You can still find some people who remember when Newfoundland was its own country.
Since he’s just 38, Brad Gushue is obviously not one of those folks; the Dominion of Newfoundland and sovereign status came to an end back in 1933.
But even though they are the two-time Canadian men’s champions, you might forgive Gushue and his teammates on their St. John’s-based rink for feeling as if they are representing another nation this week in Conception Bay South.
After all, that provincial nationalism unique to Newfoundland will be on full display at the C.B.S. Arena, where Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker are taking part in the Boost National, the fourth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the season. It started Tuesday night as the team that owns almost the exclusive focus of local fans — here, there is Gushue and then there’s the rest of the field — got a loud and long standing ovation as they were introduced before the opening draw of the competition.
But the makeup of five-rink pool in which Gushue finds himself slotted also adds to the theme.
The other four teams in the pool are all from Europe. There’s Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland, who defeated Gushue 8-6 in an extra end Wednesday night; another Swiss rink skipped by Peter de Cruz; and two Scottish entries, headed up by Bruce Mouat and Ross Paterson.
Gushue had a good start against Schwaller, and led 4-2 after four ends, but Schwaller would go on score the next four points — three of them on steals — and Gushue needed to score two in the eighth just to force an extra end. Schwaller scored two in that additional frame.
Gushue faces Paterson tonight and de Cruz Thursday (both games are 8:30 p.m. NT) and Mouat Friday afternoon (4:30 p.m.)
There is one more North-American team — skipped by defending men’s world champion Niklas Edin — among the 15 entries in the National’s men’s division.
The international feel carries over to the women’s division, which also features 15 teams. In fact, more than half of the women’s field in C.B.S. consists of non-Canadians. That group includes Satsuki Fujisawa and Sayaka Yoshimura of Japan, Anna Hasselborg and Isabella Wrana of Sweden, Eve Muirhead of Scotland, Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland and Americans Nina Roth and Jamie Sinclair.