Politics

Jacobs has that look in his eye as his team rolls into playoffs at Olympic curling trials

Article content

SASKATOON — Brad Jacobs has a look in his eye that everyone in the curling world has seen before.

Advertisement

Article content

We saw it at the Brier in 2013, at the Olympic trials that same year, and in Sochi in 2014, where Jacobs won an Olympic gold medal.

We’ve seen it again over the years at Briers and Grand Slams, where Jacobs is always a contender, if not an outright champion.

But the gleam is brightest now, as Jacobs and his Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., teammates bulldoze their way through the 2021 trials in Saskatoon.

“Brad’s got it in his eyes right now and we just kind of stay out of his way and let him go,” said Ryan Harnden, the long-time lead on the Jacobs foursome and Brad’s cousin.

The Jacobs team, which includes third Marc Kennedy and second E.J. Harnden, ran its record to 6-1 at the Olympic trials on Friday morning at SaskTel Centre, beating Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen 9-5. That clinched a playoff berth for the No. 1-ranked team in the world.

Advertisement

Article content

Whether Jacobs finished first or second, had a berth in the final or the semifinal, was still to be determined on Friday night, but right now absolutely no one would be shocked if the squad booked its second trip to the Olympics come Sunday night.

Jacobs leads all skips in the field by curling 92% through seven games and Kennedy is tied for tops among thirds at 91%. They are absolutely in a zone.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

“We’re just really feeling comfortable with the playing conditions,” Jacobs said. “It’s feeling pretty easy out there at the moment, very predictable. When you’re as comfortable with the playing conditions as we are, you can make a lot of shots and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

With the playoffs almost set on the men’s side, it’s looking very likely a repeat winner will emerge from these trials and make a second trip to the Olympics.

Advertisement

Article content

Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., who won gold in 2006) is tied with Jacobs in top spot, at 6-1 with one game to play (against McEwen Friday night), but would get first place if his team finishes with the same record, because he beat Jacobs in the round robin.

Jacobs is guaranteed at least second place, while 2018 Olympian Kevin Koe is currently third at 5-2 and can clinch third place with a win over John Epping Friday night. If Koe loses, McEwen could still force a tie-breaker by beating Gushue.

If Koe does win, it will mean nine of the 12 players in the playoffs have already been to at least one Olympics. That includes all members of the Jacobs team, Gushue and Mark Nichols on Team Gushue, and Koe, John Morris and Ben Hebert on Team Koe.

Advertisement

Article content

“There’s a lot of experience and what I see from these teams left is they really can handle the pressure,” said Morris, a two-time Olympian and gold medal-winner who plays second for Koe.

“This is where you get their best games, under these lights. That’s the sign of a champion. There’s lots of champions left in this spiel and it’s survival of the fittest. May the best one win.”

On the women’s side, Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., has already locked up a spot in Sunday’s final, with a 7-0 record, while Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg (5-2) will play in the semifinal on Saturday. Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., (4-3) was looking to make it a Manitoba hat trick in the playoffs Friday afternoon. She needed a win against Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton to get to 5-3 and join Jones in the semifinal.

Advertisement

Article content

Jacobs seems to be playing as well as he has since his remarkable run to gold in the 2013-2014 season. He went undefeated in winning the 2013 trials in Winnipeg.

“If you make me think back, I would say this is about the same,” Jacobs said. “What I mean by that is just confidence level. The confidence level feels like it was a number of years ago, like it’s been in other big events, like the Brier. It’s nice to have that.”

Strangely, a couple weeks ago, the Jacobs team was at a low point.

They played poorly at a Grand Slam event in Chestermere, Alta., and finished with a 1-3 record. However, that came after they made four straight finals in cash events and rose to the top of the world rankings and, to a man, members of the Jacobs team said it was a much-needed wake-up call.

Advertisement

Article content

“It was the best thing that could have happened,” said Kennedy, who curled in the 2010 and 2018 Olympics.

“We were having a season where we were playing pretty good but we were getting quite a few misses from other teams. In Chestermere it was teams playing really well against us. We realized we needed to pick up our games, we needed to prepare harder and we had to realize that this was not gonna come easy. We really put the focus on making sure we prepared as hard as we could. In hindsight, it was probably a blessing in disguise to have that event.”

One big difference between now and 2013 for Jacobs is his age.

Now 36, he’s a veteran of the curling wars, and having 39-year-old Kennedy as his vice-skip has helped him grow.

“It’s great to see our maturity level, where it’s at right now,” Jacobs said.

Advertisement

Article content

“When we give up an early deuce, we don’t let it get to us and that’s very, very important. In the past we’ve let that get to us and you can be run out of the building pretty quick just simply by losing the hammer and giving up two. We’ve kept things in perspective really good this week.”

Twyman@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

STANDINGS

WOMEN

y-Fleury          7-0

x-Jones           5-2

Einarson         4-3

McCarville      4-4

Scheidegger   3-4

Walker            3-4

Harrison         2-5

Homan            2-5

Rocque           2-5

y-Clinched first place

x-Clinched playoff spot

FRIDAY SCORES

DRAW 17

Scheidegger vs. Homan

Rocque vs. Einarson

Walker vs. Harrison

Jones vs. Fleury

MEN

x-Gushue        6-1

x-Jacobs          6-1

z-Koe              5-2

McEwen         4-3

Epping            3-4

Bottcher         3-5

Gunnlaugson  2-5

Dunstone       2-5

Horgan           1-6

x-clinched playoff spot

z-clinched tie-breaker

FRIDAY SCORES

DRAW 16

Koe 8, Gunnlaugson 7

Bottcher 10, Epping 6

Jacobs 9, McEwen 5

Dunstone 8, Horgan 4

DRAW 18

Jacobs vs. Horgan

Gunnlaugson vs. Dunstone

Epping vs. Koe

Gushue vs. McEwen

    Advertisement

    Comments

    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.




    Source link

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    close