Hoping for golden touch

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

Adding a World Universiade gold medallist to his squad may give James Kirkness a Midas touch, too.

As The Sun previously reported, Brandon\'s Mike McEwen -- who won the World Universiade championship in January -- has hooked up with Kirkness to replace Travis Graham at third.

\"We were fishing around for a third and he just contacted me out of the blue,\" Kirkness said yesterday. \"I guess he didn\'t get as far as he would have liked with his Brandon team in the provincials the last couple of years and, with the success we\'ve had, he can move to a team that might have a chance to win again.

\"If he can adjust to the third position, he\'ll be all right. And he might be that last little thing we need to get us over the top.\"

Kirkness, who won the 1998 Manitoba title at third for Dale Duguid, has been a legitimate threat to win the last two Safeway Selects.

\"Travis just had a child before the Select and just took on a new sales job so he didn\'t know how much time or money he could commit to curling next year,\" said Kirkness, who still has Ross McFadyen and A.J. Girardin on the front end. \"We enter a lot of spiels and that takes a lot of time and money.\"

NO EXEMPTIONS: It will come as no shock that the MCA has basically tabled the results of its Select survey, which included whether to award three exemptions to top Grand Slam squads for next year\'s provincials.

\"We decided it was fruitless to go ahead until there is an agreement between the WCPA and the CCA (concerning the Slam),\" said MCA president Rick Mutton. \"And if there is no agreement, they\'re not going to play (in the provincials) anyway.

\"Our hands are already tied for next year anyway. All of the spots have already been awarded -- such as the defending champion -- and we\'re not going to change that.\"

JUNIOR COIN: It is still the richest junior cashspiel in Canada and, thanks to a five-year agreement with the Optimist Club of Assiniboia, this weekend\'s annual spiel at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club just got richer. Featuring the top teams from the junior provincial playdowns, they will be playing for a total purse of $7,000 and, for the first time, there will be separate male and female events.

Both finals go at 5 p.m. Sunday, with the guys vying for the $2,400 top prize and the girls, $800.

The Vic Peters team also continues to be a major sponsor.

However, organizer Ron Kammerlock wondered why the MCA would schedule its annual Youth Jamboree to start the same day as the finals.

KOREANS HERE: A Korean women\'s B team is in town for a month-long training session with provincial coach Kelly Parsons. It will be playing at the Granite Curling Club today at 4:30 p.m.

COMING UP

Brandon University\'s Mike McEwen will be defending his national title at the Canadian University Curling Championships in Regina this week. Among those challenging him will be the U of Manitoba\'s Ryan Hyde. On the women\'s side, Jennifer Sheppard will represent the U of M while Kristin Mosiondz is going for Brandon ... McEwen, however, will not be defending his Manitoba Mixed title in Brandon this weekend ... B.C.\'s Kevin MacKenzie, Alberta\'s Heather Nedohin (David\'s wife) and Manitoba\'s 2002 junior world champion David Hamblin will be among the celebrity skips at the 12th annual Bluebird Celebrity Bonspiel at the Granite this weekend. It raised $35,000 for the Arthritis Society last year ... The Canadian Firefighters Curling Championship wraps up at the Fort Rouge on Saturday, with the 2 p.m. final to be televised on Shaw.


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