His trophy case complete after winning the Champions Cup for the first time, Brad Gushue and his St. John’s team are aiming for even bigger things over the next quadrennial.
“There’s still lots to play for and just because we’ve won all the events that we’ve wanted to win once, you’re still pretty motivated to do it again,” Gushue said. “We still love to play. So when you love to play and you’re as competitive as we are, it’s not going to be hard to get up for a big event or for any of the events that we’re going to be signing up for.”
Gushue topped Glenn Howard last Sunday in Calgary to win the final Grand Slam of the season. The victory gave him the lone Slam title missing from his resume and capped an impressive campaign that has him on top of the national rankings.
The 37-year-old skip guided his rink to six victories over the 2017-18 campaign, including Slam wins at the Masters and Tour Challenge. The pain of coming up short at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings last December was soothed by a successful title defence at the Tim Hortons Brier and silver medal at the world championship.
Gushue was pleased with how his team fought back in the second half of the season after coming up short at the Olympic Trials.
“It was a very good season, certainly I think I would probably describe it as a bit of a roller-coaster,” Gushue said Tuesday from Banff, Alta. “But if someone told me back in August of last year before we started, that this was the way your season was going to go, I certainly would have taken it.
“I’m very proud of what we did and how we played.”
Gushue and his teammates plan to take a few weeks off before getting together for an off-season meeting, likely in early June. The upcoming season begins in late summer with some cashspiels ahead of the first Grand Slam — the Sept. 26-30 Elite 10 — in Chatham, Ont.
“There are some changes that I’d like to make — nothing dramatic — in some areas of the game that I think we can probably improve on,” Gushue said. “Just to get even more consistent. I think that’s one of the strengths that we have is how consistent we are. But I still think we can take it up another level.”
The team also plans to tinker with its calendar to focus on top competitions.
“We’re going to change our schedule over the next four years,” Gushue said. “We’re probably not going to play many events in curling clubs. We’re going to stick to the Grand Slam circuit and the Canada Cups and things like that. Those are the ones that really motivate us and get us going.
“So we’re going to definitely go towards that — and obviously the Brier — and the ultimate goal is in four years to get to the Olympics.”
Gushue won Olympic gold at the 2006 Turin Games, five years after winning world junior gold. He won Brier and world titles for the first time last year.
Gushue’s lineup changed on an almost annual basis until this last quadrennial. Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker are set to continue together with an eye on the buildup to the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
“We keep it pretty light and have fun with it,” Gushue said. “I think a lot of the teams out there are probably a little bit too uptight and a little too serious and start playing the blame game. That’s something that we don’t do because we’re all good friends and we enjoy being out there.
“We win as a team and we lose as a team. All this stuff sounds cliche I know, but it is how we operate. It’s a lot of fun just to go out and compete with these guys.”