HALIFAX -- Russ Howard wonders if he'd have a chance to become an Olympian at age 49 if he hadn't taken time and stopped to talk to a crying kid.
"Brad Gushue was playing in the Canadian Junior at my home curling club,'' said Old Hurry Hard.
"I was the honorary chairman, sitting in the stands, and watched Brad miss a draw to the eight foot to win the Canadian championship.
"As I was leaving the rink, I saw that the kid was crying.
"I told my wife Wanda to give me a minute. We've all missed shots like that.
"I went up to him and asked 'How do you think you threw it?'
"He said 'I thought I threw it well.'
"I said 'Then get over it.' Stuff happens.''
Howard said he's always believed things happen for a reason.
"Six months later they changed the junior age limit and Brad was eligible for another year and went on and won the world championship.
"I think this is fate also. I'll be a senior in February. And I get this call from Newfoundland asking if I'll be Brad's fifth man.''
Howard confirmed yesterday's report in this column that he'd be skipping Gushue's rink and throwing second rocks and perhaps moving up in the line-up as the week continues.
"I thought I was coming here as a coach, waterboy and cheerleader, not as a player.
"But they struggled on the tour this year and brought me in for two events to try this.
"And I think this sort of thing is what we should be doing in Canada. The Europeans are using the fifth man for more that getting the drinks at the bar and carrying the brooms.''