PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. – Prairie Classic curling opened with a bang this morning, as Manitoban Jeff Stoughton and his rink fell to Russia’s Team Evgeny Arkhipov in a 5-4 morning upset.
Stoughton, a former world curling champion, was favoured to win the match, which kicked off the four-day Prairie Classic at the Portage Curling Club. After the loss, Stoughton will move on to a Section B draw at 5 p.m. today against Saskatchewan’s Jeff Hartung, who lost a 6-5 morning match to Minnesota’s John Shuster.
The other morning draws on day one played out more predictably. The defending world champion, Sweden’s Niklas Edin, eked out a 5-4 win over Winnipeg skip Steen Sigurdson and his rink, while Toronto skip Mark Kean and his crew beat the other Russian entry, Team Andrey Drozdov, 7-3.
Meanwhile, Stoughton wasn’t the only Manitoban team to slip in the morning matches. Reigning Prairie Classic champion, Alberta skip Kevin Koe and his team dispatched Winnipeg's Jack McDonald 6-4. Also in the morning, Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock hammered Gladstone’s Geoff Trimble 8-1, and Brad Gushue won 5-2 against Winnipeg’s Richard Daneault.
In fact, only one Manitoban team in the morning matches did come out victorious, as Brandon skip Rob Fowler and his rink beat Norway’s Markus Hoiberg 3-2.
The Canad Inns Prairie Classic continues through until Monday, with 32 teams vying for a $60,000 purse in a triple-knockout format at the Portage Curling Club.