What might have been

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:15 PM ET

STEINBACH -- They watched highlights of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday wondering once again just what might have been.

And the insides of some of Jeff Stoughton's foursome started to churn as the pain of losing the Olympic curling trials final to Brad Gushue came flooding back.

"Toughest thing we had to do," second Garry Van Den Berghe admitted during the Safeway Select here yesterday. "Jeff kept bugging me and said, 'C'mon, let's watch this,' and I was, 'I can't, I can't.' We watched the highlights and it was just like, 'Whoa, geez, it would be spectacular to be there.'"

And they relived the agony of the biggest defeat of their curling lives.

"Pretty much," conceded Van Den Berghe. "Never really stopped yet. Keep playing, try to play well and hopefully, we can erase it (the pain). But, uh-uh."

Although they never caught any of the curling teams on TV, they did picture themselves marching in with the Canadian Olympic team in Turin, Italy.

"You sort of look back and say, 'Ay-ya-yi, it would be fantastic to be there, there's no doubt about it," Stoughton said. "It looked fantastic. What can you say? It's everyone's dream in the sense of an athlete to get to the Olympics. It looked pretty exciting and something that we'd want to be a part of. The lighting of the torch and all that stuff, it looked pretty great.

"But our goal here is to get to the Brier now and play in March. It's still disappointing, no doubt, for all the guys, but curling-wise and talking about it, it doesn't hurt as much as it used to, in a sense."

Third Jon Mead pretended to be in denial.

"I don't know what you're talking about, I'm not aware of any big event that's on right now," he joked. "This (Select) is the only curling event I'm aware of."

Then he got serious.

"I remember talking to Patti Burtnyk a couple of weeks ago and she said that when (her husband) Kerry lost that (2001 Olympic trials final), it wasn't until they saw the (2002) opening ceremonies that it sort of set in. So I think I was sort of preparing myself a bit to see that and it was all right. It would be neat to be there but there's no regrets and we wish them (Gushue) luck. But that lighting of the torch was pretty spectacular."

EASE SOME PAIN

But would winning the Brier ease some of the pain?

"No, because they are totally unrelated," Mead said. "For anybody who's playing in this (Select), they want to win for the sake of winning and it will never make up for losses. The only thing it would do is it would put a stamp on a pretty good couple of months of playing for us. We've probably played the best we've ever played as a unit. That's what it's all about and it will never erase that, nor does it need to. That's part of sport and you move on."

Lead Steve Gould had planned to nap through the highlights but Mead would not let him.

"Every now and then, Jon would say, 'Look at that, Steve,'" he said. "And it obviously looked very cool when we saw the highlights. And Russ Howard (Gushue's second who calls the shots), there was actually a picture of him in the Sun (yesterday) -- right behind the flag-bearer.

"We were laughing because it was funny. I kept saying, 'Jonny, I can't believe we're not there.' Then my wife will say to me, 'I can't believe you got that close.' Truthfully, when you think about the whole scheme of things, it was cool that we got that close.

"I'm just quite thankful that I don't have to wear one of those goofy hats, actually."


Videos

Photos