If there's a blueprint for curling success, Brad Gushue believes he has it.
After mapping out — and successfully executing — their plan to win their first Brier title and first world championship, Gushue and his teammates are now locking their sights on the Olympic trials in December.
"We have a great template to go off of," the skip says. "There are not going to be a whole lot of adjustments."
The process that resulted in a dream season can be traced back to last June, when Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker basically locked themselves inside the Merchant Tavern, a local bar and restaurant on Water Street in downtown St. John's.
For two days, the team went over every detail of what the season was going to look like — everything from the lead-up to the Brier, to the Brier itself and onto worlds. They talked about workout plans, nutrition, working with physiotherapists and sports psychologists... nothing was left to chance.
Gushue says the team will probably organize another retreat at the Merchant Tavern in late May or early June to lay out their road to the trials.
"It'll be very similar. We're going to try and enter that same bubble," Gushue says.
Been there, done that
Gushue and Nichols know what it takes to become Olympic champions. They anchored the team, rounded out by Russ Howard and Jamie Korab, that won gold at the 2006 Olympics in Italy.
Now the fresh faces of Walker and Gallant add a spark to a team hungry to continue winning on the biggest sporting stage.
"I know Brad and Mark have that under their belts, but for Brett and I that would be the icing on the cake," Walker says.
"That's obviously our next goal. We're setting our sights on those Olympic trials and trying to represent Canada at the Olympics. That would be a lifelong dream as well."
Gallant now better understands what this team needs to do to be successful, especially when it comes to the most pressure-packed moments. It's something he says they learned during the Brier in St. John's, where the expectations and pressure couldn't have been greater.
"It's just about being ourselves and doing the little things that we do. I don't think it was anything magical. I think it's just that we've come to be a better unit over time," Gallant says.
When it comes to setting goals, Team Gushue isn't afraid to go on record with what they hope to achieve, despite the risks that entails.
"We make it pretty public," Nichols says. "Not many people are willing to do that because if you fail, it's a lot harder.
Some would call it cocky. Nichols calls it confidence.
"You always picture winning. You dream of that in any sport. I dreamt it all. It's just crazy to think we set out those goals and achieved them."
Once again, Team Gushue is making it very clear: they want to be the group of four wearing Canadian colours next winter in South Korea at the Olympics.
Gushue says if they can continue to stay focused and curl the way they have the past two months, he likes their chances.
"I feel like we don't have to play perfect to win," he says. "And I feel like if we play well we're going to be there on Sunday night in the final game at the Olympic trials."