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Gushue on world curling championship: 'I'm going into this like it could be the last'

Canada skip Brad Gushue, from left to right, third Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden and lead Geoff Walker pose with the Brier Tankard and First Nations beadwork after defeating Saskatchewan in the final at the Brier, in Regina, Sunday, March 10, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck Canada skip Brad Gushue, from left to right, third Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden and lead Geoff Walker pose with the Brier Tankard and First Nations beadwork after defeating Saskatchewan in the final at the Brier, in Regina, Sunday, March 10, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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Brad Gushue is approaching this year's men's world curling championships like it could be his last.

The veteran skip from St. John's, N.L., won the world title in 2017 and lost in the final three times, including the last two years. The 43-year-old isn't taking his future for granted.

“At this point, you have to treat every one like it's the last one,” Gushue said in recent media availability before leaving for Schaffhausen, Switzerland. “I'm going into this like it could be the last because, whether I play for five or 10 more years, winning a Brier is extremely tough. You don't get these opportunities all the time.

“Hopefully we've got a few more left (in us) but I don't think we can assume that's going to happen.”

Gushue and his rink of third Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden and lead Geoff Walker won this year's Brier with a 9-5 victory over Saskatchewan's Mike McEwen in Regina. For Gushue, Nichols and Walker, it was their sixth Brier victory and third straight.

Harnden, in his second season with Gushue, collected his third national title. His first was in 2013 with Brad Jacobs' Northern Ontario crew.

The men's curling championship begins Saturday at the KSS Sports Complex. The 13 teams will play a round robin with the top six advancing to the playoffs and semifinals next Saturday. The winner will be crowned April 7.

Gushue understands how hard it is to win a world title. He lost last year's final 9-3 to Scotland's Bruce Mouat and in 2022 was beaten 8-6 by Sweden's Niklas Edin. He also lost the 2018 final to Edin.

“I think one thing we've done real well at the world championships is put ourselves in the position, if we have a great game, we can win it,” said Gushue. “Or, if someone slips up, we might win as well. Unfortunately for us, the last three times we played in the final we either had a poor game or, in the situation last year, Bruce had an incredible game.

“This year is just about getting back in that position of getting into the playoffs and hopefully making the final. If we could put a game together like we're capable of playing, then we'll give ourselves a real good chance. To win these big championships, you need a little bit of luck and a little bit of timing. At the last few worlds we haven't had that in the last game of the week.”

Gushue was the last Canadian rink to win the world title. Edin won four consecutive crowns before Mouat won last year. The 2020 championships were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Rachel Homan ended a four-year drought for Canada by winning the women's world curling championship with a 7-5 win over Switzerland's Silvana Tirinzoni on Sunday in Sydney, N.S.

Gushue said Homan's win doesn't put any extra pressure on his rink.

“If anything it probably takes the pressure off,” he said. “We have a world championship.

“I think Canadian curling fans are fully understanding of world curling now and how challenging it is.”

Homan and Gushue were the skips the last time Canadian rinks won both the men and women's titles in 2017.

Gushue understands better than most how difficult winning can be at any level. He won an Olympic gold medal in 2006 but didn't win his first Brier until 2017. He also won a bronze medal at the 2022 Olympics.

Each competition served as a learning experience.

“You take those experiences and make sure you're as prepared as you can be,” he said. “We've already had some discussions on what we can expect based on having been to a few world championships.

“I think we're more prepared because we've had those experiences in the past.”

The level of competition at the world championship has also improved.

Joel Retornaz's rink from Italy is ranked No. 1 in the world, with Mouat second and Switzerland's Yannick Schwaller, who took the bronze medal at last year's competition, fifth.

South Korea's Park Jong-duk is considered a medal contender after beating Gushue during the preliminary round of this year's Pan Continentals. Gushue rebounded to beat Park in the final. American John Shuster won gold at the 2018 Olympics and was third at the 2016 world championship.

Gushue opens with games Saturday against Lukas Klima of the Czechia and Germany's Marc Muskatewitz.

“It's a pretty deep field and even the teams that probably wouldn't be favourites to make the playoffs, they are all capable of beating every team,” said Gushue. “There are no games you can take off.

“We also are confident that if we play the way we're capable of playing, we should be there at the end of the week and hopefully gives ourselves a chance to win.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2024.

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