Gushue's rink overcomes expectations, injuries to reach worlds
Team has flown in physiotherapist from St. John's
In just a little less than one month, Brad Gushue's rink out of the Bally Haly Country Club in St. John's has captured a Brier title at home, played in a Grand Slam of Curling event in Nova Scotia and is now representing Canada at the World Curling Championships in Edmonton.
"We're going to be tired at the end of the week," said Gushue.
This team has had to endure injury and expectation to get to this point.
It was a fall — a face plant, really — during a Grand Slam event in late October 2015 that led to what Gushue called "the toughest 14 months of my curling career."
A frustrating hip/groin injury followed, leading to "eight months of not knowing when I would throw another rock."
Throughout the Brier, Gushue battled his hip injury, in visible discomfort at times. Now in Edmonton, he's still battling the pain but he's close to full health.
"Mentally, I'm pretty good. Physically, I'm probably not where I'd like to be probably because it's a quick turnaround from the Brier to here," Gushue said.
During the nine days of curling in St. John's, Gushue was getting rehab work done on his hip twice a day. His same physiotherapist and massage therapist have been flown in from St. John's to Edmonton to continue that rehab during this championship.
"After winning in St. John's and all the things that happened it probably didn't allow us to get ideal rest coming in."
Crazy last 12 months
Third Mark Nichols is still flying high coming off of the Brier championship, but admits it took a toll on the team.
"I'd be lying if I said we were 100 per cent," Nichols said.
Nichols says the team tried to get as much rest as possible but going from the Brier, to the grand slam event, straight to Edmonton has been a grind.
"We got here a little earlier than normal and a couple of days to rest and recover."
Nichols has played a pivotal role on this team over the past year. He stepped into skip when Gushue was out with injury.
"It's been crazy, the last 12 months for this team," he said. "This year has been a total roller coaster and I think we're grateful to be where we are."
Nichols says the team is being noticed in Edmonton.
"We go out to eat and people still recognize us here."
Geoff Walker shoulder recovering
Towards the end of the Brier, lead Geoff Walker was in serious discomfort. He says he tweaked his shoulder late in round-robin play.
At times, Walker couldn't even sweep. On Gushue's last rock to win the Brier championship, Nichols had to run out of the hack and help sweep as Walker looked on in pain.
He sat out during the team's play at the Grand Slam event in Nova Scotia to rest up and says he's feeling much better for the Worlds.
"I'm happy where I'm at physically," Walker said. "We got just enough rest I think. It was a short turnaround."
Should Walker experience any other shoulder issues, the team has once again brought fifth Tom Sallows along for the competition. He was in St. John's helping the team in whatever way possible.
"You just have to give them any chance that might help. Easing their week with management, getting food, make a joke."
Sallows played in Walker's lead spot during the Grand Slam event in Nova Scotia and practices nightly. He was also part of the John Morris rink that won the 2015 Brier in Calgary.
"Maybe I'm a lucky charm," he said.
Sallows says should he be called into action, he's ready.
"I've always set a goal to be the hardest working fifth man there is."