Team Brad Jacobs starts the rock season in fine fashion; Swift Current the next stop

Sault Ste. Marie curler Brad Jacob fist pumps after a shot at the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier in March of 2020. After a pair of top-three results to start the 2021-22 curling season, Jacobs and his crew are preparing for the Major League Western Showdown in Swift Current on Oct. 8-11. Ian MacAlpine/Kingston Whig-Standard/ Postmedia Network.

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From a collective perspective, the opening two weekends of the curling season were proof-positve for Team Jacobs.

The Brad Jacobs foursome defeated Tanner Horgan to win the Oakville Labour Day Classic, finishing second to Bruce Mouat at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard a week later.

“We wanted to get out and compete early, that was really our main goal because last year, being a shortened season, we realized that not being able to compete and see one another as often as we would have like was not beneficial for our team,” Jacobs said. “We wanted to get out, start early, and no better place start than in Oakville with two really good back-to-back events.”

The foursome picked up $13,000 in total prize money for eight days of effort.

The foursome — consisting of third Marc Kennedy, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden — has made it a habit of executing high-pressure shots in high-pressure situations, but the consecutive weekends in Oakville, Ont., were a chance to make shots without the ancillary distractions following elite curling teams.

“We wanted to get out and compete with no expectations and get out there, make a whole bunch of curling shots and have some fun, get together as a team and really, play pressure free,” Jacobs said. “We were able to do that and I think that’s why we were able to have some success in those first two events.”

Currently, three quarters of the team is on the ice five nights a week in preparation for the Major Western League Showdown in Swift Current, Sask. Kennedy is back home with his family in St. Albert, Alta. Kennedy will meet the squad at the event in Swift Current, set for Oct. 8-11.

Throwing a 44-pound polished granite curling stone is a touchy-feely process: the draw to the button, the weighted shot, certain aspects of the game need touch, groove and time to replicate.

Not to worry local curling fans.

“We’re lucky in Sault Ste. Marie that we have really great conditions. We’ve got a state of the art curling club here and any opportunity we can to get on the ice and work on our game we take that almost every single day,” Jacobs said. “Curling is very much a feel game and feel is important: the more you’re on the ice working on that, the better off you’ll be.”

Even without Kennedy in the everyday lineup here in Ontario, the team knows what needs to be done to compete for the $50,000 prize purse.

“We’re not going to be together with Marc before Swift Current,” Jacobs said. “The big thing for us, right now, is just making sure we work, put a lot of effort into technical: our delivery and our mechanics and really get comfortable with our feet on the ice. Any time we have an opportunity to practise individually, or as a team, really work on fine-tuning our delivery, regaining that sense of feel, the more that we can work on those things and repeat repeatedly, the better we’re going to feel when we compete.”

Even in the midst of this competitive season, Jacobs found the COVID-19 break an important refresher course in what’s vital at an elite sporting level.

“One of the things that we’ve found, it did for us, we have a new appreciation for the importance of competing and the importance of training, that we need to be together as often as we can, also maintaining a good balance of resting and recovery,” Jacobs said. “We got together, we got out there and got some competitive games early and that was really our goal and to see how things went.”