry, along with skip Brad Jacobs and the Harnden brothers E.J. and Ryan won a gold medal at the Olympics Friday with a 9-3 spanking of Great Britain.

It wasn’t even close and they shook hands after eight ends. Jacobs and Fry, along with the front-end brushing brothers, were brilliant in victory hitting almost every shot and pushing the scoring pace with points in almost every end until Britain decided they’d had enough.

Curling is a small fraternity, and in Manitoba it can be cliquey. Not that it’s fair to say Fry was chased out of the province. But there wasn’t a fit for him here and he left to find a team where he could be comfortable. 

"It’s about maturing and growing up. It happens to everyone. It happened to me in both curling and life. I always knew, even at a young age, what it would take to get to this level and what kind of team it would take," Fry said Friday, minutes after running a glorious victory lap with his teammates around the Ice Cube curling venue here, a Canadian flag streaming behind him.

"I searched for it for a long time." 

"But there are only so many openings in this sport. You can’t always handpick your team and some of the people I’ve been with may not have wanted me. But I’m with the right mix now. This team was meant to be together."

Fry formed his own team throwing skip stones. Didn’t work.

He tried curling third with Manitoba forever champion Jeff Stoughton. Didn’t work.

Then it was off to Newfoundland and Brad Gushue. Didn’t work.

No one questioned Fry’s talent or his commitment. But there was something stopping him from finding the right situation and the right team to allow him to be himself and achieve his dreams.

And those dreams were big. The biggest. 

"I gave everything I have to this sport and I’ve done it for a lot of years. I’ve taken a lot of losses and I’ve rebounded," said Fry. "I’ve gotten kicked off teams and I’ve left teams. It comes with the territory. But if you commit and give yourself to something, good things happen to you."

Fry joined up with Jacobs and his Northern Ontario team in 2012 and as he said earlier this week, "we felt like brothers from the very beginning." They curled like it too. Reaching the Brier in 2012, winning it in 2013 and finishing second at that year’s worlds. 

"Ryan made us complete. He finished the puzzle. He’s a talent and he’s like a brother. He just fit right away," said E.J. Harnden.

Fry was getting closer. Maybe the ambition had cooled a bit, but it was still there. He didn’t want to just be a curler and take part in the conversation when bar room talk got started. He wanted the conversation to be about him. Now it is. And will be forever. 

Fry likely never imagined leaving Manitoba to wear another province’s crest when he was growing up, but he wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of his goals.

"It’s 100 per cent worth it. It was worth it before we won this. I’m a curler. That’s what I am," he said.

"I love to compete and I’ve had the opportunity to play with some great players. But this time I’ve gotten to play with a great team. I couldn’t be happier with the way my life has led to this. And I couldn’t be happier having these guys to go to battle with."

Now after travelling the country to find his band of brothers, then invading Russia to take on the world, Fry says it’s time to come home.

"I’m a Manitoba boy. A Winnipeg boy. And I love my hometown," he said with a smile. "I can’t wait to take this there and share it with friends and family." 

Come on home, Ryan. Manitoba wants to salute you.

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca 

Twitter: @garylawless

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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