Nfld. & Labrador

Mark Nichols deals with Brier quarantine by walking 5 km — without leaving his hotel room

Newfoundland and Labrador curler Mark Nichols is taking mandatory isolation in stride.

All laps, no naps for quarantining curler

Mark Nichols posted a video on Instagram, left, showing him doing laps in his hotel room. He listens to fitness podcasts while walking, but used the song Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves as background music for his video. (Instagram/marknichols_nl/teamgushue.ca)

Mark Nichols is taking mandatory Curling Canada isolation in stride ahead of the Brier. 

He's lapping it up, actually.

On his second day of quarantine, he walked five kilometres in his Calgary hotel room.

"Twelve steps from wall to door," he counted. "That's a lot of laps."

It took the Olympian an hour, pacing past his bed, through the room's seating area, and back —something to keep moving while Team Gushue looks to win its fourth Brier in five years.

While he says he feels ready, Nichols is working to prevent the isolation from affecting his mental game.

"It's tough at times," Nichols said.

"We've been preparing for this for a long time, whether it's visualization or meditation or anything like that. This team has done a lot to kind of get to this place. We're ready for it."

'We're ready for it'

The Brier takes place March 5-14, but Team Gushue — the defending champions, playing as Team Canada — plans to hunker down for the curling season.

There are mixed doubles, two Grand Slam events, and the world championship for whoever wins the Brier.

From left, Team Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker hold the Brier Tankard trophy after defeating Team Alberta in the 2020 Brier final. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

"It could be 55 days in this hotel and out on Day 56 if everything goes as planned," Nichols said, adding that with the required safety protocols, if the team were to win worlds, it wouldn't make sense to leave the hotel between tournaments.

Curling Canada mandates two weeks of relative isolation for curlers and coaches in their home province before flying out to an event. For the last three days, people aren't allowed to leave their homes or have contact with their families.

Teams have to test negative for COVID-19 four times: before arriving in the host city, upon arrival, the following day and, again, either two or three days after that. 

Participants have a check-in every day to disclose any symptoms. They're restricted to their individual hotel rooms and they're not allowed visitors. 

Teams each have a car. They're only permitted to drive to the rink and back. It's a minute-long drive and stopping anywhere other than the arena isn't allowed. 

Keeping up the 5K

But once they're on the ice, Nichols said, the game will feel much the same. 

They're used to downtime between matches and hanging out in hotel rooms. 

This season will just be an extreme version of that, with more time spent doing hotel room laps.

"If that's the worst thing that happens here, I have to walk 5K back and forth, and we're still winning, then that's a good thing to do," Nichols said.

"If it distracts me from what's going on around, then that's a good thing."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katie Breen

Reporter

Katie Breen works for CBC in St. John's.

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