It's been a long, strange trip for Rothesay-born Ryan Sherrard, a one-time Canadian junior men's curling champion now poised to play in the 2017 world men's curling championship that begins Saturday in Edmonton.
But, rather weirdly, Sherrard will be curling for Team Baumann of Germany.
Sherrard first travelled to Europe in 2008 with fellow curler Darren Roach after completing a bachelor's degree at Mount Allison University in Sackville.
"What was supposed to be a three-month Euro trip has now turned into almost a decade of living in Germany," said Sherrard, who is in the final year of his Ph.D at university in Munich.
Sherrard came to the attention of the German curling team by happenstance.
Since there "are only about four or five places in Germany that have curling clubs," Sherrard said, he took the weekend off in 2016 to travel to the world men's championship in Basel, Switzerland, where he was introduced to the German team at dinner through a mutual friend.
"I didn't think anything of it," he said, until later that summer, when he got a call from the national coach saying that a player had injured his knee and he wondered if Sherrard was available to join the team as an alternate.
"It didn't take me too much thinking," Sherrard said. "But I hadn't thrown a rock in four or five years, so I was a little rusty, to say the least," he said.
They started off the season with a tournament last August in Japan. Since then, he's had the opportunity to travel to Scotland several times, the European championship, and now the world championship.
"It's been a crazy nine months, but it's been completely awesome," he said.
"I like to joke that my secret reason I came to Germany was to infiltrate the German curling team."
From April 1-9, Sherrard and teammates Alexander Baumann, Manuel Walter, Daniel Herberg and Sebastian Schweizer will be in Edmonton for the 2017 world men's championship.
Of all the games in the week-long, round-robin portion of the tournament, Sherrard is, predictably, most excited for Tuesday night's game against Canada, where he'll play six-time Newfoundland junior curling champion Brad Gushue, who won this year's Canadian men's championship in St. John's in March.
"Hopefully there will be some German fans in the stands cheering us on," he said. "I know my parents will be two of them."
After the crazy chance that has brought him to this point, Sherrard said it's funny to think back to 1999, when he was a kid watching the 1999 world men's championship at Harbour Station in Saint John.
"To come full circle and be playing in the world championships is just surreal," Sherrard said.
"I'm excited to get the show on the road."