Canada prepares for Ford World Men’s final

Jeff Stoughton was asked a simple question Saturday evening in advance of his third world men’s curling championship final. Any butterflies yet? “Not yet. Tomorrow. Maybe tonight. Maybe in the morning. Maybe at lunch,” grinned Stoughton playfully. “If anyone says they’re not (nervous), they’re lying. “I was nervous yesterday. Today, I haven’t thought about it . . . but as soon as (Saturday night’s semifinal between Norway and Scotland) is over, I’ll be up at six in the morning, tossing and turning, and putting the TV on for some distraction,” added Stoughton. “We’ll have a lunch (Sunday) and talk about how nervous we all are, and how great we all are, and how much we love each other,” he quipped. “ ‘Oh, you’re the best. No, you are.’

Jeff Stoughton of Team Canada(Photo: Michael Burns)

“But . . . absolutely. It’s what you want to be. You should be nervous for a (title) game, because that’s what it’s all about.” Stoughton’s crew from Winnipeg’s Charleswood Curling Club, which includes third Jon Mead, second Reid Carruthers, and lead Steve Gould, finished atop the round-robin standings with a 10-1 record at this 2011 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship at the Brandt Centre. The Canadians then disposed of Scotland (9-2) by a 5-2 count in Friday night’s Page Playoff 1-2 game, advancing directly to Sunday’s gold medal final at 5 p.m. CST/7:00 pm EDT, live on TSN, against either the Scots or Norwegians, who were duking it out Saturday night at the Brandt Centre. This represents Stoughton’s third crack at a global men’s curling title. He won the 1996 crown at Hamilton, Ont., with Gould at lead, dispatching Warwick Smith of Scotland 6-2 in the final after topping the round-robin standings at 8-1. Three years later, at Saint John, N.B. with a crew that featured Mead at third, Stoughton finished with the same round-robin record, but lost the final 6-5 to Scotland’s Hammy McMillan in 11 ends. With Saturday’s semifinal still being played out, Stoughton was asked about the possibility of playing Norway, which entered the semi with seven straight wins. Are Thomas Ulsrud’s Norwegians, the 2010 Olympic and world championship runners-up, a dangerous team to face? “No, I’d say we’re the dangerous team. We haven’t played in an international event in 12 years, so we’re the team that maybe wants it even more,” said Stoughton. “They’re used to this stuff. They get to go to world championships every year. They’re going to represent Norway again, probably, in three more years (at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics). “I think we’ve got more motivation to win this game than they do, because they’ve been there, done that, for the last four years,” he added. “I think because we don’t get the opportunity to get to these events so often, we’re the motivated team.” By pure coincidence, Stoughton has represented Canada all three times at the world championship on home soil. Regina has once again embraced its role as host of a major World Curling Federation and Canadian Curling Association event, with a cumulative attendance of 83,261 at the Brandt Centre heading into Saturday night’s semifinal. “The crowd support’s been so wonderful. It’s quite a feeling,” said Stoughton.