Stoughton not completely sold

TERRY FARRELL, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

GRANDE PRAIRIE -- Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton did what he had to do in yesterday morning's 7-1 win against Dale Matchett.

Stoughton still has a lot left to do if he is to leave Grande Prairie with a direct berth into the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials.

"Hopefully, we don't worry too much about it and just play our own game and do what we can do for ourselves, and see where things fall at the end of the weekend," he said. "Our goal coming in here is to win this event. If we win the event, we'll see what happens after that."

Winning the event may not be enough for the fourth and final direct berth into Edmonton's Roar of the Rings - the Olympic trials tournament slated for December.

There are other factors involved in a bewildering formula which involves which teams win, which teams lose and how many games other teams win.

Confused?

You're not alone.

The Canadian Olympic qualifying format has come under fire from players and fans alike. Whereas other countries have already determined their Olympic teams, Canada is still half-a-year away from determining who will go to Whistler in February 2010. It's a three-year process that has not completely served the purpose for which most curlers understood it was designed, suggests Stoughton, who has two Brier titles and a world championship under his belt.

"It's a little off," said Stoughton. "I don't think we need to have guys play three years. And, as it turns out, there are a lot of, not so much fringe players, but a lot of guys who didn't put in the time and effort are still going to have a shot at going to the trials. I thought this process was going to eliminate that, but obviously it hasn't, because you take a look at some of the teams on the list. You could have put together a team in the last year, gone out and played a few spiels and probably got in, because a lot of it depends on this year's events."

Stoughton, whose rink includes lead Steve Gould, second Rob Fowler and third Kevin Park, also believes the entire scheduling of the system pushes too much into the final couple of months prior to the Olympics.

"I think, if they are going to have a pre-trials, it should be run now, like next weekend," he said. "Then it gives them time to prepare for the trials. It's pretty tough (as it's set up). You've got your pre-trials (Prince George, Nov. 10). Then you've got three weeks before trials and then you've got about six weeks to prepare for the Olympics. So it's pretty tight. But it's hard to fight off the results. We've always medaled, so I guess that's what they look at."


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