REGINA — Jeff Stoughton could join an elite group at this year’s world men’s curling championship.
The Winnipeg curler has a chance to become just the 13th man to skip a team to more than one world title. The 47-year-old won in 1996, and he is the odds-on favourite to capture his second when the final is held April 10 at Brandt Centre.
“That’s kind of cool,” Stoughton said. “Obviously as a curler your dream is to win a world championship and an Olympic gold medal now. To get two world championships would be phenomenal. And it’s also because of our disappointment in ’99, not winning it in ’99.”
Stoughton, along with Jon Mead, Reid Carruthers and Steve Gould, open the event on Saturday with a pair of games, first taking on Switzerland’s Christof Schwaller and then battling Denmark’s Tommy Stjerne.
Stoughton had a glorious opportunity to win title No. 2 in 1999, but he lost the final in an extra end to Scotland’s Hammy McMillan in Saint John, N.B. It’s haunted him ever since.
“We want to show that we should’ve won and we deserved to win,” Stoughton said. “So it’s been a long time coming, and we don’t want to wait another 12 years to think about doing it in the senior championships.”
The consensus is there are maybe two or three serious contenders who could derail Stoughton’s plans of world domination over the next 10 days. Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud, whose team wears the wacky pants, is the reigning Olympic silver medallist, while Sweden’s Niklas Edin placed fourth in Vancouver.
There are more.
“I know the Scottish team, (Tom) Brewster’s team, they’re going to be good,” Stoughton said. “The Swiss team we know, and of course Pete Fenson from the U.S. is always a good team.
“And I should say (Germany’s) Andy Kapp, of course. The guy’s won the most games in the world championships. He’s sort of the dark horse that everyone seems to forget.”
Both Stoughton and Mead admit Canada is the favourite to win its 33rd crown in the event’s 52-year history, but they don’t seem too excited about that.
“On paper, yeah,” Mead said, “but that’s about all that’s worth.”
The odd part is Ulsrud, the man expected to have to best chance to knock off Stoughton, has never beaten him in his career, going 0-2. Ulsrud told the Regina Leader-Post last week he was happy reigning Olympic gold medallist Kevin Martin wasn’t here, but he still has much respect for Stoughton.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy playing Jeff, but it’s fun playing another team than Kevin (Martin). That’s what I meant,” Ulsrud said. “Don’t get me wrong, Team Stoughton is a really strong team. I was watching them on the web playing the Brier, and they played really strongly the whole week.”
For Stoughton, the mission is simple.
“We’d be very disappointed,” he said, “if we didn’t come out of here with a gold medal.”