Curling

Justin Piercy - Tuesday Nov. 12, 2013 16:00 ET

Brad Gushue joins Kevin Martin as alternate for Olympic trials

Former Olympic champion failed to qualify for Roar of the Rings

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St. John's Brad Gushue, left, tweeted on Wednesday that he'd be joining Kevin Martin's Edmonton rink at the Canadian Olympic curling trials in December. (Canadian Press)

Two former Olympic champions, Kevin Martin and Brad Gushue, will join forces as they attempt to once again represent the Canada at the Sochi Olympics.

Gushue tweeted the news on Tuesday:

The St. John's skip won gold in Turin in 2006, and will serve as the alternate with Team Martin at the Canadian Olympic trials, the Roar of the Rings, starting Dec. 5 in Winnipeg.

That team is skipped by the reigning Olympic gold medallist skip, Martin, plus third Dave Nedohin, second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert.

With an Olympics berth on the line, Gushue has no problems with helping the team through means he may be less accustomed to.

“It may be as small as pre-scouting the rocks or matching rocks before they play," Gushue said. "I’m going to do whatever I can to help those guys win.”

Paul Webster, Olympic team leader for the Canadian Curling Association, said it was wise for Martin to reach out to Gushue. Webster calls it "one of the best fifth member selections" he's ever seen. 

The role of fifth may not be mandatory for teams at the Road to the Roar, but it has become increasingly more important.

"It's always been sort of a friend or buddy opportunity in the past," Webster said. "But teams are taking it more seriously these days."

Comfort level important for both sides

Gushue's familiarity with the team, along with his experience of playing (and winning) at an Olympic trials and comfort level with sweeping as well as throwing last rocks, were some of the reasons he said it was a good fit.

It didn't hurt that the Martin rink is one of the best and most decorated.

“I was honoured that they asked me because they are one of the best teams in the world,” Gushue said. “They had a lot of people that they could’ve have chose, and to be selected was quite nice.”

The news comes just days after Gushue's rink had lost its last chance to qualify for the Roar of the Rings. 

Gushue's team was beaten in the final of the pre-Olympic trials, the Road to the Roar, by reigning Brier champ Brad Jacobs on Sunday in Kitchener, Ont. Martin's Edmonton rink had already claimed a spot at the Olympic trials.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Gushue said. “You’d prefer to be going [by] skipping your own team, but once we got knocked out, it’s hard to pass up another opportunity to go to another Olympics [and] to play with a team that had the run that they’ve had over the last seven or eight years.”

The two sides won’t have long before they see one another. Both Gushue and Team Martin will both be in competition at the Canadian Open in Medicine Hat, Alta., a Grand Slam of Curling event, Nov. 13-17.

“We’ll get to spend a bit of time there and I’ll get a better idea of what they want from me and what kind of role I’m going to play,” Gushue said. “I’ll probably head up to Edmonton a few days before the trials and spend a couple days with them, get to know them a bit better and head on to Winnipeg from there.”

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