Error could haunt Stoughton's team

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:53 PM ET

REGINA — Like a scene in a bad horror flick, the Canadians didn’t make sure the Norwegians were dead.

And now Thomas Ulsrud and Co. could be the ones who come back and put a knife in their backs.

Canadian skip Jeff Stoughton was heavy on a draw to the four foot with his final stone in the 10th end of Thursday’s round-robin finale against the Norwegians, who stole a point to pick up the 7-6 win that got them into Friday’s fourth-place tiebreaker against France’s Thomas Dufour.

It was the first loss of the week for the Canucks, but they had already wrapped up first place so the outcome was meaningless — to them. If Stoughton had been on the money, Ulsrud would have been watching the rest of the event. Instead, Ulsrud won his sixth straight on Friday, 5-4 over the French in an extra end, and will meet Sweden’s Niklas Edin in Saturday’s 3-4 playoff game.

“If you asked me two or three days ago if I was going to play on Saturday I would’ve said no way,” said Ulsrud, who was 2-4 after six games.

Thursday’s round-robin finale was certainly the wackiest of the week, from Norway buying Team Canada coach Norm Gould a pizza before the contest to Stoughton’s nine-member entourage winning more than $18,000 in the 50-50 draw during the 10th end.

Norm Gould, who had the ticket, couldn’t contain his excitement and celebrated the win in the middle of the final end. Canadian third Jon Mead, who has been preaching focus all week long to make amends for his loss with Stoughton in the 1999 world final, said the team did not lose its concentration in the 10th.

“The focus was absolutely there,” he said. “No question about it. How we lost that game, I don’t even know. We had such control over a really good team and played pretty well. We didn’t do much wrong. Jeff just missed his last one.

“… Yeah, it was a bit of a clown show out there with everything that happened. But I thought we handled it really well.”

Mead felt the 50-50 celebration probably should have happened after the game, but he understood why it didn’t.

“I would say that if you could’ve talked to them about in advance, absolutely, because it also cost us a lot of drinks in the Patch after, with everybody thinking we won all that money,” Mead said. “But what do you do? People react. People are human. That’s a pretty tough one to stifle.”

TAKE THAT: The four members of Canada’s support crew — coach Norm Gould, fifth Garth Smith, and team leaders Rick Lang and Paul Webster — had some more fun during Thursday’s game against Norway.

They put cardboard cutouts of themselves at the table where they normally sit during games and then went into the crowd to eat popcorn for a while.

Mead said it was done for two reasons: First, it was a veiled shot at the World Curling Federation for putting the coaches way up on the concourse level.

“They might as well be cutouts sitting up there, because they don’t have much of a role with the way they’ve got the timeouts set up now,” Mead said. “They’re farther away from us than the people in the crowd.”

Secondly, they also thought it would be funny.

HISTORY REPEATED?

When Stoughton captured his only other world title in 1996, he won every game before losing his round-robin finale.

This time around, he figures the pundits would have criticized him no matter what happened against Norway.

“Everybody would be saying the other thing if we were undefeated. ‘Oh, should you have had a loss during the round-robin?’, like you (media) would’ve done. ‘Oh, when’s he going to be due (for a loss)?’ So now that we’ve lost it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s lost!’ So you can’t win,” Stoughton said before Friday’s 1-2 game. “To us it doesn’t really matter.”


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