CALGARY – I love the Brier.
I can’t get enough of it.
Every year at this time I watch the Scotties as a warm-up. And this year the Tim Hortons Brier is in my hometown, so I get to go and watch four curling games at once.
It might not be the best of the best in curling – although this year, almost – but there is something about the Brier that gets me every time. Whether it’s every province for itself, or those jackets and purple hearts, the Brier is the one event that gets me worked up.
But there is one thing I like best of all. And that is when a new Brier champion is crowned. I was never a Mark Dacey fan, but in 2004 when he beat Randy Ferbey to win his first Brier I jumped about three feet in the air.
This year, however, there are so many returning champs it’s hard for me to pick an underdog to cheer for. I have Kevin Martin lash at the best of times, so when he won the Alberta provincials I knew I’d be looking for someone else to watch. And Glenn Howard won two years ago, and also has a bye to the Olympic Trials so... yawn.... (haha, that didn’t stop me from cheering for Jennifer Jones in the Scotties final. By the way – YES!)
P.S. My husband is cheering for Glenn all the way.
We all know who is going to be there in the end. So instead of making picks I am going to list my hopeful dark horses. Yep, I’m going to focus on the guys who might make some waves and rattle some cages en route to the playoffs.
I like Brad Gushue’s chances to stir things up with his Newfoundland squad. He is intent on proving that his 2006 Olympic gold medal was not a fluke... he doesn’t need to prove it to me, of course, his team played great. I actually think Gushue – or Goosh, as I like to call him – appears to be a tad conceited...? I suppose he’s entitled, and I’ve always said you had to be a little weird to be a skip. But he’s never won a Brier, coming oh-so-close against Howard in 2007.
Obviously Jeff Stoughton from Manitoba is on a roll, and he’s a no brainer playoff contender.
Nova Scotia’s Dacey and Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard...? Nah.
Russ Howard and the boys from New Brunswick? Don’t feel it.
Left in the hunt are five other skips who have not represented Canada on an international stage: BC’s Sean Geall, NWT’s Jamie Koe, Saskatchewan’s Joel Jordison, Northern Ontario’s Mike Jakubo and PEI’s Rod MacDonald. None of them have ever come close. Okay fine, Koe narrowly missed playoffs a couple times. And Brent Pierce, third for Team BC, is a previous world champ, I know, I know. So shall I pick one of these five teams to scrape their way to the playoff weekend?
Sure. I pick Joel Jordison and his team from Moose Jaw to make the playoffs. They’re sitting at a respectable 10th place on the money list, and managed to get past Pat Simmons in the Saskatchewan provincials.
The Saskatchewan thing is really going out on a limb, but I would like to see a fresh face out there.
So there you have it. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland play off for the right to meet up with Alberta and Ontario. And I like cheering for someone good who has never won it, so I guess I’m a new fan of... Team Newfoundland? And I will convince myself for the rest of the week (as long as they are in the hunt) that they are my team. Because there is nothing I like more than seeing a new champ go ballistic when he wins the Brier. And would Goosh and his crew ever go ballistic.
For now, it’s Go Newfoundland Go. And that is the first time I’ve ever said that. Ever.
(CCA photo by Michael Burns)