EDMONTON - An Olympic gold medal came early in Brad Gushue's curling career. Winning a Canadian men's championship is taking longer.
"I'm the only curler I think in the world right now that would want to win a Brier more than the Olympics," said Gushue, who is skipping Newfoundland and Labrador for a 10th time at the Brier.
"I think everybody here, I think if you would ask them to take an Olympics or a Brier, they would choose Olympics. For me, personally, I'd choose the Brier. My teammates might not like that, but I've won an Olympics before. This is a special event for me and something I want to check off from the list of goals."
Gushue was just 26 when he and Mark Nichols, Russ Howard and Jamie Korab won men's curling gold at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Gushue threw fourth stones and was Howard's vice-skip. It was the first curling gold for a Canadian men's team after it became an official Olympic sport in 1998.
At 32, Gushue is considered a contender going into any Brier because of the Olympic gold. He's lived up to that billing for the most part despite a lineup change almost every year.
Gushue's teams have made the Brier playoffs six of his previous nine years. He was a runner-up to Glenn Howard at the Tim Hortons Brier in 2007 in Hamilton.
He tied for first with Alberta's Kevin Martin and Jeff Stoughton at 9-2 in the preliminary round in 2011, but lost in the semifinal.
The skip is still appalled, however, at his 5-6 record last year in Saskatoon.
"After my disappointing showing last year personally, I just want to come and erase that and play the way I'm capable of playing and see where things fall," Gushue said. "I think if I was capable of playing the way I'm playing, we would have won seven games or so."
Gushue's front end of Adam Casey and Geoff Walker are back for a second Brier with Gushue.
Ryan Fry, who played second and then third for Gushue at his four previous Canadian championships, joined Northern Ontario this season and is vice-skip to Brad Jacobs in Edmonton.
Gushue recruited Brett Gallant, a former Canadian junior champion from Prince Edward Island, at third this season.
Newfoundland won their first three games to open the 2013 Brier and were to face New Brunswick in Sunday evening's draw.
"I'm not going to stand here and say 'we're coming here to win', but I'm also not going to stand here and say 'we're here for a good time,'" Gushue said.
"We really feel if we play well, we'll have a chance at the end of the week. That's kind of all we're looking for, get into those do-or-die games and see if you can knock off some of the big guys and go home with a trophy.
"We're a good team. We haven't necessarily been the best in the world, but we're capable of beating them all."
Since winning his Olympic gold, Gushue married and has two daughters. He's the owner of a yogurt franchise in St. John's.
At 50, Ontario skip Glenn Howard is setting a record in Edmonton for Brier appearances at 15. With many years of curling curling ahead of him if he wants, Gushue can push that record to new heights.
"For me, if I break that down the road, there may have to be a little bit of an asterisk because it's obviously easier to come out of Newfoundland than it is for Alberta or Ontario, but I think in my defence, we haven't just showed up," the skip said.
"We've come here and made the playoffs six times out of the nine so far. We've been a competitive team, so that's what I take pride in."