Gunner making noise

JIM BENDER

, Last Updated: 3:40 AM ET

Keep your sights trained on the 'Gunner.'

While B.C.'s Kelly Scott was sending a message to her competitors at the Olympic trials qualifiers at a women's Grand Slam event in Winnipeg on Monday, Manitoba's Jason Gunnlaugson was doing the same thing on Portage la Prairie pebble at the same time.

Gunnlaugson may have lost the World/Manitoba Curling Tour final to Manitoba's two-time Brier champion Kerry Burtnyk, but he showed that his foursome should not be taken lightly, despite being seeded No. 12 in the 12-team field that will be in Prince George, B.C. next month.

Gunnlaugson not only advanced to the final, he defeated Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton in a semifinal. Stoughton has been seeded No. 1 for the trials qualifier where four teams will earn a trip to the Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton in December.

Manitoba's Mike McEwen, who is also heading to Prince George, failed to qualify in Portage. Including Burtnyk, all four of the B.C.-bound Manitoba teams will compete in their last cashspiel before the qualifier in Brooks, Alta., this weekend.

STILL ON TOP: Although Manitoba's Jennifer Jones lost the final to Scott on Monday, the reigning Canadian champ extended her lead in the Capital One Cup standings. Jones, who will be heading directly to the Olympic trials in Edmonton, now has 21 points, seven more than Scott.

But a real eye-opener is that Manitoba's Kerri Flett, who is skipping Karen Porritt's former team, is in sixth place with nine points.

A purse totalling $170,000 will be awarded to the top three men's and women's teams which record the highest cumulative results during the Grand Slam series.

Porritt, by the way, has hooked up with former Manitoba junior women's champion Calleen Neufeld, who had been looking for someone to complete her team.

NEW GOAL: Just to set the record straight, no one stole the E in Lisa Blixhavn's surname. Lisa Roy married a fellow with a Norwegian name and has moved to Killarney, where this year's provincial Scotties will be held for the first time.

"It's always nice to play in what is considered your hometown," said Blixhavn, who failed to qualify at the women's Grand Slam event at the Fort Rouge Curling Club last weekend. "That's our goal."

Blixhavn is living on a pig farm and teaching part-time at a Hutterite colony.

SENIOR MOMENT: I ran into Mark Olson at last week's Blue Bombers game and he was positively bubbling over about reuniting with Granite's Vic Peters for senior competition.

"I'm going to be the first guy who came back after five years of retirement to win the senior world championship," he predicted.

Peters, who is once again playing with his son, Daley, on the men's tour, will be skipping Olson, second Chris Neufeld and Charlie Salina in the Lloyd Gunnlaugson Memorial Senior Bonspiel that starts at the Thistle Curling Club tonight.

Brandon's Brian Fowler and Heather's Rita VandeVyvere will attempt to defend their titles.

COMING UP: The Safeway Championship Southern Berth Bonspiel will be played at the East St. Paul Curling Club this weekend ... Manitoba's Jennifer Jones will be competing at a cashspiel in Saskatoon ... The second annual Top Hat Bonspiel in memory of Brad Arnason will be held in Gimli, Nov. 20-22. For more info, call Dwayne Arnason at 204-651-0153 or Robin Nelson at 204-489-9826 ... CFRW's Rock Talk curling show with Resby Coutts was back on the air this week. It starts at 7 p.m., every Monday.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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