Ready to be No. 1 seed

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

As Jeff Stoughton's team learned painfully last year, being the top seed for the Safeway Select means about as much as a post-game handshake between notorious enemies Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey.

It looks good but has very little substance.

Stoughton's Charleswood foursome was again picked by the competitors as top seed for the 2005 Safeway Select, Feb. 9-13 in Selkirk, where it will try to avenge a stunning loss in last year's final to Swan River giant-killer Brent Scales.

"I hate losing, we all hate losing," Stoughton's third Jon Mead said yesterday.

Stoughton was the top seed in Brandon last year and looked to be cruising to his unprecedented fifth provincial men's curling title when Scales pulled off a shocker for the ages in the final.

So, you'll forgive Stoughton, Mead, second Garry Vandenberghe and lead Steve Gould if they're not dancing barefoot on the river to show their enthusiasm for yesterday's announcement.

Success will only be measured by what happens on the ice in Selkirk, and bigger events to come later.

"Winning this event and the Brier and the worlds, that's a major focal point of our year," said Mead. "Last year we did some things surrounding our approach that were ripe for us eventually having an off day and that happened. The big thing was we had a lot of competing priorities. Our big goal last year was to see if we could get ourselves qualified for the Olympic trials and we did that. We were able to call last year a good year without winning that one particular game."

Another four-time provincial champion, Kerry Burtnyk of Assiniboine-Memorial, is the second seed for Selkirk, where he won his last Select in 2001 by defeating Dale Duguid in one of the most memorable Manitoba finals.

Burtnyk was eliminated early from last year's Select, but says his team is in much better shape for a long run this time around.

"Last year we were a little rusty because we didn't play for two weeks before," Burtnyk said. "In the end, it did cost us.

"This year we've been playing a lot in the MCA (Bonspiel) and the (Grand Slam's Canadian Open) and now it's just a matter of whether we can put it together at the right time."

The top three seeds are the same as last year, with Dave Boehmer of the Grain Exchange taking the third spot.

Some pundits wondered aloud if Boehmer might sneak ahead of Burtnyk because of his recent history on the cash circuit, but the skip from Petersfield would have none of it.

"I kinda thought maybe we could get second seed, but that wouldn't be fair to Kerry, who has won this thing a few times," Boehmer said. "I think it's seeded exactly the way it should be.

"We're kinda always on the edge and never taking home the top prize but I'm not going to let it get to me. I'm just going to be patient and we are going to play our hearts out."

Scales, who has played in the last two provincial finals, is the fourth seed, while James Kirkness of Fort Rouge is fifth.

Don Spriggs of Portage is sixth, Murray Warren of Deloraine seventh and Chris Galbraith of Stonewall rounds out the top eight.


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