Talk about excellent timing.
West St. Paul's Reid Carruthers led the Manitoba Curling Tour standings most of the season without winning a single event -- until yesterday.
Carruthers nipped Brandon's Allan Lyburn 6-5 in the men's final at the Wheat City Curling Club to win $6,000 and capture a berth for the Safeway Championship in Steinbach, Feb. 10-14.
"It was almost like a curse but it feels awesome to finally win one," Carruthers said from Brandon. "The ultimate goal was to get the spot into the provincials, then win it. The money is just icing on the cake.
"Now, we can take time off and relax with our friends and family, and enjoy Christmas."
Carruthers will spend the Christmas holiday with family in Mexico, where he will also celebrate his 25th birthday.
Supported by former Canadian junior men's champion Chris Galbraith at third, second Derek Samagalski and Shane Kilgallen, Carruthers also beat Beausejour's Jason Gunnlaugson 6-1 in a quarterfinal. It was their first win this season against his former teammate.
"He's had our number the whole year but this was probably the biggest game we played against him," said Carruthers, who defeated West Kildonan's Brendan Taylor 5-2 in a semifinal. "And my guys made it easy for me. They played awesome."
The last time the provincials were played in Steinbach, Carruthers lost the final to Charleswood's Jeff Stoughton. Gunnlaugson was playing third for him at the time.
'Why not the women?'
Lyburn, who downed Deer Lodge's Sean Grassie 6-1 in the other semi, got $3,000.
In the women's final, Kerri Flett of Fort Rouge stole one in the eighth end to beat clubmate Joelle Brown 5-4, then wondered why the women's winner does not get a provincial spot.
"I definitely think there should be a berth with this," Flett said from Brandon. "The men get one, so why not the women? It doesn't make any sense, especially when you have rural teams getting berths uncontested. I thought they'd (Curl Manitoba) taken that out of the books, but I guess not."
Flett failed to earn a city zone spot, losing an A-B final to clubmate Linda Stewart, but still skips one of the better teams in Manitoba.
"This (MCT belt) definitely doesn't make up for losing zones but it does put a smile back on my face," Flett said.
So does the $4,000 her foursome earned.
"I got a nice little Christmas bonus," said Flett, who will enter next month's women's bonspiel, which will offer a trip to next year's provincials.
Brown, who has a provincial spot, pocketed $2,000.