Canada still rules curling

Canada's skip Jeff Stoughton carries the world trophy after defeating Scotland in the gold medal...

Canada's skip Jeff Stoughton carries the world trophy after defeating Scotland in the gold medal game at the World Men's Curling Championships in Regina, Sask. on April 10, 2011. (ANDY CLARK/Reuters)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:04 AM ET

REGINA — There were times when Jeff Stoughton wasn't sure he would be back standing where he was on Sunday night, cradling the world men's curling championship trophy in his arms.

Yet there he was, and there might not have been a happier person on Earth.

Stoughton and his Team Canada lineup of Jon Mead, Reid Carruthers and Steve Gould edged Scotland's Tom Brewster 6-5 in the gold-medal match.

"It can't get any better than this," Stoughton said. "This is just the best feeling I've had in a long time in my curling career."

The Winnipeg foursome's victory, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,854 spectators at a rocking Brandt Centre, gave Stoughton and Gould their second world crowns. They also beat Scotland way back in 1996.

"Two-time world champion sounds pretty awesome," the 47-year-old said a few moments after the gold medal was placed around his neck. "There's not a lot of guys who can say that. That says a lot for longevity in this game and willing to put in the sacrifices, because there's no doubt in the last three or four years it was getting hard to be third- or fourth- of fifth-best in the world and not getting an opportunity to get back to the worlds.

"You're competing but you're just not quite there, and these guys put us over the top this year."

It's the first world title for Mead, who celebrated his 44th birthday in style, and Carruthers, a 26-year-old in his first year with the team.

"Someone pinch me," Carruthers said as he took celebratory pictures with family and friends. "To get here and do this is just an unbelievable feeling."

Stoughton, who made up for his gold-medal loss to Scotland at the 1999 worlds, is just the ninth skip in Canadian history -- and 13th overall -- to win more than one world title, officially putting him among the greatest of all time.

"It just solidifies that he is absolutely one of the great curlers, a two-time world champion, a three-time Brier champion, a billion-time Manitoba champion," said Mead, who also lost the '99 world final.

Stoughton wasn't even favoured to get out of Manitoba this year, with Mike McEwen's Winnipeg foursome having a spectacular season on the cash spiel circuit. As a result, McEwen was the No. 1 seed over Stoughton for the Manitoba playdowns.

The wily old vet proved he still had it, however, going undefeated in Beausejour, Man., for his ninth provincial title and then losing just twice en route to his third Brier championship in London, Ont.

Stoughton curled a game-high 93% in Sunday's final, but his entire team was simply the class of the field in Regina, losing only a meaningless round-robin finale to Norway on Thursday night. Canada beat Brewster, who turned 37 on Sunday, three times.

Brewster blew his chance for the upset in the ninth end when he hit and rolled out on an easy out-turn takeout. Instead of sticking for two and making it a 6-6 game, he rolled out and settled for one.

Canada kept the 10th clean and Brewster was light with his final stone, sparking a wild celebration.

Scotland stole one in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead, but Canada overcame some early butterflies and capitalized on a few mistakes in the fifth to score three.

"We gave up a bad three. We played a terrible end," said Brewster, whose young squad of two 22-year-olds and a 21-year-old was appearing in its first world championship. "And then my rock ran straight in nine. We had a two there.

"They played a great last end. But let's be honest. Even if I got my two "¦"

The Stoughton team will fly back to Winnipeg on Monday. They are scheduled to arrive at 2:52 p.m.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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