Gauthier making his mark on west coast pebble
Ex-pat Manitoban to represent B.C. at Brier
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A day before clinching a spot at this year’s Brier, Jacques Gauthier was at a hospital hooked up to an IV.
An illness forced the 24-year-old from Winnipeg, who now skips a rink out of Victoria, to miss the 1 vs. 2 playoff game Saturday morning in Chilliwack at the B.C. Men’s Provincial Curling championship.
“Throughout Chilliwack there was a bit of a bug going around,” Gauthier told the Free Press on Monday.
“We had dinner with family on Friday and then we got back to the AirBnB and I wasn’t feeling great. For the next nine-10 hours, it was just constant. I couldn’t even drink water and keep it in my body. Not only was I worried about playing, but I was worried about whether or not I’d even be able to leave the house.”
Gauthier didn’t sleep all night. To even have a chance at playing a potential Sunday final, it was recommended that he seek medical care in order to get some fluids in his system. He ended up spending Saturday afternoon at a local hospital.
Fortunately for Gauthier, third Sterling Middleton, second Jason Ginter, and lead Alex Horvath came up big without him as they cruised to an 8-3 victory over Vernon’s Jim Cotter. They made sure they had a piece of Gauthier with them for the game as they displayed their skip’s throwing broom behind the sheet.
“I didn’t know that until after the game… I got a little choked up after hearing that because to me, it kind of shows what I mean to them and obviously what they mean to me as well,” said Gauthier.
“And you know, sometimes the skip gets a little too much credit. Our team is nothing without the three guys in front of me.”
Gauthier, who skipped a Manitoba team to World Junior Curling Championship gold in 2020, wasn’t feeling 100 per cent on Sunday, but he rallied and guided the group to an 8-5 victory over Kelowna’s Brent Pierce in the final. With the win, Gauthier will represent B.C. at the 2023 Brier in London, Ont., in March.
“The Brier is what I’ve been watching forever. Even when I was in high school, don’t tell my mom (Cathy Gauthier) this, but I’d skip class if there was a good game on like if it was Kevin Koe playing Brad Gushue or something I’d leave a little early to try to catch the end of it,” said Gauthier.
“Or at work, not now, of course, but when I was working different jobs over the years, I would stream games. I just love the Brier. It’s everything everybody plays for. It’s one of the oldest things that curling has and I think it’s the biggest thing we have in Canada for the sport. To play in front of potentially thousands of people live and hopefully hundreds of thousands streaming abroad is something tough to conceptualize right now.”
This is Gauthier’s first year curling out of B.C. and only his second since leaving the junior ranks. Last season he curled with third Jordan Peters and second Brayden Payette, who he won world juniors with, and Cole Chandler at lead. Payette decided this past off-season to take a step back from the sport, leading to Gauthier exploring his options.
An opportunity with Middleton and Ginter came up as their previous skip, Gauthier’s first cousin Tyler Tardi, a tw0-time world junior champion, signed up to play third for Koe.
Middleton reached out to Gauthier and the rest is history. They didn’t start the year hot, but they’re now ranked 16th in the country with a combined 29-21 record.
“For me, I gotta be honest, it’ll be a little weird wearing B.C. colours at the Brier. Growing up my dream was always to wear Manitoba colours at the Brier, but it doesn’t make it any less special,” said Gauthier.
“We just want to make ourselves proud and make the province proud. We’re a young team so I don’t know what to expect with it being our first Brier, but I think we can be competitive.”
Manitoba Open Bonspiel concludes
The Manitoba Open Bonspiel wrapped up Monday at the Fort Garry Curling Club. Three teams from the event earned berths to the Viterra Championship (Feb. 7-12) in Neepawa. The teams are Winnipeg Beach’s Justin Reynolds (ASHAM), Assiniboine’s Joey Witherspoon (Original 16), and Richard Muntain of the Granite Curling Club (Nott Autocorp).
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...
Updated on Monday, January 16, 2023 9:34 PM CST: Adds Manitoba bonspiel info