Gunnlaugson: We expect to win in Omaha
Canada's Team Gunnlaugson will be aiming for a Grand Final spot in Omaha.
Canadian men’s skip Jason Gunnlaugson says he “expects to win” the Curling World Cup second leg when his rink take to the ice in Omaha in less than two weeks’ time.
Gunnlaugson is not feeling the burden of representing the Maple Leaf after their clean sweep in Suzhou but knows there is a lot on the line with a spot in May’s Grand Final at stake.
“I don’t think it mattered [Canada winning all three events in Suzhou],” the 34-year-old said. “There will be lots of pressure as it is a major event, with a trip to the Grand Final on the line.
“We expect to win, but realise it is a tremendously hard field.”
Gunnlaugson is also relishing the opportunity to take on rivals United States on their home turf twice during the round-robin stage and will be going up against a skip in Nebraska with whom he is close friends.
The Canadians have only beaten their American counterparts on one of four occasions and will aim to even up that record when they face off in Nebraska.
“We get to play him [John Shuster] twice - we love it,” Gunnlaugson said. “I went to John’s wedding and have known him for a very long time.
“They beat us in Winnipeg (our home town) at a Grand Slam event last season, so we owe him one - or two!”
Team Gunnlaugson have undergone a change this season with Ian McMillan being replaced by Denni Neufeld and the Manitoban skip has been impressed by how seamlessly he has bedded in.
“Denni has been fitting in wonderfully. He brings so much to our squad in a number of different dimensions. If anything, he brought so much to the team that it took us a couple of months to fully digest it,” Gunnlaugson said.
“Denni is one of the most professional players in the sport, and a fantastic person, so off the ice it has been seamless even if he is the old guy now!”
The second leg of the Curling World Cup takes place between the 5-9 December and Gunnlaugson says he and his team “can’t wait to step on that ice and perform” at the Ralston Arena.
“We have talked to a fair few of the players about the first leg in Suzhou and they all have one key theme; the event is going to be world class!
“I expect Omaha to be fantastic. Everything I know about it suggests there is a huge following for all sports and a very active and enthusiastic organising committee.
“We have a ton of family and friends coming to watch and are very excited that it is relatively close to home.”