THUNDER BAY -- Brad Jacobs is still getting used to his newfound celebrity status.
The Sault Ste. Marie curler, who stormed to the top of the curling world earlier this year with an Olympic gold medal in Sochi, has in the blink of an eye become one of the sport’s most recognizable stars.
“Our rise to success happened very quickly. We’re adjusting to it. We’re trying to get used to it and are taking it day-by-day,” Jacobs said while in the city to make an appearance at the Staal Foundation Open.
“We’re recognized everywhere we go now and if you want to become something special in a sport it comes with the territory and we’re welcoming it.”
The travel schedule, as well as ensuing appearances and demands for his time, resulted in Jacobs having to take a six-month leave of absence from his job as a financial account manager.
The run to the top for the squad, which includes third Ryan Fry and brothers Ryan and EJ Harnden on the front end, started at last year’s Tim Horton’s Brier.
Jacobs and his squad finished the men’s national championship with a victory over British Columbia in the finals, becoming the first foursome from Northern Ontario to win the title since 1985, when Al Hackner accomplished the feat with what is widely considered one of the greatest shots in the history of the sport.
The win might have come as a surprise to casual curling fans but the team quickly made it apparent it was not a fluke.
The team entered last December’s Olympic trials as a bit of a dark horse but dominated the competition, finishing with an undefeated record and winning the right to don the maple leaf in Sochi.
It was securing the Olympic berth that made it feel like the rink had finally broken through the glass ceiling.
“Winning the Brier to us was a huge shock but it made us feel like we belong at the top of the game. To back it up made it feel like we weren’t a one-hit wonder. We backed it up against the toughest men’s curling field of probably all-time and then went and did it at the Olympics too,” Jacobs said.
The success has not gone unnoticed by the next generation.
The sport is seeing a resurgence in their hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, which is spilling through the rest of Northern Ontario.
“We’ve had a lot of kids take a lot more interest in curling since we’ve come along, being a younger team and having success. We’re happy to do our part and hopefully grow the game beyond our area and go Canada wide,” he said.
Earlier this month Jacobs and his team hosted their celebrity golf tournament, with the proceeds from that event benefitting junior golf and curling programs as well as a bursary at Algoma University.
The 29-year-old was one of only three curlers participating in the Porter Airlines Celebrity Pro-am, joining local legends Hackner and Rick Lang.
Being involved with the Staal Foundation, a new endeavour for the city’s four famous hockey brothers, was an opportunity Jacobs couldn’t pass up.
“Everything they’re doing in raising money for kids and families with cancers is such a great cause,” Jacobs said.
And he added to his growing trophy case as his pro-am team, which included PGA Tour Canada member Ryan Brehm, posted the lowest score in the event.
Click here to report a typo or error
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Remember me next time.