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Roar of the Rings

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gushue after more than serving fruit

Torino gold medallist wants another in Sochi

Posted: 12/1/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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He's got a successful business, a wife, two kids and a lot better things to do with his life than spend a week in Winnipeg in December cutting up fruit into bite-size pieces for Kevin Martin.

So why on Earth is Brad Gushue doing that for the next week at the MTS Centre as the fifth for Martin's Edmonton juggernaut at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings?

Well, it turns out that winning an Olympic gold medal -- as Gushue did skipping Canada's curling team in Torino in 2006 -- not only didn't satisfy him, it whetted his appetite for more.

"Olympics -- that's the only reason I'm here," Gushue said Saturday as he and his squad got in one final practice in advance of today's opening draws.

"If this was the Brier or something like that, I probably wouldn't be here. And that's not to take anything away from the Brier, but there's a Brier every year. But another chance to go to the Olympics? You can't turn it down. And I think Kevin has a great chance of winning."

So do a lot of other people, including oddsmakers, who have listed Martin right alongside Ontario's Glenn Howard and Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton as co-favourites heading into an event that will determine Canada's men's and women's curling representatives in Sochi.

Gushue's Olympic experience, which included a heart-stopping win over Stoughton in the Trials final in 2005 in Halifax, would be a priceless asset for any team this week other than Martin's.

And that's the quirk of this arrangement -- Martin, as well as second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert have their own Olympic gold medals from Vancouver in 2010. And Martin trumps them all, having also won a silver medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.

So if it isn't valuable Olympic experience -- which the Martin team already has in spades -- what is it exactly that Gushue brings to this group?

Well, for starters, he's an insurance policy for Martin, who hurt his back on the cashspiel circuit earlier this season and was laid up for over a week.

Plus, Gushue has shown himself to be an able sweeper if he's called upon to play another position this week. The season he won gold in Torino, he threw fourth rocks but also did lots of sweeping on a team in which Russ Howard anchored the house while throwing second stones.

So put it all together and Gushue says he is more or less just insuring the Martin team against disaster in Winnipeg -- and picking up a free trip to Sochi for himself as a reward if the team happens to win here.

"If we get into a situation this week where I have to come in, I'm not going to be awestruck or anything by it because I've been in it already -- and been successful at it," Gushue explained. "And that's a key thing, I think -- you don't want someone on your team who is going to suddenly do something different the night before a big game.

"So they've got that assurance that I'm not going to do that because I've been there. But hopefully everyone is healthy and playing well and my job will be to help out by matching rocks and scouting other teams or just peeling oranges."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 1, 2013 $sourceSection0

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