Missed shot haunts Mead

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

The closer he gets to the Canadian Curling Trials, the more vivid the memory of the last one becomes.

Now playing third for Ontario's Wayne Middaugh, Winnipeg's Jon Mead will attempt to qualify for the Olympic trials at the Road to the Rings event that starts in Prince George, B.C. next week.

Mead played third for Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton at the 2005 trials, losing a heart-breaking final to Newfoundland's Brad Gushue, who would go on to win Olympic gold.

"I try not to think about the last one but it has brought back memories," Mead said yesterday. "I can't help but think about how close we were and there was one line call that I would like to have back."

That came in the 10th end when Mead needed to call his brushers off a Stoughton hit that rolled a millimetre too far and just out of the rings. Had it stayed in the rings, Stoughton may have pulled off the victory.

"I don't blame myself," Mead said. "I could have blamed myself if I had not given it my best effort. But I missed it by absolutely nothing ... But that's part of sport and if you can't accept it, you shouldn't be playing."

But Mead also recalls the emotions experienced before the biggest game he has ever played on pebble.

"You're getting ready for that pressure-cooker and all that nausea before the game," said Mead, who still often practises with Stoughton. "I said to Jeff the other day, 'Do we really want to subject ourselves to that anguish again if we get to the final a second time?' And I guess there is a possibility that we could both get there."

Stoughton will also be competing at the trials qualifier in B.C.

Mead also wonders about what might have been.

"I think about how much fun it would have been for my kids to have had a dad who had competed at the Olympics," said Mead, whose wife recently gave birth to their second daughter, Charlotte.

After that season, Mead decided to cut back on his curling so he left Stoughton and hooked up with Middaugh.

"It's been a good fit for me," Mead said. "It's been a great schedule and not a whole lot of downside ... We want to win and feel we can compete with anybody when we're on top of our game. The difficulty for us is that we won't find the top of our game as often because we don't play as much."

Yet, Middaugh is still seeded No. 2 for the pre-trials, one back of Stoughton.

"Up until our last game of the year (at the Players' Championship), we were the fourth team in the trials," Mead said. "But we (crapped) the bed."

That allowed Alberta's Randy Ferbey to snatch that last direct berth into the trials in Edmonton next month.

"This could be my last kick at the trials -- unless we make the Olympics or some other things happen," said Mead, 42. "It's getting harder and harder every year. It takes a lot out of your work and your family. And I look at the young guys coming up and they throw it so much harder and take it so much more seriously."

BITERS: Two of those youngsters are Manitoba's Mike McEwen and Jason Gunnlaugson, who will also be competing at the trials qualifier, along with veteran Kerry Burtnyk ... McEwen just earned $7,000 and Gunnlaugson, $5,000 at a World Curling Tour cashspiel in Brooks, Alta. Both Burtnyk and Stoughton failed to qualify ... Manitoba's Joelle Brown, who has formed a new team with Tracey Lavery at third, won $2,500 at a cashspiel in Saskatoon, eliminating reigning Canadian champion Jennifer Jones in a C qualifier ... With his new senior squad, Granite's Vic Peters won $2,800 at the Lloyd Gunnlaugson Memorial Senior Bonspiel at the Thistle Curling Club. Brandon's Joyce McDougall earned $1,100 for winning the women's side.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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