Brier a learning experience for Quebecers

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:49 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- His hope for the playoffs are gone and, if he doesn't go on a winning run, so is his goal of getting close.

Those were two of the objectives Quebec skip Francois Gagne had going into the 2011 Brier.

But with his fifth loss in a row Tuesday and some big teams to play, Gagne is looking at a few different goals.

"We will still try to have fun," he said. "Maybe we can be spoilers, make some other teams have a tough time against us. We will also continue to learn and take that back with us."

Gagne dropped an 8-5 decision to Northern Ontario in the morning draw and then gave Alberta's Kevin Martin a run for his money, making Martin throw a last-rock open double takeout for a 7-5 win.

Gagne had to play the last end quickly. He began the end with under six minutes left and had less than a minute left when he ran back to the hack to throw his last rock.

Gagne is now 2-5.

Gagne came into the Brier with the most inexperienced team. He overcame the nerves winning his first two games, but he has learned that in this competition even the smallest mistake is costly.

"It is frustrating the way we are losing," Gagne said. "It is always one bad end, one bad rock. That's it. (Tuesday) was the same story again. (In the) morning it was a steal of two, (in the) afternoon a steal of two. We come back. We fight back. We are always just there but ..."

Gagne always seems just inches from making the big shot.

Martin said it was a tough match for Alberta.

"Quebec played well. He was real close to making a couple of circus shots but when you leave those shots, the odds are against you."

Quebec has British Columbia and Northwest Territories/Yukon on Wednesday.

"We want to break the slump," Gagne said. "I know now our chances are gone for the playoffs. It was our goal to be close to the playoffs and maybe be there.

"Now we are just having fun and enjoying the moment, concentrating on the good teams and the game, each rock, rock after rock, end after end. We still have four games left and it will be good to learn from them."

Gagne says it is important to learn how to play at the Brier. Even though his team is no longer nervous, playing on such a big stage is different than playing the same teams in other events.

It's a good experience for us. We try to bring it back home and build on that for the future. It's not just playing the games it's the environment around the Brier, everything that is happening.

"We already play against those guys on the tour, but playing them here is totally different. We are going to learn a lot by being here."


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