Home ice rocks for Stoughton

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:04 PM ET

Jeff Stoughton’s trip to the world men’s curling championship is about 1,000 kilometres shorter than the one he made to last month’s Brier in London, Ont.

In fact, all three of the Winnipeg skip’s “worlds” have taken place in Canada. This time, however, he’s never been closer to home.

Stoughton’s foursome will be the home team in a place where Manitoba teams are rarely welcomed warmly: Regina. There is no greater CFL rivalry than the Blue Bombers and Roughriders, but any hard feelings between the provinces are sure to be set aside this week and next in the Saskatchewan capital.

In addition to the piles of people who will make the five-hour drive on the Trans-Canada Highway, the fine folks of Saskatchewan are sure to be rooting for Team Stoughton as they battle squads from 11 other countries for world curling supremacy.

“We sure hope so,” Stoughton said earlier this week. “They’re selling tickets fast and furious, and I think that’s just because the event’s getting closer, but we also hope that it’s going to be a lot of people coming from Winnipeg and Brandon and rural areas west of Winnipeg because it isn’t that far.

“Regina hosting Team Canada, we’re going to be the home team and it’s going to be wonderful. Just having more family and friends out there is a bonus. We expect the crowd to be 100% behind us.”

Stoughton and lead Steve Gould will be going after their second world championships in Regina, while third Jon Mead and second Reid Carruthers are both chasing their first.

Stoughton and Gould won the 1996 world title together in Hamilton, thumping Scotland’s Warwick Smith 6-2 in the final. Stoughton made it back to the worlds again in 1999, this time with Mead at third but without Gould, but lost 6-5 in an extra end to Scotland’s Hammy McMillan in the gold-medal match.

Stoughton’s overall record at the worlds is 19-3, and even though it’s been 12 years since his last appearance he’ll know how to act when he gets there.

“For Jon and I and Steve we’ve been through it before and we know what the pressures are with family and friends grabbing you and pulling you and media wanting you every minute,” Stoughton said.

“We can handle that, and that’s what we have to relay to Reid, is just don’t get caught up. You are allowed to say no.”

The 12-team field also includes 2010 Olympic silver medallist Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, Germany’s Andy Kapp, who is making his record 13th worlds appearance and lost the final in 2007, and Sweden’s Niklas Edin, who finished fourth at last year’s Olympics in Vancouver.

“You just have to play really well,” Stoughton said. “There’s no magic out on the ice. It’s play your best or you’re not going to get that gold medal. So that’s the easy part: Go out there and perform.

“It’s really the other things that can maybe disrupt that performance, not getting enough rest and being pulled every which way and it maybe bothering you a little bit more than it should.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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