Gary Oke believes end of Gushue’s rule provides opportunity for next wave


Published on March 15, 2017

Oke

Gary Oke played in three Briers as Newfoundland and Labrador’s entry, but he doesn’t have any plans on going for a fourth with Brad Gushue out of the picture for next season.

“I wouldn’t want to play it because I might win,” Oke said with a hearty chuckle.

Gushue won the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier on home ice Sunday night with a 7-6 win over Team Canada’s Kevin Koe at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.

Gushue’s draw to the eight foot in the 10th ended three hours of tense, nail-biting curling between a brace of Canadian curling titans.

Team Gushue is now Team Canada, so next year there will be a new men’s curling champion representing this province at the 2018 Brier.

Oke, a Corner Brook native, discussed the landscape of provincial men’s curling without Gushue in the picture with former Brier representatives Jeff Thomas and Mark Noseworthy during the provincial senior men’s curling tournament in Stephenville earlier this year.

They all joked about being afraid to compete on the national stage against so many great teams in the country who they no longer view as amateurs.

“The competition has changed drastically. It’s really tough,” he said.

Gushue has been the man for this province for 14 years, so nobody really had a chance at wearing the province’s colours, but now the door is open for somebody else to give it a shot.

Oke believes there are a number of young curlers on the east coast who may very well want to take a shot at it, and that will be a nice change for the landscape of the sport in this province.

He believes Gushue’s dominance for so many years made it tough for other teams to compete with any hopes of putting a stop to his impressive run as one of the best curlers in not only his home province, but on the world stage.

“Any time you get a dynasty in a small province it’s tough,” he said. “There are teams who sign up to play Brad in the provincials, but they pretty well know they’re going to lose.”

Oke has represented his province at every level of competition of curling, including three trips to the Brier, and he said the exposure and pressure of playing in a showcase event that has thousands of fans watching is like nothing he ever experienced, so for those who decide to be the next one, they will be in for a treat.

It just won’t be Gary Oke taking a chance on being pounded all over the ice by some of the best in the world.

Back in the day, maybe he wouldn’t have the same fear.

“You’d be half afraid to get there. I would be anyway,” he said. “Would I try it again? No, obviously no.”

RELATED STORIES:

Gushue’s feat being celebrated by others who have achieved milestones in sport