Lunch Box returns

Randy Dutiaume at the Safeway Select in Selkirk on Feb. 11, 2005. (SUN/John Woods)

Randy Dutiaume at the Safeway Select in Selkirk on Feb. 11, 2005. (SUN/John Woods)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

He is returning to the Roarin' scene where he simply relished his 15 minutes of rock fame.

Manitoba's Randy Dutiaume became both a fan favourite and media darling for rattling off phrases like "a whoopee-dazzler" and "happier than a pig in poop" at the 2005 Edmonton Brier, where he unexpectedly made the playoffs. Now, the man who dubbed himself "Lunch Box" is going back to the Alberta capital for the Canada Cup men's qualifying bonspiel, which starts tomorrow.

"It will be nice but I haven't given it much thought, although I have been trying to find the guy who drove us around that week," Dutiaume said. "We made some friends while we were there but we're not going there to renew old friendships, we're trying to get to the Canada Cup.

"Plus, we're in the running to get to the (Grand) Slam here (next month). Vic (Peters) is a little ahead of us right now."

Four teams will earn trips to the Canada Cup, where the winner will qualify for the 2009 Olympic trials qualifying spiel. And Dutiaume is taking dead aim at making it to the 2009 trials. Dave Elias is still at third, Shane Kilgallen has moved up to second to replace Greg Melnichuk and Chris Suchy is now at lead.

"Our team has half-assed made a commitment for the next four years to try to get to the trials," said Dutiaume, 44. "The best way is to win the province, then the Brier. Getting to the Brier is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people and we have shown we can win against those teams. We'd really like to go back."

'PRETTY HAPPY'

With $14,500 in earnings to date, Dutiaume is 26th on the WCT money list and 27th on the CCA's CTRS standings.

"We're pretty happy with where we are in the rankings and we certainly have been playing at a pretty high level," he said.

And that is in direct contrast to where he was at this time last year.

"I had a bit of a Brier hangover last year," Dutiaume admitted. "After a whirlwind tour on the banquet circuit, I wasn't mentally ready to curl. In December, I was exhausted."

This year, Dutiaume started taking taekwondo with his seven-year-old son, Liam.

"That has prepared me better mentally and physically, I'm in better shape, too," he said.

Manitoba's Kerry Burtnyk, Jeff Stoughton, Allan Lyburn, Reid Carruthers and Peters will also be in Edmonton, where $68,800 is up for grabs, too.

STREAKER: Former Manitoba junior provincial champion Allison Nimik qualified for her eighth straight provincial championship, but first in women's, at second for Fort Rouge's Shauna Streich last weekend. Now, she is heading to Ottawa for the women's Canada Cup qualifier (four teams), her biggest event since the national juniors.

"I'll be playing against my idols, like (Saskatchewan's) Stephanie Lawton and (Alberta's) Shannon Kleibrink," said Nimik, 21. "That will be something else."

Although she has already qualified for the Canada Cup, Manitoba's Jennifer Jones is also headed to Ottawa because it is worth CTRS points and there is a total of $71,200 on the line.

Other Manitobans going are: Janet Harvey, Barb Spencer, Kristy Jenion, Liza Park, Karen Porritt and Darcy Robertson.

GAMES TRIALS: Calleen Neufeld's junior lead, Breanne Meakin, will return to skipping at the Canada Games Trials, to be held at the Granite Curling Club this weekend.

"I'm looking forward to skipping again and to the Canada Games," Meakin said recently. "That will be awesome."

Both the girls and boys winners will represent Manitoba at the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, Feb. 24-March 10.

COMING UP: Although 14 of Manitoba's top men's and women's teams have gone to the Canada Cup qualifying bonspiels, the $24,000 Manitoba Curling Tour Championships will soldier on without them in Portage la Prairie this weekend. A Safeway Select spot is on the line for the men's winner, where a full 24 teams have entered. The women will have eight squads -- twice as many as last year. The finals, however, will not be televised ... The Strathcona Senior Men's city zone playdowns start today while the Mondetta Senior Women's zone playdowns begin Friday ... The entry deadline for the Junior Christmas Bonspiel and the Masters zones is tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. Contact the MCA.

HOUSE CLEANING: Arborg's Kyle Foster upset Petersfield's Dave Boehmer 9-4 in the final of an early men's rural zone late Monday. Supported by third Kris Jonasson, second David Wowk and Cory Hibbert, Foster earned a trip to the 2007 Safeway Select, to be played in Dauphin, Feb. 7-11 ... After Brandon's Terry McNamee won the Select spot up for grabs at the Brandon Bonspiel, he lost the final to USA's Craig Disher 6-1. Disher pocketed $1,500 while McNamee got $1,000. "We played well and it was nice to win," said McNamee, the reigning Manitoba Mixed champ. "And it will be nice to be going to that new (Dauphin) arena." ... Joelle Brown won her Scotties Tournament of Hearts city zone with a brand new team. "New is good and it's kind of a new outlook on things, too," said Brown, now supported by third Krista Chapman, second Ainsley Champagne and Kristie Moroz ... Clubmate Shauna Streich also has a new front end in second Allison Nimik and Tanya Enns (nee Robins), who played lead for McNamee at the national mixed ... La Salle's Chris Scalena will make a record 25th appearance at this year's Hearts.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: The junior Springfield squad qualified in all four cashspiels it entered this season, winning the grand prize of $800 in Petersfield.

Curtis Joyal's foursome also leads its leagues at both the Springfield and Fort Garry Curling Clubs. And after it qualified for the Target Junior Men's Provincial Championship through its rural zone for the second straight year, it earned the Sun's team of the week honours.

"It's been a really good year," said Joyal, who calls the game and throws third rocks. "We've just been working hard and playing well all year."

Braden Zawada, 18, who throws the last brick, also boasts a gold medal. Manitoba's Jim Coleman picked him up to play at the international Optimist 18 and Under Championships last spring and they won the whole thing.

Also supported by second Stephen Dash, 18, and Tyler Chliboyko, 19, Joyal finished fourth at last year's provincials with an impressive 5-2 record.

"We were really happy with that at our first provincials," said Joyal, 18. "Now, we're just going to try our hardest to out-curl the others in Rivers."

The foursome plans to tune up for the provincials at the Junior Christmas Bonspiel.


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