Team Ontario’s John Epping arrives at this year’s Tim Horton’s Brier with perhaps his best chance of winning a national men’s curling championship.
The 36-year-old skip, who hails from nearby Peterborough, On enters this year’s tournament ranked second in the world. Last month in Cornwall, Epping’s rink went undefeated enroute to their second-provincial championship.
This week in Kingston, Epping will look to build off of the success he has enjoyed in the first part of the season, in the hopes of capturing his first Brier title.
Epping also enters the week with a lot to prove: last year his squad lost to eventual Brier runner-up Brendan Bottcher in the Wild Card Game, missing the field at nationals.
Epping last competed at a Brier in 2018, and much has changed for his rink this time around. In the fall of 2018, the skip brought on 2014 Olympic gold medalist Ryan Fry as his third.
“For me it’s been so special to play with a guy I’ve been great friends with for years,” Epping said of Fry’s addition to the team. “This is an event that he really works on to make sure that he’s going to peak at…and he showed that today.”
The reformed Epping squad is a force to be reckoned with, especially seeing as they will have their hometown crowd on their side throughout the week.
“It’s great because we have so many friends and family, and curling clubs coming down to see us. I think just to have all the fans…and our family here just means a lot to us.”
On Saturday afternoon, Epping’s rink got their 2020 campaign off to a strong start, beating defending champion Kevin Koe 5-3 in front of a near-capacity Leon’s Centre crowd.
Despite their success this season, Epping’s rink will face a tough battle in their quest for the national championship.
Team Ontario is slotted alongside the likes of Mike McEwen, Jim Cotter and Matt Dunstone (all with numerous Briers under their belt) in Pool A of the round robin. The team will have to play their very best all week if they are to contend with the many national, world and Olympic champions in the field.
Team Epping’s quest for the national men’s curling championship continues Sunday at the Leon’s Centre; where they face BC and Yukon in back-to-back draws.