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Sports This Week: Bottcher finally on top in Canada

The Brendan Bottcher curling team might be the poster boys for the old adage ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again’.

The Brendan Bottcher curling team might be the poster boys for the old adage ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again’.

Bottcher and his crew of third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin, are the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier winner.

The Canadian championship came thanks to a terrific shot in the 10th end of the semi-final by Bottcher to score a deuce and record a comeback win over Saskatchewan’s Matt Dunstone.

Then in the final against fellow Alberta Kevin Koe, a wild card team at the Brier, Bottcher curled an incredible 97 per cent and when his last rock settled in the 10th end it left Koe with nothing to shoot at, conceding defeat without throwing his final stone, leaving Bottcher with a 4-2 win.

Asked about the big shots, Bottcher said to win you need a few of them.

“Whenever you win the Brier, you’re going to have made a handful of great shots along the way,” he said.

The final was actually a repeat of the 2019 Brier.

Held at the Westoba Place in Brandon, Manitoba, the Bottcher team played its way into the main draw by winning the wildcard game over Team Epping (Ontario) and then went 8–3 in the round-robin, making the playoffs for the second straight year. The team was 8–3 in the Championship Pool. Beating Brad Gushue (Team Canada) and then Team Jacobs (Northern Ontario) in the semifinals in the playoffs. In the finals, Bottcher was defeated 4–3 by Koe.

The loss in 2019 was Bottcher’s second finals defeat. In 2018 the team had an 8-3 round robin record making it to the final, where they would lose to Brad Gushueof Team Canada 6–4.

In 2020 Bottcher also lost the final, his third straight to Gushue7–3 in the final.

So this year’s win was significant, not that Bottcher looks at the three wins as a failure in any way.

“Each of those years (making the final) was a pretty big accomplishment for us,” he said in a recent telephone interview, adding with losses the important thing is to take positive things away from the experience.

And, experience is an asset that grows.

“You gain a little bit of experience from all those losses,” said Bottcher, adding when you add a bit of luck to experience, you can win a lot of games.

That said Bottcher said winning this year was huge for the team, even if the arena was empty of fans, and the experience like no other in Brier history.

“It definitely was not how you envision winning the Brier,” he said, adding it was still amazing to win with the group of guys on the team.

Bottcher will now represent Canada at the 2021 World Men's Curling Championship, originally scheduled to be hosted in Ottawa, will now to be held April 2 to 11 at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. It will be his second taste of world play participating in the 2012 World Junior Curling Championship, defeating  Sweden's Rasmus Wrana in eight ends with a score of 10–4.

The chance to wear Canadian colours again is big.

“That’s pretty special regardless of what sport you play,” he said, adding there is definitely a sense of pride representing your country.

So what does Bottcher expect at the world level?
“I expect even better curling,” he said, adding “all countries want to beat Canada.”

But he said he won’t give into the pressure of being Team Canada on home ice with an expectation of success.

“For me it’s not reading too much into it,” he said.

What will be missing is loud fans cheering on every Canadian shot.

”You may as well be playing on the moon,” he said, but added he is just happy Curling Canada and the City of Calgary were able to make events happen this year.