Brier spot everything to Scales
By PAUL FRIESEN, SPORTS COLUMNIST
BRANDON -- Brent Scales and Jeff Stoughton may have climbed to the top of the heap here yesterday, but do they ever have different views. The two skippers guided their rinks to the first two qualifying spots, ensuring they'll be part of today's three-team playoff for the provincial men's curling crown.
Last man standing this afternoon, of course, earns a trip to the Brier, every Canadian curler's dream.
At least, that's the feeling you get talking to the Scales team, four small-town guys from Swan River who view the Canadian curling championship as their Holy Grail.
Look into their eyes and ask them what it would mean to represent Manitoba, and you get the same misty-eyed look that hockey players invariably take on when talking about the Stanley Cup.
"Oh, I know it'd be a lifelong dream for everyone, all our parents and everything," Todd Trevellyan, who plays lead for Scales, was saying yesterday. "It's something you dream about as a kid. You probably couldn't put words on it, if it ever did happen."
Trevellyan, who works for the family plumbing business, figures the whole town would blow a gasket because the game is such a big part of life there.
"That's how we all started -- all our moms and dads curled," he said. "We were all down at the rink. Especially in a small town, it's a lot different."
Contrast that with the words of Stoughton, who summed up what this week means to him in two words: Olympic Trials.
"Oh yeah," the four-time Manitoba champ said. "That's what it's about."
Under the new team ranking system, winning the province would virtually guarantee Stoughton a spot in next year's Olympic Trials, as long as they didn't completely collapse at the Brier.
So for a World Curling Tour regular like Stoughton, this is simply a means to an end.
For Scales, who's played just one event outside the province this year, it's the end.
"He wants to go to the Brier," Stoughton said. "And our goals are obviously a little different."
Stoughton actually walked the fine line of controversy (what else is new?) when, a while back, he said he hadn't missed this event at all during the boycott by the Grand Slammers the last two years.
For guys like Trevellyan and Scales, he may as well be speaking in tongues.
"They have won it, how many times now? So maybe it finally does happen that way," Trevellyan said. "But I don't know. I can't see how you'd ever get tired of winning. Ever. I'd like to have all of 'em hanging in my basement.
"There's 31 teams here that would kill for the chance to represent Manitoba."
Actually, he added, Stoughton probably would, too. But he'd made his point.
Because of the big money up for grabs in this game now, curling for a simple shoulder patch doesn't quite do it for everybody.
For example, if Stoughton were to lose today, he'll be the first to tell you the whole week was a waste of his time.
"It's probably easier to lose two of your first three games and go home than to lose the final," the former world champ said. "We're experienced enough that we're not going to learn anything from it. We've won all there is to win. There's nothing gained... there's no second prize."
Actually, the two sides probably agree on that.
After a heartbreaking result in last year's final, and another close call in 1998, Scales likely doesn't need another lesson in losing.
"It definitely burns a fire," the 39-year-old skip said. "And makes you want to get back and try it again."
Two teams, two very different reasons to be playing today.
Who wants it more? You decide.
On second thought, maybe they'll show us today.