In just the past two weeks, one of Manitoba's all-time greats has lost half his team.
Jeff Stoughton's long-time third, Jon Mead, has decided to take at least next year off to spend more time with his wife, Eileen and three-year-old daughter, Sophia, and commit more time to his job.
"There is a time for everything," Mead, 38, said yesterday. "This team was all about the Olympic trials and we invested more time in the last couple of years so, we could go even further (Olympics). My family and my job had given me the time to focus on that pursuit without complaint. I want a different emphasis in my life now and not have my schedule determined by curling."
Stoughton lost the Olympic trials final to Newfoundland's Brad Gushue, who won the Olympic gold medal.
Mead was starting to miss too many of Sophia's activities while competing, practising and spending time with team sponsors.
ONE OF THE BEST
Mead, who is arguably one of the best three thirds in Canada, also admitted that competing in the Brier and the Grand Slam events "don't jack me up the way they did (before pursuing the Olympic dream).
"But this has nothing to do with the curling or my teammates," he assured. "But look at the guys who have lost families or jobs because they were chasing their curling dreams."
Nor does this have anything to do with the knee injury that almost kept him from curling in the Brier. In fact, Mead still plans to play for Stoughton at a new World Curling Tour event in Victoria this weekend and the Players' Championships in Calgary later this month.
Although Brandon's Rob Fowler will reportedly play second, Stoughton said that has yet to be confirmed. Ryan Fry, who had earlier replaced retiring second Garry Van Den Berghe, would apparently move up to replace Mead at third.
Stoughton is in danger of losing his defending champion's berth into the 2007 Safeway Select because not enough of his team is intact.
Stoughton politely declined further comment until today.