Olympic champion Brad Jacobs returns to curling
Brad Jacobs is back.
Speaking exclusively to CBC Sports’ That Curling Show, Jacobs announced that he is returning to professional curling as part of Team Carruthers.
The news comes just a few months after Jacobs was rested third for Reid Carruthers at a Grand Slam event in Camrose, Alta. – Carruthers announced just a few weeks earlier that he was splitting up with Jason Gunnlaugson and began looking for a replacement.
Jacobs, 37, who won the 2014 Olympic gold medal, says he immediately felt comfortable being part of the team at Camrose and can’t wait to start next season.
“I’m ready to get back into this full swing and there’s a really good opportunity with Team Carruthers,” Jacobs said on the show.
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To be clear, Jacobs says he never used the term retired from curling.
“No Tom Brady”
“I’m not Tom Brady. I never used that word, just for the record,” he said, laughing.
“It’s been an interesting season for me and of course for Reid. We played at Camrose and had a lot of fun. I didn’t really want to get back into the men’s game until at least 2023. I certainly wasn’t expecting to play this year, but Reid needed a man and I was available.”
Fans can get a first impression of this now official team at the Players’ Championship Slam in Toronto in early April. Jacobs will also play with Carruthers in the Champions Cup to wrap up the Slam season.
The team will maintain the same lineup as at Camrose next season. That means Jacobs, who has been a stepping stone throughout a hugely successful career that includes a 2013 Brier title, plays in third place.
“I was done with that position. I know how tough it is. Any position in curling is tough, but the skip position is just that much harder and it takes a special person and personality to successfully hold that position for years. ‘ said Jacobs.
“I have nothing but faith in this whole team. We have to put Reid on that pedestal and we have full confidence in him.”
Throughout the Brier, Carruthers leapfrogged his team of third-placed Derek Samagalski, second-placed Connor Njegovan and led Rob Gordon to a respectable 4-4 record. Gordon was brought in specifically for the Brier.
Carruthers, who won a Brier title in 2011 as part of a team skipped by Jeff Stoughton, is obviously thrilled that Jacobs chose his team to compete.
“When we lost a great player in Jason, I had to fill that void with someone who is elite. At the top of that list is Brad. It was just a question of whether he was there or not. We felt the same and we were. Luckily he was able to come to Camrose,” Carruthers said.
“Our mindset for next season is very similar to what we’re doing and what we want to achieve.”
The two even lived together in Camrose and bonded instantly, something they both say is pivotal at this point in their careers.
“I’ve gotten to a point in my life where enjoying the sport and clicking on and off the ice is extremely important. Everyone wants to win, but finding a tight group and finding your way off the ice is extremely important. That’s what I found with these guys,” Jacobs said.
“Reid has been an incredible player and an incredible leader throughout his career. I loved the way he led the team, the respect everyone has for Reid.”
There’s a mutual respect the two have for each other.
“We just felt like we clicked and learned from each other. Brad is a student of the game. Some of the things we did with the sweep he soaked up right away like a sponge. I feel like he’s adding a wealth of knowledge to us as well,” Carruthers said.
Carruthers says when news of Jacobs gets out there will be a tidal wave of changes across Canada’s men’s curling landscape – something not dissimilar to what fans saw in the wake of last year’s Olympic cycle, when almost every elite men’s team made changes to their roster.
“What I want to say is that for the last 48 hours my phone has rang which is an honor but I feel like there are a lot of players and teams waiting to hear what Brad is doing. So I have a feeling this is the pen in the grenade so once this news gets out I have a feeling there will be some movement in the near future.
“I think it’s going to shock some people because I’m getting messages from teams and players that I wasn’t expecting. The bar in Canadian curling is currently set high. With the men, you have a team like Gushue that everyone wants to chase. Teams want to get better, so I’m not that surprised.”
Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario is just happy to be back in the game after sitting out that past Brier.
“I was paying close attention to what was going on. That was an incredible brier. I couldn’t believe the quality of the shot making,” he said.
“And Ryan and EJ competing in the finals. I didn’t really get much sleep Saturday and Sunday night. I was pretty emotional about the whole thing. You should keep your head up. This will be something they will never forget and all of us as a family will never forget. Congratulations to both teams on making it to the final and the level of play was amazing.”