BRANDON, Man. — Ben Hebert referred to as it rock backside. Kevin Koe changed into stunned. Alongside Marc Kennedy and Brent Laing, the team walked off the ice depressed and without a medal.

It’s been a touch more than 12 months considering that Koe’s crew went to the Olympics and failed to reach the podium for Canada, losing 7-five to Switzerland within the bronze medal recreation.

“This turned into the most important bonspiel of our lives. It’s certainly going to sting for a while,” the skip said that February day in Pyeongchang.

To say there was disappointment is a large understatement.

“There’s no manner to sugar coat it,” Hebert stated. “We were prepared. We practiced. We said all the right matters and when it got here down to it our execution became brutal.”

That’s curling although and that is lifestyles, says the group’s head train and sports activities psychologist. John Dunn has spent greater than a decade of education Koe.

“The Olympics will scar anybody who went through that for all time. You don’t need faux it didn’t show up or positioned a band-resource over that,” Dunn said. “It becomes devastating. We failed to suppose for one second, and this is not arrogance, that we would not come domestically with out the gold medal.”

Dunn says the degree of a true athletic champion is how they respond in the face of adversity — and it is what’s using Koe in recent times, getting lower back to the Games and exacting redemption.

But while Dunn signed up to enroll in Koe for a 12th season, he wanted assurances they had been in it for any other Olympic cycle.

“I assume Kevin Koe is the excellent rock-thrower in the global and so does he,” Dunn stated. “That’s why I’m lower back. All I desired to know was that there had been a commitment to the adventure over the following four years.”

New faces, the fresh start
Koe is lower back at yet any other Brier, competing in the 16-crew field in his acquainted Alberta colors with Hebert at the lead.

There are new faces at the group this year. During the offseason the crew restructured, bringing in B.J. Neufeld at third in the location of Kennedy and Colton Flasch at 2nd in the location of Laing.

Both Koe and Hebert have carried out this all before, triumphing 3 Brier titles. They’ve received global championships too. Hebert even had an Olympic gold from his days with Kevin Martin again in 2010. There’s not a great deal these two have not received in the world of curling.

But Neufeld and Flasch, alternatively, have not received any essential titles.

“Having the brand new men who haven’t won the Brier, they provide us an extra kick and refreshing,” said Hebert. “It’s clean to get your juices flowing here.”

In a variety of approaches, having the new teammates has additionally made getting over the Olympic sting a little bit less complicated, says Dunn.

“I suppose the truth that it is a brand new group makes it less complicated for everybody to recommit and reset and remind us of what this adventure is about,” Dunn said. “The scar will constantly be there however maybe it affords greater motivation.”

Best curling with again against the wall
There’s some thing Kevin Koe loves approximately being below strain. Excluding the Olympics, he plays his high-quality curling just when humans depend him out.

Take as an instance this yr’s provincial championship in Alberta. After losing all of the way to the C-side inside the occasion, Koe changed into faced with having to win five consecutive games to make it to the Brier.

It’s almost as if he can flip an invincibility curling switch. What did Koe do whilst all people counted him out? Rattled off 5-immediately wins to capture the Alberta Tankard, including a semifinal win over Brendan Bottcher.

“During the week we have been OK, and then we shine within the playoffs,” Koe stated. “I’m aging. I can’t be at the pinnacle of my sport; it seems for every event, but this is the one we are aiming for.”

Koe, forty four, is playing in his 7th Brier this 12 months. He’s made it to the championship recreation five out of the six times — a outstanding feat considering the extent of expertise at the country wide occasion. And in plenty of those instances, Koe wasn’t the front-runner. He had to win playoff video games to get to the very last, stepping up whilst it subjects most.

“Don’t fear about Kevin. He’s a Brier participant,” Hebert stated. “He’s the closing guy I’m involved about. He’s the cause we’ve got carried out so properly through the years.”

Koe could make a few records this week with a Brier win. It might make him simply the fourth bypass to win 4 Canadian men’s championships; Ferbey, Kevin Martin and Ernie Richardson are the others.

But history apart, a win in Brandon would be only a little bit sweeter this year – it would function a reminder for themselves and the relaxation of the curling international that they may be returned, twelve months after the most important losses in their lives.

“At the stop of the quit of the day Kevin Koe is about Briers, Worlds and Olympics,” Dunn said. “There’s simplest one missing right now and that is why we are lower back.”

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