No need to skip out on berth

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

In the past two seasons, Jason Gunnlaugson has parted ways with two different skips.

Yet, the promising young Manitoban still managed to qualify for the Canadian Curling Trials qualifying tournament to be held in Prince George, B.C., this November, the CCA confirmed yesterday.

Although the last qualifying team for the tourney is listed under Daley Peters, who left the team, Gunnlaugson, Justin Richter and Tyler Forrest will get the berth because the three of them were there when all of the necessary CTRS points were earned over the past three seasons. That includes the two previous years when Reid Carruthers skipped the squad.

Gunnlaugson has yet to replace Peters.

"We're still at the stage of, 'Wow, I can't believe we actually made it in,' " Gunnlaugson admitted. "That's definitely been our goal since we lost the provincial final (to Jeff Stoughton) with Reid a couple of years ago (2006)."

Peters remains a possibility to return to the team after leaving to hook up with his dad, Vic. In fact, Gunnlaugson has not even ruled out recruiting Vic Peters to take the helm.

"We want to get the best player available to give us the best shot possible," said Gunnlaugson, adding that could include adding a curler from outside of Manitoba. "Just like (Newfoundland's) Brad (Gushue) did with (New Brunswick's) Russ (Howard). But we're not really thinking that way right now."

Stoughton, Kerry Burtnyk and Mike McEwen have also qualified out of Manitoba for the 12-team tourney. So has Gushue and a number of Grand Slam squads.

"I really can't say we'll be intimidated at all because there won't be too many expectations on us," said Gunnlaugson, who has also competed at Grand Slams and other World Curling Tour events.

In fact, Gunnlaugson is allowing himself to dream about becoming one of the last four qualifiers for the Olympic trials in Edmonton -- and actually winning the whole thing to represent Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"Our chances are extremely small," he said. "But they are more than zero. We definitely have a chance and we can do it. You know, somebody said Gushue had 'no chance', last time and look what happened. I just hope someone says we have 'no chance,' and we get a medal."

Gunnlaugson must confirm his full team by June 1.

BITER: The inaugural Dominion Curling Club city championships started at the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club yesterday. Two men's and two women's teams will advance to the first Dominion provincial championship to be played at the same club this weekend.


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