OTTAWA — The dream of returning to the Olympics is all but dead for Brad Jacobs.
Jacobs, who won the Olympic men’s curling gold medal in 2014 in Sochi, suffered his fourth loss of the 2017 Canadian curling trials on Thursday morning.
His team, which includes third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden, needs two wins and a miracle to have any chance to returning to the Olympics.
More likely, the team from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., will miss the playoffs, which begin Saturday at the Canadian Tire Centre.
“We’re not out of our misery yet, eh,” Jacobs said after a 9-5 loss to Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers. “I guess we’ll have to keep trying.”
Jacobs could be officially eliminated Thursday night with a loss to Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen, who is in playoff contention at 4-2.
“Yeah, I’m disappointed,” Jacobs said. “Even though I’m laughing, I am disappointed because I know we’re so much better than what we were this week. It just wasn’t meant to be for us this time.”
Jacobs was looking very strong at the start of the tournament but things started unravelling on Sunday when he missed an easy draw for the win against Kevin Koe and wound up giving up a steal for the loss. Just as concerning was blowing a 6-2 lead against Steve Laycock on Tuesday and losing 8-6.
“Unfortunately we lost a couple of really tough games and as much as we thought we could, and were, ready to bounce back from those games, I’m not sure we ever fully did,” E.J. Harnden said.
“Mentally we weren’t able to regain the confidence and composure and focus that we needed after a couple of losses that were really tough so close to together.”
Jacobs looked rattled after the miss against Koe but said he didn’t think that was the reason for the team’s demise.
“It was so early in the week and we outplayed them for 175 shots out of 176 shots,” Jacobs said. “But that’s how good this (field) is. You need to make everything.
“I don’t think the Koe game did anything to us. Even when we woke up (Thursday) morning, we were like, “OK, boys, let’s go. We’re still in this thing. We can still get second.’ And we didn’t execute, we didn’t perform.”
E.J. Harnden was asked if the fact that the team already won an Olympic gold medal made this week’s result easier to swallow.
“Yes and no,” he said. “Regardless of what happens going forward you’re always going to know that you are an Olympic gold medallist. At the same time, you know what it feels like. You’ve been there, you’ve had that taste and you want to get back and experience it again knowing everything that you know.
“How much more you probably could enjoy it the second time around because you have expectations in terms of what you’re going to deal with in terms of the pressure and the atmosphere. For us, this is going to be extremely disappointing because you work three or four years to try to do this all over again. It’s more disappointing that we didn’t leave it all out there. It would be one thing to get to the final or get to the playoffs and play really well and get beat in a really good game. It wouldn’t be easy to swallow but it would be easier knowing that we left it all out there.”