Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Raft of rural rinks like lambs to slaughter

Stoughton, Burtnyk want MCA to get rid of Baa-Baa-BAD teams

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SELKIRK -- They are, the results show over and over, year after year, mere lambs being led to slaughter -- Baa-Baa-BAD.

Brad Hyrich of Flin Flon, the No. 32 seed in the 32-team field at the 2009 Safeway Manitoba Men's Curling Championship this week, lost 9-1 to former world champion Kerry Burtnyk and then 15-6 to Brandon's William Lyburn.

Gone.

Shawn Magnusson, the No. 31 seed from Riverton, fell 9-1 to another former world champ, Jeff Stoughton, then lost 9-7 to Bob Sigurdson.

So long.

Thompson's Farrol Asham, at the big 3-0 on the seeds list? Bombed 7-2 by No. 3 seed Mike McEwen, then shown the door at Selkirk Recreation Centre after a 10-2 drubbing by No. 14 Kelly Skinner of Hamiota.

Ouch. This is not about rural teams only, because some teams inside the Perimeter took a licking too and were out after two straight losses. But it's about being able to compete. And in Manitoba, not all 32 teams that are here every year can.

Stoughton, who's been one of the most outspoken critics of the Manitoba Curling Association's format for provincial championships, was on about it again Friday after advancing to the playoffs.

"It's been very slow," he said. "You're sitting around doing nothing for three days practically and now they're going to make you curl. There's no momentum building. We played at 8:30 on Wednesday and 12:30 on Thursday and (8:30) this morning.

"Really, over the last 10 years, there hasn't been any difference in the first couple of games, playing these teams from across Manitoba. The top teams are mainly getting blowouts."

Burtnyk, who's played in more provincial championship games than anyone else, said he's been calling on the MCA for years to make changes and it's not just about trying to satisfy the elite teams.

"I just think the proper system would have less teams in it than the number that are here," he said after also qualifying, pointing out that few communities outside Winnipeg have enough hotel space to accommodate 32 curling teams.

"But you look at all the other provinces across the country and they all have half or less of the teams (than Manitoba's 32). It's something I've said over the years that I think there should be an adjustment to the system.

"I understand they're going to do that in the next couple of years. And I think that's a smart move on their part. It's just a simple fact of what's the best system to try to determine the champion."

chris.cariou@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 21, 2009 D3

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