It is hard to imagine that when the fireworks begin at next year’s Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing, it will have been 16 years since Brad Gushue stood on top of the podium in Turin.
But with 12 months until the world’s best curlers descend on the Ice Cube, preparation has been far from orthodox —especially for the Canadian.
Since his rink took home gold at the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier, Gushue has not seen his lead, Geoff Walker, in the flesh. While time with his wife and kids has provided a silver lining for the Newfoundlander, he admits it has been hard to adapt.
“It has been a challenge,” says Gushue. “Not being able to operate my businesses, practice or compete in curling, or see many of our friends has been tough.
“Our training has been impacted heavily. Because of quarantine requirements, we have not been able to get together, train or compete in the past 12 months.”
Back to school
Alongside his close friend and longtime teammate Marc Nichols, the 40-year-old skip opened Orange Theory Fitness Studio in St. John’s in 2017 after the pair discovered the chain when travelling across Canada for competitions. It was the first to open in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Gushue describes Nichols as someone who will give “100 per cent” when he gets involved and is incredibly soft spoken. Something he admits complements the dynamic due to his own “outspokenness”.
Nevertheless, running a fitness company during a pandemic has brought challenges.
“Public health authorities have put many restrictions on the industry, including reducing capacity or requiring us to close.
“These restrictions have put a financial strain on many businesses in the industry. The main reason I got into the business was to help individuals with their health and wellbeing.
Aims to future-proof
However, if managing a busy business, hectic curling schedule and family life was not enough for the 2017 world champion, he has also recently enrolled at Queen’s University studying for an MBA.
Gushue says the current pandemic has put many things into perspective and insists “there are some uncertain times ahead”.
“There isn’t anyone who can tell you what the curling world will look like and how many events there will be or how much sponsorship will be available when this is done,” anticipates Gushue.
“That uncertainty has probably led people to think about what happens next. My goal is to stay involved in the sport in some way throughout my life, whether that is coaching, on the admin side, commentary or another role.”
“The MBA program has been great and I am learning lots. With the pandemic still happening and our curling schedule reduced, I felt this would be the best time to do it. I probably would not have this much time available without the pandemic.
“I’m hoping the MBA will open up opportunities for me over the next number of years and also in my post-curling career.”
Push for Beijing
Before the two-time Tim Hortons Brier winner begins to ponder retirement from the ice, he still has one major goal remaining: Beijing 2022.
Team Gushue has remained in touch throughout lockdown with Zoom and will finally be back together ahead of the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier — a championship where Gushue holds the record for most wins as skip.
“My motivation is myself and my kids. I would like to get a chance to go back to the Olympics so I can enjoy the experience more than I did when I was younger,” he says.
“My perspective has changed and I would love to experience it with that perspective. Plus, I would love for my kids to be able to take part in the Olympic experience and see their dad competing there.
“That’s why Beijing is a big goal for me. The preparations were going very well until the last couple of months. Lockdowns have a way of disrupting everyone’s lives in different ways.
“Our team just enjoys playing together and having fun when we compete. When we can do that, we have success.”
Numerous titles, a thriving business and still on the hunt to learn more. While success can be defined in multiple ways, it is crystal clear that Gushue relishes a challenge, both on and off the ice.
Written by feature writer, Jacob Newbury