Olympic champion Brad Jacobs returns to curling
Brad Jacobs is back.
Speaking exclusively to CBC Sports' That Curling Show, Jacobs announced he's returning to professional curling as a part of Team Carruthers.
The news comes just a couple of months after Jacobs spared as third for Reid Carruthers at a Grand Slam event in Camrose, Alta. — Carruthers just a couple of weeks earlier announced he was parting ways with Jason Gunnlaugson and started looking for a replacement.
Jacobs, 37, who won the 2014 Olympic gold medal, says he felt immediately comfortable as a part of the team in Camrose and can't wait to get next season started.
"I'm ready to get back in this thing full swing and there's a really good opportunity with Team Carruthers," Jacobs said on the show.
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To be clear, Jacobs says he never once used the term retired from curling.
'No Tom Brady'
"I am no Tom Brady. I never once used that word, just for the record," he said laughing.
"It's been an interesting season for myself and obviously Reid. We played in Camrose and had a lot of fun. I didn't really want to enter back in the men's game until at least 2023. I certainly didn't expect to play this year, but Reid needed a guy and I was available."
Fans will get a first look at this now official team at the Players' Championship Slam at the beginning of April in Toronto. Jacobs will also play with Carruthers at the Champions Cup to close out the Slam season.
The team will be keeping the same lineup as the one in Camrose going into next season. That means Jacobs, who has been a skip throughout his highly successful career that includes a 2013 Brier title, is playing third.
"I was done with that position. I know how tough it is. Every position in curling is tough but the skip position is just that much more difficult and it takes a special person and personality to be in that position for years and years successfully," Jacobs said.
"I have nothing but faith in this whole team. We have to put Reid on that pedestal and we have full faith in him."
Throughout the Brier, Carruthers skipped his team consisting of third Derek Samagalski, second Connor Njegovan and lead Rob Gordon to a respectable 4-4 record. Gordon was brought on specifically for the Brier.
Carruthers, who won a Brier title as a part of a team skipped by Jeff Stoughton in 2011, is obviously thrilled Jacobs picked his team to be a part of moving forward.
"When we lost a great player in Jason I had to fill that void with someone who is elite. At the top of that list is Brad. It was just a matter of whether or not he was in. We were feeling the same and were fortunate enough that he was able to come to Camrose," Carruthers said.
"Our mindsets going into next season are very much the same about what we want to do and what we want to accomplish."
The two even roomed together in Camrose, immediately bonding, something both say is crucial at this point of their careers.
"I'm at a point in my life where enjoying the sport and clicking on and off the ice is extremely important. Everyone wants to win but finding a close group, getting along off the ice is extremely important. That's what I found with these guys," Jacobs said.
"Reid has been an incredible player his whole career and an incredible leader. I loved how he led the team, the respect that everyone has for Reid."
There is a mutual respect the two have for each other.
"We just felt like we clicked and were learning from each other. Brad is a student of the game. Some of the things we've done with sweeping, he was right there soaking it up like a sponge. I feel like he's adding a wealth of knowledge to us as well," Carruthers said.
Carruthers says as the news of Jacobs gets out there will be a tidal wave of changes across the Canadian curling landscape on the men's side – something not dissimilar to what fans saw in the wake of last year's Olympic cycle when nearly every elite men's team made changes to their lineup.
"What I'll say is that in the last 48 hours my phone has been ringing which is an honour but I feel a lot of players and teams are waiting to hear what Brad does. So I feel like this is the pin in the grenade so as soon as this news gets out I feel there's going to be some movement in the near future.
"I think it's going to shock some people because I"m getting messages from teams and players I didn't expect. The bar is set high in Canadian curling right now. On the men's side you have a team like Gushue that everyone wants to chase. Teams are wanting to get better so I'm not all that surprise."
Jacobs, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is just happy to be getting back in the game after sitting out this past Brier.
"I was paying close attention to what was going on. That was an incredible Brier. I couldn't believe the quality of shot making," he said.
"And Ryan and E.J. squaring off in the final. I couldn't really sleep a lot on Saturday and Sunday night. I was feeling pretty emotionally about the whole thing. They should hold their heads high. That'll be something that they never forget and we'll all never forget as a family. Congratulations to both teams for making the final and the level of play was insane."