WINNIPEG - Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton is hoping a gold-medal pedigree will rub off as he targets qualifying for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
Mark Nichols, who won Olympic gold at third for Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue in 2006, will replace Steve Gould at lead, Stoughton confirmed Monday.
“It is cool that he’s been there and won,” Stoughton said. “It was one of those things where we were looking for a guy who we felt could play that position. His name came up because he’s been off for a year and we wouldn’t be disrupting any other men’s teams.”
Nichols, 32, and his wife, Colette, will move to Winnipeg, so Stoughton’s new foursome will be eligible to win another Manitoba title. It turns out that Stoughton had just been waiting for Nichols to commit to moving here after he had played lead for him at the Players’ Championship in Summerside, P.E.I.
“After taking last year off, he found out that he still had a desire to play,” said Stoughton, also supported by third Jon Mead and second Reid Carruthers. “It’s always fun to have someone new and he’s a young guy with the same goals we have, and he fits in very well.”
The last time he added a new player (Carruthers), Stoughton won both the 2011 Brier and world championship. But he parted ways with Gould after failing to defend his Manitoba title this year.
Stoughton, meanwhile, was not concerned that Nichols will be dropping from third to play lead.
“He played lead for (Randy) Ferbey (when he skipped Gushue’s team) and he always swept when Brad was throwing skip’s rocks,” he said.
Nichols, who is known as a strong sweeper, threw third rocks but swept for Gushue at the 2006 Olympics where Russ Howard held the broom and threw second stones.
Ironically, Nichols was a member of the team that beat Stoughton in the 2005 Olympic trials final.
Colette Nichols (nee Lemon), who was born in Saskatchewan, was also a competitive curler who played for Mark’s sister, Shelley.