OTTAWA - The last time Brad Gushue played in the Challenge Casino du Lac-Leamy de Gatineau he curled with Randy Ferbey.
Gushue is just one prominent skip participating in the 2011 event this week, joining other Brier-experienced skips such as the Sault's Brad Jacobs, Quebec's Jean Michel-Menard, Guy Hemmings and Serge Reid, and Halifax's Ian Fitzner-Leblanc. Reid is the defending champion and counts himself among the cashspiel's 41 Brier players.
Add the likes of Toronto's Mike Harris and cagey local skippers like Bryan Cochrane, the surging Chris Gardner and Howard Rajala, and there's no telling who's going to make the final. P.E.I.'s Brett Gallant, the 2009 Canadian junior champion, could also make some noise.
The venue makes the outcome all the more difficult to predict. The Centre Sportif Robert Rochon in Masson is a hockey arena. Arena ice can be great -- swinging and fast or dead straight and heavy.
There is also a women's side, as well as an open section that will be played in the Buckingham Curling Club, with some games in the arena.
The women, featuring Ottawa's Jenn Hanna and Quebec's Marie-France Larouche, begin play at 7:30 p.m. Their prize purse is $11,000 with the winner earning $3,500.
The men's cash totals $36,500 with the winner taking home $9,000. Play begins Thursday at 9 a.m.
Passes are available on site. Thursday and Friday day passes are $10, Saturday is $15 and Sunday $20. An entire event pass is $30.
Look for Jacobs to finally get his act together and defeat Gardner in the men's final.
Ottawa's Lynn Kreviazuk stole two in the 10th to win the Brampton Junior Bonspiel, 9-7 over another Ottawa skip, Lauren Horton. With Kreviazuk were Carly Howard, Kerilynn Mathers and Cheryl Kreviazuk ... Six rinks emerged from the JSI OVCA Superspiel qualifier in Almonte. Advancing to the Nov. 4-6 event are teams skipped by Eve Fortier, Melissa Gannon, Kim Gannon, Chris Lewis, Brett Lyon-Hatcher and Andrew Minty.
CURLING THIS WEEK
The best opportunity for club curlers to make a provincial or national happens this weekend with the Dominion Club Championship, which combined zone and regions for men and women, at various clubs. Winners advance to provincials Oct. 28 in Acton and Milton.