Losing their lustre

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:34 PM ET

You'll have to forgive a couple of teams this weekend if they've already experienced the highlight of their season.

After all, it doesn't get much bigger than an Olympic medal.

Brad Gushue knew all along he wanted to be at the Corral for the World Curling Tour's Players Championship and its $250,000 purse but he's the first to admit he's not in top form right now.

"We're not as motivated as we should be but we wanted to be part of this tournament," the 25-year-old Newfoundler said yesterday, falling to 0-3 after a 7-4 loss to Edmonton's Kevin Martin. "It would be nice to play a little better than we did."

Curling's a funny sport like that. Gushue had to be at the top of his game to win the Canadian Olympic trials in December and then went to Turin, Italy, for a showdown against the world in February and won gold.

Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Russ Howard, lead Jamie Korab and spare Shawn Adams haven't thrown a rock since beating Finland's Markku Uusipaavalniemi 7-4 in the Olympic final.

"Our expectations were pretty low for this week," Gushue said. "We wanted to come and do better than 0-3 but we didn't expect to run through this field the way we did at the trials. If we came here and got to the playoffs, that would have been a great accomplishment, just with the amount of preparation."

Adjusting to the title of 'Olympic champion' has been a struggle.

"It's starting to set in this week with everybody beating the (bleep)out of us here," said Gushue, smiling. "Guess we have a big target on our backs now."

The Gushue crew has been flying across the country on a regular basis, receiving accolades in style.

"Our lives have been so different since we returned home but it's been fun," Gushue said. "It would be nice to sit down with our friends and family and really celebrate. That's a little ways away but hopefully soon."

What? No Newfoundland kitchen party yet? No trip down George Street?

"I think a couple of the guys have made it down there," said Gushue of the famed block of bars in his hometown of St. John's. "I haven't yet."

The week hasn't been much of a party for Mirjam Ott and her silver-medal crew from Switzerland, either.

They're also 0-3, suffering an 8-2 shellacking by Calgary's Cheryl Bernard yesterday.

Ott's third Binia Beeli came down with food poisoning Wednesday and couldn't play. She was back in action yesterday but still not up to form.

Ott, who lost 7-6 in the Olympic final to Sweden's Anette Norberg, is the only woman in the world to have two Olympic curling medals.

Ott was hoping for a better result at the Players Championship, which will be an all-Canadian affair next year when it becomes part of the scramble for Olympic trials qualifying points.

Knocking off the Olympic silver medallist put a little wind in Bernhard's sails.

"Yeah, I didn't mind that," said Bernard, who put herself in playoff contention with the win. "It was a nice boost to our confidence."


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