Ex-champ seeks Christmas bonus

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:06 AM ET

A former provincial champ will be down to his last crack at qualifying for the provincials in his team's final year of juniors next week.

Pembina's Reid Carruthers, who won the 2003 title, must make the Manitoba playdowns through the annual Junior Christmas Bonspiel, which opens at various clubs on Monday.

"It's been a long time since (the berth bonspiel) and all the guys are a little nervous," admitted Carruthers, supported by third Adam Walker, second Tyler Forrest and Ryan Hlatkey. "But we're also excited. Normally, our team likes a lot of pressure. It will be tough but we're not scared."

The junior spiel can be a crapshoot playing against loose teams that have already earned provincial berths and others still hungry for one of the last two available.

Carruthers, you may recall, missed out on the city zone playdowns because the Manitoba Curling Association never got his entry, despite the fact it was sent the same day as his bonspiel entry (which the MCA did receive) in a different envelope. After Carruthers pleaded his case to no avail, his foursome was first accepted, then rejected from a rural zone.

"We definitely made it harder on ourselves but what's done is done," he said.

"We can't dwell on it. To get upset about it isn't going to help me win any games."

If there is one thing in his favour, it is that the year he won Manitoba, Carruthers had qualified through the Christmas spiel.

"If we get the spot through the Christmas bonspiel, I hope it carries through to the provincials," said Carruthers, 19. "But we can't look that far ahead."

On the junior women's side, Granite's Chelsea Carey is the most prominent team still seeking one of the two berths up for grabs.

BITERS: Someone blew it when none of the Canada Cup Bonspiel finals were televised Sunday. With four Olympic trials berths being earned, those spiels created more interest than the Canada Cup itself, where only two will be awarded ... Now that the prospect of an Olympic singles competition has become more than idle talk among World Curling Federation reps and their cronies, each province should be planning one of its own. Whether singles is accepted as an Olympic discipline or not, there will be world singles championships next winter. And you do not have to be a member of a competing team at the worlds to qualify ... Don't believe repeated reports that Winnipeg lost out on hosting the 2007 Brier because Grand Slam organizers beat the MCA to booking the MTS Centre for three years. You can bet the MCA had little desire to host a Brier in Winnipeg within six months of the 2006 Grey Cup here -- learning its lesson from the '98 Brier ... Check the MCA website for gift suggestions ... And, have a merry curling Christmas!

DEADLINES: For entries into both the Safeway Select city zone playdowns and the MCA Women's Bonspiel are tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. Teams are advised to confirm them with the MCA office. Deadline for the MCA bonspiel entries is Jan. 4.

COMING UP

The Labatt Fort Rouge Christmas Spiel, to be played Dec. 26-30, will be the last chance to qualify for the Manitoba Curling Tour Championship, to be played in Ste. Anne early next month ... Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton will be competing at the $100,000 M&M Meat Shops Skins Game, which will be shown on Sportsnet from Waterloo, Ont., Dec. 27-29. Stoughton plays Alberta's Kevin Martin on Dec. 28 at 7:30 a.m. Alberta's Randy Ferbey and John Morris, Ontario's Glenn Howard and Wayne Middaugh, Nova Scotia's Mark Dacey and N.B.'s Russ Howard are also competing.


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