As curling fans and enthusiasts are readying for the Viterra Manitoba Men's Provincial Championship Wednesday in Stonewall, we caught up with some of the team players involved, including Olympic gold medallist Brad Jacobs, from Northern Ontario, playing for Team Carruthers, while practicing in Portage on Monday.
Jacobs explains how he's looking forward to playing against some Manitoba rinks.
"I'm not very familiar with the Manitoba teams," says Jacobs. "I'm the import on this team. A lot of the teams, I haven't played a whole lot in my career. So, it's a little bit new for me, but looking forward to the challenge. Reid (Carruthers) and these guys have played a lot of these teams before because they're all born and raised in Winnipeg."
He notes Manitoba is "super-rich" in curling history and tradition and has won the Canadian Men's Championship many times.
"Certainly, I've followed along a lot of the careers of some of the past champions out of Manitoba and I look up to a lot of those guys. So, it's really special for me, too, and an honour to be able to come from Northern Ontario and play out of Manitoba this year."
He adds it will be tough with all the great curlers and teams here.
"I just hope that a lot of people come out and support the event. As athletes, we'll just try to put on a great show for all the fans and everybody watching online."
Connor Njegovan is lead for Team Carruthers and will be up against 32 Manitoba teams.
"It's a huge event, so lots of young teams," says Njegovan. "Everybody's really, really good. So, you just, kind of, have to work hard and play well and, hopefully, everything falls your way. It's a long event with a lot of teams. It's really tough to win. We'll just have to be at our best. And if we do that, I like our chances of kicking around on Sunday."
He adds their second is Derek Samagalski, Reid Carruthers is playing third and Brad Jacobs is playing skip. Their coach is Rob Meakin.
"Reid, Derek and I have been together for a couple of years, and Reid and Derek have been together, the two of them, for over 10 years," says Njegovan. "We know each other well, and Brad jumped in last year and has been a full part of the team this year. So, it's so far, so good."