Team Quebec second thrilled at participating in Canada’s biggest curling event
By Jim Hynes
They started with a bang, stumbled in the middle, but in the end held their own against the country’s best curlers on the sport’s biggest stage.
Christian Bouchard, the Manager of McGill’s Waste Management Program, (Environmental Health and Safety, University Services), and his Team Quebec mates are back from the Brier, Canada’s national men’s curling championship, where they posted a 3-8 record on their way to a 10th-place finish (out of 12 teams).
“They say that the Brier is the week where the everyday, normal guy gets to be a star and that is true,” Bouchard said. “You take pictures with fans, sign autographs, the whole thing. It was incredible. I enjoyed every single part of it.”
Short on experience at the national level, Team Quebec was considered a long shot before the Brier even got underway. But after opening with a pair of wins over Nova Scotia and P.E.I., the team’s hopes of making it to the playoff round were growing. Their third game, however, was an 11-end heartbreaker to Saskatchewan that started a string of six consecutive losses. They ended that streak with a 10-4 victory over the Northwest Territories/Yukon, then dropped their last two games to eventual champion Manitoba (8-4) and Brad Gushue-skipped Newfoundland and Labrador team (9-7).
“We knew that making the playoffs would be tough,” Bouchard said, “but we expected to have a better record than that. We actually played pretty well all week; our record just doesn’t show it. We could have had three or four more wins easily, we were just unlucky or missed one shot that would have given us a win. There is a fine line between a 3-8 record and a 7-4 record. But at that level, you can’t afford to make too many mistakes because you pay the price.”
Although they didn’t score on the ice they way they would have liked, Bouchard and his nattily attired, extroverted teammates were a big hit with the fans in London’s John Labbatt Centre.
“We had so much fun over there that the crowd kind of adopted us because of our attitude on the ice,” Bouchard said. “We showed our emotions when we played and people liked that.”
Bouchard and company will close out what’s left of the curling season playing in some fun spiels before sitting down as a team and planning next season.
“At this level, there is always a lot of movement,” Bouchard said, “and even going to the Brier doesn’t guarantee you a spot on the team.”