Times are a changing

CHAD SCARSBROOK -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

Some of the top men's curling teams in the world are in the city for the BDO Classic Canadian Open, which slides out of the hacks today beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the MTS Centre.

Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton won the event last year, which has a total purse of $100,000.

The winner takes home $30,000. Stoughton will try to make it two in a row and will be joined on the ice by fellow Manitoban Kerry Burtnyk as well as Alberta's Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin, Newfoundland's Brad Gushue, Quebec's J.M. Menard, Ontario's Glenn Howard, Norway's Pal Trulsen (who will reportedly retire after this event), Pete Fenson of the U.S. and nine others.

Stoughton said a repeat of last year's championship performance won't be easy.

'VERY DIFFICULT'

"It's going to be very difficult," he said yesterday. "You've got all the best teams in the world right there playing. Everyone from gold- medal winners like Gushue and Trulsen to world champions and Brier champions. Any time you're playing in a Grand Slam event with that field, it's tough to repeat. But we're looking forward to it and we want to repeat our success of last year."

When CBC replaced Rogers Sportsnet as the new Slam broadcasting partner, it was agreed that games would be reduced from 10 to eight ends.

"Hockey changed and now curling has to change," said Paul Boutilier, president of the World Curling Players' Association. "People want to see two hours and twenty minutes and that's it. It's (because of) the busy lifestyles of retired people, working people and young people.

"Three and a half hours just kills you."

Because the ends have changed, the timing of games has had to change. Players will now be timed on "thinking time" and not playing time -- teams can now throw the shot required for the situation and not have to change the shot due to time restraints. Squads will have 38 minutes and two one-minute timeouts per game.

Stoughton is all for the time change.

"I think it's a great new system," he said.

"It makes teams' decision-making more important ... It comes down to one team taking five minutes to decide if they're going to draw and another team takes two minutes to decide on that same draw. That should be the difference rather than the time it actually takes for the rock to go down the ice.

"It just makes sense."


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