While his first Olympic trials didn’t go the way he wanted, Geoff Walker says he’s taking a lot away from the experience. The Beaverlodge curler throws lead rocks for Team Brad Gushue, who was downed by Mike McEwen in the men’s Roar of the Rings semifinal.
“We put in a lot of work over the past three-and-a-half years, four years to get to that point and to fall short is obviously disappointing,” he says. “It’s going to be a long four years to hopefully get back to that point. It’s going to sting for a little while and then hopefully we can try to defend our Brier and World title.”
Gushue’s rink got off to a rockier start than they would have liked, going 2-2 in the first four games of the round-robin. However, with their backs against the wall, their play improved and they won the rest of their matches leading up to the semis.
“We got on a roll; we started playing really well and we were slowly increasing our play, it seemed, every game, and just unfortunately in the semi-final we weren’t at our best,” says Walker. “We did play a pretty good game, but Mike – himself, especially – and his team played phenomenal and they were the better team.”
McEwen was bested by Kevin Koe in the final. Grande Prairie’s Tom Sallows again joined Team Gushue as an alternate.
Walker’s hopes of competing at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics aren’t completely dashed. After a couple weeks rest over the holiday season, he and his fiancée Laura Crocker are heading to the 2018 Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials in Portage La Prairie the first week of January.
“Hopefully can make the playoffs in that and see what happens,” Walkers says. “It’s going to be the same thing; when it gets down to the playoffs it’s one game playoffs and there’s a lot of the same faces that you would have seen at the trials this week and they’re going to all be looking for that second chance.”
Team Gushue will be back on the ice on January 11th for the Continental Cup, which they earned a spot in with their Brier win last year. The Grand Slam of Curling Canadian Open follows in Camrose. Walker’s hoping to repeat as Brier champions and head to the World Men’s championship in Las Vegas.