Gushue slams new format

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

We're not totally certain, but something tells us reigning Olympic men's curling champ Brad Gushue is none too pleased that Grand Slam events are now eight ends instead of 10.

"I absolutely hate it," the Newfoundlander said last night after falling 6-5 to Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton in the opening draw of the BDO Classic Canadian Open at MTS Centre. "It's probably the worst move you could ever make for curling. You get down like we did in the first three ends, down 4-0, and the game is half over. There's no time to come back.

"What you're going to see more of is a lot of blowouts, a lot of very quick games, because all of a sudden halfway through the game is only four ends.

"... In a 10-end game, at least you're out there for six or seven ends, and they can get half their money's worth anyways."

Gushue knows exactly what he's talking about, because he was down 4-0 after three ends last night -- although it was his fault.

"I had draw weight in my back pocket, but I couldn't make a out-turn peel, which is strange," Gushue said. "That's like saying Russ Howard didn't have his draw weight. That's my bread and butter, and not to have it that game was just weird.

"I had it all week, I had it practising this morning, I had it yesterday, and then for some reason I threw three of the worst shots I've thrown all year in that game."

The match, played in front of approximately 3,000 spectators, was their first meeting since Gushue edged Stoughton in the Olympic trials final in December 2005. However, a 14-month break seems to have taken the edge off of any rivalry.

"We've seen them at various events and talked to them and joked about a few things and talked about sponsors and other stuff like that," Stoughton said. "It's a rivalry that we hope to continue for quite a few more years.

"The front end gets along with each other, I talk to Brad a little bit here and there, but after that we both want to beat each other."

Gushue said a rivalry exists, especially since Stoughton said Gushue had no chance of winning the Trials, but it's changed in the last 14 months.

"Jeff's team is completely different, and our team is different every week," Gushue said. "It's really hard to have that rivalry. If it was the same team, sure, both teams would have been up for it a little bit more."

Other opening draw winners were Alberta's Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey, defending Brier champ Jean-Michel Menard of Quebec and Sweden's Nils Carlsen, who stole six consecutive points to dump Quebec's Pierre Charette 7-4.

Action continues today at MTS Centre.


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