World championship in Winnipegger's sights

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:07 PM ET

REGINA -- Over the past decade or so, whenever he dug out his broom and shoes each September, Steve Gould wasn't always thinking about winning a world men's curling championship.

Considering the 38-year-old lead has won six Manitoba titles, three Briers and one world crown, you'd think that would be the case every year, but it's not.

"It's funny," Gould said before Canada took on Scotland's Tom Brewster in the 1-2 Page playoff game on Friday night at Brandt Centre. "Our goals have always been a little bit different. And this year our goal was actually to win a world championship. It's just weird. Other times you get prepared for the (Olympic) trials, to win the trials.

"After the trials run in '05 (they finished second), we went to the Brier in '06 and it was just kind of smoke and mirrors. And we did very little the next season. We had new teammates, Ryan Fry and Rob Fowler, and we ended up making the Brier. And that was our goal, just to make it to the Brier."

These days curling is all about cycles, since representing Canada at the Olympics is the biggest carrot of all. Considering his skip, Jeff Stoughton, will be 50 years old when the next Olympics are held, there was a chance Gould wasn't even going to be playing this year.

"I've thought about quitting a number of times," said Gould, who owns Gould & Sons Roofing in Winnipeg. "It's also based upon what kind of teammates you're going to have, too. If we didn't get Jon (Mead) back this year I think Jeff and I both would've packed it in."

Mead returned to the fold after four years away from the squad, and the results have been stellar. They went undefeated in Manitoba, suffered only two losses at the Brier and were 10-1 during the round-robin this week in the Saskatchewan capital.

Going into Friday night, Gould and Stoughton were two wins from becoming the 27th and 28th Canadian curlers to win more than one world men's title. If they can pull it off, Gould will be a big reason why. He was a sparkling 92% in the round-robin, including 100% against Scotland in a battle of unbeaten teams and 99% in Thursday's round-robin finale loss to Norway.

Despite those gaudy numbers, Gould, who is famous for his ability to tick guards, wasn't sure this has been his best big event. He said his performances at the 1996 world championship, which they won, and the 2005 Canadian Curling Trials were just as good, if not better.

His teammates have performed as well as he has this week, which is how Gould always wants it now. He's at the stage in his career where the squad has to be good enough to win it all. The days of experimenting are over. He knows what he wants.

"If I'm not going to try to win the province, go to the Brier and do those sort of things, then I'm not going to play at a high level," said Gould, who left Stoughton's team in 1998 but returned in 2003. "I'm not interested in playing with young guys. I'm just at a stage in my life where if I'm going to play, I want to play at a high level. And if not, I'd rather watch my kids play hockey."

As long as this year's team, which includes second Reid Carruthers, sticks together, Gould is good to go.

"I'm committed to play next year. I know Reid is," Gould said. "It's basically up to Jeff and Jon. As far as three years from now, I don't really know. I don't know where we're going to go."


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