With the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing set to commence in 11 days, I am thrilled to share with you my interview with Brett Gallant, the second for Team Gushue, who will represent Canada in men’s curling. Gallant was part of the Gushue team that won the gold medal for Canada at the 2017 World Men’s Curling Championships in Edmonton and was also victorious at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier in Regina, Saskatchewan, the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier in Kingston, Ontario, and the 2021 Canadian Olympic Men’s Curling Trials in Saskatoon.
JF: How meaningful is it for you to be not only representing Canada, but Atlantic Canada at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing?
BG: “It is super meaningful, being raised in P.E.I. and now playing in Newfoundland. I grew up idolizing local athletes. I had a few local curlers who I looked up to. They were Suzanne Birt, Brad Gushue, and Mark Nichols. Suzanne had a lot of success in Prince Edward Island. As a teenager, I really looked up to Brad and Mark when they won the gold medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin. That was super inspiring to me. Now hopefully there are a few younger athletes competing in Atlantic Canada that can look up to our team. Hopefully (our success) sparks a little something in a few athletes, and gives them a little bit of belief that anything really is possible, even from a smaller location, wherever that may be. That is pretty special.”
JF: How excited are you to join an Olympic Winter Games with your fiancee, Jocelyn Peterman, who will be representing Team Jennifer Jones and Canada in women’s curling?
BG: “It is going to be amazing. Going into the season, you know it is going to be a possibility because we were both on great teams, but for both of us to come out on top in such great fields at the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials is kind of remarkable, and a little bit unbelievable at times. Just being able to share this experience with her, when families are not allowed to come to Beijing to watch, and being able to live her dreams is super special.”
JF: Tell me about your win over Bruce Mouat at the National in Chestermere this past fall. Was there one particular part of your team’s game from that tournament and that game you were the most proud of?
BG: “I think our consistency the last couple of years, has been our calling card, and our strength. When you are playing a team like Bruce, or any team in the grand slams, consistency is so important because if you have one miss here or there, they are going to jump all over it. I think in that final against Bruce, we just stayed consistent the whole game. The level of play of these teams now are so strong, that you have to be at your best for the whole game, and you have to be at your best for the whole tournament. We have played Bruce (the reigning World Championship silver medalist) a number of times now, whether it was at the Calgary bubble in the spring or at Grand Slam events already this year. We have to bring our best, and I think he brings the best out of us.”
JF: For curlers who have never participated at a Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, tell me about what it is like from a mental perspective.
BG: “I think it is one of the events we as athletes, probably feel the most pressure. It only comes around once every four years, and the opportunity to compete in it is that much less than all of the other events. There is no prize for second place. You may have a great event, but if you do not come out by winning at the end, there is not a lot of consolation there. So, I think that even adds to the pressure of the event. There are so many strong teams too. Every game is tough and you have to be at your best. There is the mental grind as well because you really just cannot take a day off or and end off. The challenge is immense. We had a pretty good Canadian Olympic Trials four years ago (in 2017), but we were up against a hot Mike McEwen team in the semifinal, lost 6-4, and (despite a record of six wins and two losses in the round robin), he ended our chances pretty abruptly. I am very grateful of having the opportunity to come on top this year.
JF: When you think of the greatest curlers of all-time, does Brad Gushue deserve to be in the conversation?
BG: “Absolutely he is in the conversation. He is already an Olympic gold medalist and this is his second Olympic Games. You just look at the consistency of him and our team, over the last six or seven years, and all of the grand slam finals we have been in, and the championships we have been able to win. He is certainly in the conversation. There has been a lot of great players, but if you take a look at his shooting over the last 10 to 15 years, and what he has been able to accomplish, it is pretty remarkable. Absolutely, he is in the conversation. It is a little difficult to compare because there have been a lot of great players, and a lot of them did not play against each other through their careers. But over the last decade, I do not know if there has been anybody as consistent as him.”