From the pebble to the broadcast booth, Brier a family affair for the Gauthiers


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Sports broadcasters are trained to call things down the middle and not have a rooting interest.

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Sports broadcasters are trained to call things down the middle and not have a rooting interest.

It sounds simple enough, but it isn’t so easy when your son is on the ice competing in his first Brier and you’re up in the broadcast booth commentating on the action.

It’s a unique situation, and one Cathy Gauthier — a three-time Scotties champion who’s now a broadcaster for TSN — finds herself in this week in London, Ont., as her 24-year-old son Jacques is skipping Team B.C.

To Cathy’s credit, she’s handled it as well as anyone could. However, she’s had some help behind the scenes.

“It’s hard, like when we went to his game, I have my finger over my mute button because what I say when he misses a shot or shots are rolling out, cannot go on the air,” laughed Cathy.

Cathy’s mute button was put to work Wednesday morning when TSN’s feed jumped to the B.C.-Quebec game where Jacques lost a 7-6 heartbreaker in an extra end to Felix Asselin.

Jacques was officially eliminated in the late draw after falling 10-6 to Ontario’s Mike McEwen (5-2) to drop to 2-5.

The Gauthiers hail from Winnipeg, but Jacques joined a young team out West featuring third Sterling Middleton, second Jason Ginter and lead Alex Horvath as an import this past off-season. With Gauthier in charge, they won the provincial crown and entered men’s curling nationals at No. 16 in the Canadian Team Ranking System.

“In some ways, it’s easier than if I wasn’t working and if I was just here as a parent because then in between all of his games, I would be sitting and looking at the draw and fretting and worrying about what he’s going to do with the next game. When I’m working all the draws, I don’t have time to worry about him until he’s on the ice,” said Cathy, who won her first two Canadian women’s titles with Connie Laliberte (1992 and 1995), and third with Jennifer Jones (2005).

“But it’s so hard because I know how much this means to him and how hard they have all worked. The amount of time that he’s been home this year has been so little because of all the flights.”

This isn’t new to Cathy and Jacques. If anything, it’s a bit easier compared to what they’ve experienced in the past.

“This week was probably nerve-wracking for her, but I think the worst two games for her to cover were my 2019 and 2020 Canadian junior final finals. We lost the 2019 one to my cousin Tyler Tardi (who now plays third for Alberta’s Kevin Koe) on the last rock and we won the 2020 one. Those were big, big games and she was the main commentator. It was tough for her to try to stay level and stay unbiased, but I think she did and she did a great job,” Jacques said.

“But the 2019 one definitely sucked because my cousin won the Canadian juniors, but he got past me, and we’re super close. We’re like brothers. So, she was happy for him, but sad for me at the same time. It just wasn’t a good situation for all involved.”

Jacques, who went on to win the 2020 world junior title, was an alternate for Jason Gunnlaugson and Team Manitoba at the 2021 Brier

As for getting interviewed by his own mother, Jacques doesn’t see it as all that strange.

“I guess for me, it’s kinda normal. For most people it’d be weird. I’ve seen her interviews growing up all the time and I got to see it firsthand again when I was an alternate at the Brier, so I know what kind of questions they ask. She’s a pro, so from both sides, it’s pretty much just a business interaction,” said Jacques.

“… But it is pretty cool to have her here. And my sister (Gaetanne) is also working with the TSN crew (helping with stats and as a spotter) this week which is pretty neat.”

This week has had its ups and downs — which is what you’d expect from a rookie on this stage. Jacques had an encouraging start to the 18-team event as he took Canada’s Brad Gushue to the limit in the opener and only lost by one. The following day, Jacques blew a 6-1 lead against Yukon’s Thomas Scoffin before losing 10-8.

Jacques plays his final game Thursday at 6 p.m. CT against Prince Edward Island’s Tyler Smith (2-5).

“You look at the standings and the older guys at the top, they had their first Briers, too, and had their learning curves. Even a guy like Brendan Bottcher went 3-8 at his first Brier and then the next year he was in the final. We just have to take what we’ve learned from this and try to squeeze as much as we can out of it,” said Jacques.

While Jacques always gets asked about his mother, he makes sure people know that his father, Ron Gauthier, has also played a huge role in him getting to this point. Ron also made the trip to London.

“My mom always coached my sister, and my dad coached me. My dad was a very high level player as well. He kicked around on the world curling tour and lost a provincial final in the early 2000s. He just grew up in the wrong era playing Jeff Stoughton, Kerry Burtnyk, Vic Peters and all those guys. It was super tough to get out of Manitoba,” said Jacques.

“He was the kind of guy that showed me the ropes, and I could go to for technical and strategy advice. Even at home with my mom, I’d bounce some stuff off of her as well.”

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...

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