Nfld. & Labrador

Putting on the Maple Leaf: Team Gushue preparing for world championship

Brad Gushue and Team Canada will don the red Maple Leaf at the world championships Saturday.

World Men's Curling Championship starts Saturday in Alberta

Mark Nichols and Brad Gushue throw stones at the Re/Max Centre in St. John's on Monday. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Brad Gushue and the Newfoundland and Labrador curling team are preparing for a thrill years in the making: the chance to wear the Maple Leaf.

Team Gushue will wear Canadian colours when it represents the country at the World Men's Curling Championship in Edmonton, which starts Saturday.

"I'm excited, It's been a while since we've had Team Canada on our jackets, and it's going to be fun to play in a home country," Gushue said on Monday.

From left, Team Canada's Brett Gallant, Mark Nichols, Brad Gushue and Geoff Walker pose for a photo at the Re/Max centre in St. John's. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Gushue and Mark Nichols have worn the Canadian jacket before, when they won gold at the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino.

More than 10 years later, the team has again won the right to represent Canada, thanks to their Brier victory in St. John's.

It doesn't matter where you go, grocery store, gas station, everyone was so excited and thrilled.- Mark Nichols

"You don't know how many opportunities you're going to get to represent your country, especially in Canada," added team second Brett Gallant.

"So anytime you can you just make the most of it and it's going to be a thrill."

The 2017 World Championship begins Saturday, when Canada will face off against Switzerland.

Gushue said his team is trying to put the excitement of their storybook Brier victory on the "back burner," and focus on their upcoming tournament.

"Our biggest concern [is] making sure we're rested and ready to play," he said. 

"The Brier took a lot out of us, I'd be lying if I said it didn't. But I think we've got enough rest, and we will get enough rest leading up to it in the next few days that we'll be ready to go."

Still not sinking in

That's also the biggest priority of the team's sports psychologist, according to Gushue.

Since their Brier win, three of the four members also competed at the Elite 10 curling championship, where the team missed the playoffs.

Team Canada lead Geoff Walker says the group has been getting back to its normal practice schedule after the Brier and the Elite 10 tournament. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Gushue said the team's Brier victory has still not totally sunk in — but he expects it will once the curling season winds down.

"We can just sit back and have a drink together and think about what we achieved, I think that's when it's really going to set in," he said.

Brier excitement

Mark Nichols said Brier fever infected the entire province — and it hasn't worn off just yet.

"It doesn't matter where you go, grocery store, gas station, everyone was so excited and thrilled for the whole event, and you can really feel that," said Nichols.

"I don't know if I ever thought curling would do something like that to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and it was pretty special to be a part of."

After their victory, the Bally Haly curling club renamed their ice sheets after the four athletes, just as the province named a highway after the curling team after they won their Olympic Gold medal.

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