Already looking ahead

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

No sooner had he landed in Winnipeg than Randy Dutiaume was already making plans to start on the road back to the Brier.

The recently formed Manitoba foursome, of course, shocked the experts by finishing second to Alberta's eventual champion Randy Ferbey but lost both playoff games at this year's Canadian men's curling championship in Edmonton.

"I think our time will come and we're going to try," Dutiaume said at the Winnipeg International Airport, shortly after being greeted by a small group that included Team Canada's Scotland-bound Jennifer Jones yesterday. "It (Brier) was pretty special. I put my entry fee in for next year.

"I'm going to work out this summer like crazy, and I told the guys to lay off the beer and the pizza, and maybe we'll go somewhere next year. We'll be going into some spiels -- hopefully some of the bigger ones, where we can play some top-notch teams. We'll still play in the Manitoba tour because that is the backbone of Manitoba curling, and I really enjoy the people on that tour. There's good competition there, too and it's close to home. Some of the guys don't have too much holiday time left. But we're going to try hard to try to repeat next year."

As the reigning Manitoba champ, Dutiaume gets an automatic berth into next year's Safeway Select. But the squad does not plan to coast. Dutiaume will draw up a bonspiel schedule and elicit advice from Connie Laliberte, director of the MCA's high performance centre.

Manitoba third Dave Elias was still absorbing the success of a squad that was just formed two months ago.

"It's kind of surreal, actually," he said. "I don't know how it happened but it did. We were a game away from getting to the final AND an Olympic trials spot. But it was excellent. We had a great time, played pretty good, other than the last game there. And it was a whole lot of fun. Edmonton's a great town.

"We've got to practise and play hard. We're back in the provincials next year, so we'll be there and we'll see how it goes. It's obviously hard to win the province back-to-back, but we'll give it a try."

However, that semifinal loss to Nova Scotia's Shawn Adams will leave a bitter taste.

"My only regret is not playing our best in the last game," said lead Shane Kilgallen. "I don't mind getting beat if we play good, but we didn't play very good. But that's the way it goes. We'll have to live with that and try to improve on it if we ever get the chance again."

Dutiaume drew the most attention a non-winner has received since Quebec's Guy Hemmings won the hearts of Canadian curling fans at the 1998 Brier in Winnipeg.

"I wasn't trying to think of new things," he said. "The guys were telling me, 'Hey, you'd better come up with some new one-liners.' Every time I was talking, competitors would say, 'Oh, there goes another 100 trees.' I was just having fun, and I was just so happy to have the attention and be in the spotlight like that."

And did he ever have that promised beer guzzling contest with Ferbey?

"No I didn't, but I tell ya, I'd give him a good go at that one," Dutiaume responded with a laugh. "I'd like to spank his arse."


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