CALGARY — Brendan Bottcher has worked at his stone-cold game face.
Whatever drama is unfolding in the rings at his feet, Canada's skip at the world men's curling championship in Calgary intends to keep his emotional cards close to his chest.
"I think it's something I've both worked on and take a lot of pride in," Bottcher told The Canadian Press. "I'm a firm believer that as a leader of any team, the tone gets set from the top.
"If I can show that level of calmness, level of composure, that 'we've got this, we know what to do, we don't need to get excited, we don't need to get mad, we don't need to get stressed', as much as I can try and shelter my guys from some of that, I really think that energy feeds into the rest of our team."
Bottcher, third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin open the 2021 BK Tires and OK Tire World Men's Curling Championship against Scotland's Bruce Mouat on Friday at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre.
The foursome out of Edmonton's Saville Community Sport Centre will attempt to reclaim the world title for Canada.
Sweden's Niklas Edin defeated Canada's Kevin Koe and Brad Gushue in the 2019 and 2018 finals, respectively.
Gushue from St. John's, N.L., skipped the last Canadian team to win a world crown in 2017.
Bottcher's rink lost three straight national finals — twice to Gushue and once to Koe — before beating Koe on March 14 in Calgary to win its first Tim Hortons Brier.
So the 29-year-old Bottcher of Sherwood Park, Alta., has had big games in which to cultivate coolness in the heat of the moment.
He's also learned from the best within his own province. Calgary's Koe is a master of the unreadable expression on the curling ice whether his team is winning or losing.
"He's one of the guys who is the absolute best at that," Bottcher observed. "They're as hard of a team to beat when they get behind as they are when they get ahead early. That's just being tough.
"That's being gritty and over the course of a Brier, you might win a couple games because of that. I can think of a couple games we won this year that, if halfway through the game we started banging our brooms and swearing, there was no way we would have pulled out the victories."
As a counterbalance to his impassive face, Bottcher will continue a tradition that began during the Brier of wearing colourful socks.
Victoria's Barbara Wilson, 88, shipped Bottcher long multicoloured socks during the Canadian championship.
She stated in a handwritten letter she felt his ankle socks provided insufficient coverage. Bottcher wore them during games and says packages of socks have been shipped to him at the tournament hotel.
"I'm definitely up to counting them by the dozen," Bottcher said. "I've been able to share with my guys as well at this point. I'm hoping we'll get a variety of new socks here out at the worlds.
"We even had some come from down the States which I think is pretty cool. That was such an organic story that came up.
"It's just awesome there was someone that reached out and sent those my way and started this snowball going."
Canada faces Scotland's Bruce Mouat and Japan's Yuta Matsumura on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2021.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press