While Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton and Jason Gunnlaugson have been chasing their Olympic dreams, a young curler who has had links to both has quietly gone about his business closer to home.
With another $2,500 for qualifying at a World/Manitoba Curling Tour cashspiel in Stonewall last weekend, West St. Paul's Reid Carruthers has moved into the top of the MCT standings with $22,050.
With Gunnlaugson as his third, Carruthers skipped a squad to the brink of going to the Brier in 2006, losing the provincial final to Stoughton. During the 2007-2008 season, Gunnlaugson earned most of the CTRS points that got him into the Canadian Curling Pre-trials -- with Carruthers at the helm. But the two parted ways after Stoughton admitted that he had considered both of them as possible replacements for third Ryan Fry when he defected to Newfoundland's Brad Gushue.
Gunnlaugson split with skip Daley Peters after last season, then skipped his squad into next month's Canadian Curling Trials in Edmonton with a crack at playing in the Olympics. But Carruthers is not moaning about what could have been.
"I'm definitely proud of him and yeah, I'm jealous," Carruthers admitted. "I'm still very good friends with all of them and it was amazing to watch them on TV and see the crowd get behind Jason because he is so exciting to watch on the ice."
Carruthers had lunch with Gunnlaugson when he returned from the pre-trials and played slo-pitch with his third, Justin Richter, last summer. Lead Tyler Forrest also played for Carruthers when he won the Manitoba junior men's title in 2003.
"At the end of that (2008) season, I had to make a decision and felt it was time for me to move on and work towards my career," said Carruthers, who started teaching at J.H. Bruns High School this year. "If I was still with the team and knew I was in the pre-trials, I don't know if I could have gotten into teaching.
"But I'm really happy with the way things worked out. If things had ended poorly, it wouldn't have been good and who knows? We could still end up playing together again in the future. We're still friends but I still want to beat their butts every time I play them."
Now, with former Canadian junior men's champion Chris Galbraith at third, Carruthers is enjoying his best cashspiel season ever.
"We've played really well and we've qualified in six or seven spiels in a row," said Carruthers, who has yet to win one of those events, losing three finals. "We're building toward the MCT Championship and it is better to be one of the higher seeds there."
Carruthers, who was the all-star skip at last year's provincials, is also coaching high school curlers.
HOUSECLEANING: Assiniboine Memorial's David Bohn beat West Kildonan's Dave Elias 8-7 in an extra end to win the W/MCT spiel in Stonewall, earning $7,500. Elias pocketed $5,000. On the women's side, Morden's Chelsea Carey defeated AM's Janet Harvey 7-2 to win $5,000. Harvey got $2,500 ... Manitoba's Mike McEwen earned $11,000 at a WCT spiel in Ontario, not the $24,000 reported yesterday.
BITERS: Two extra junior berths have been added to this week's zone playdowns because the Junior Christmas Bonspiel will be held after the provincials. A fifth one will be added to the junior men's city zone playdowns to be played at the Rossmere Curling Club while junior women's rural zone 5 will get an extra one based on the number of entries ... Also on tap this weekend is a senior women's berth bonspiel at the Wildewood and a senior men's berth spiel in Manitou.