Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton has won just about everything there is to win in curling -- two Canadian mixed titles, 10 Manitoba men's titles, three Briers, two world championships.
The lone exception, alas, just happens to also be the one he wants to win most -- the right to represent Canada in men's curling at the Winter Olympics. And time is running out, with the 50-year-old Stoughton agreeing this week that the upcoming Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings at MTS Centre, Dec. 1-8, is in all likelihood his last chance to become an Olympian.
"I'd say so, sure," Stoughton said this week. "I'm never going to say never. Another Russ Howard scenario could happen in four years where some young team wants to shake things up (like Brad Gushue did in adding Howard to his team in 2005). But I have no intention after this of putting together a team to make another run at the curling Trials."
Stoughton, of course, has been as close as you can get to the Olympics without actually getting there -- infamously losing the 2005 Trials final to Gushue and Howard. He's had lots of success on the ice since then, including a world title in 2011 and a Brier final appearance again last March.
But with time ticking, Stoughton's last opportunity at the Olympics could also be his best opportunity, coming as it does in his first ever arena appearance in Winnipeg at a Canadian Curling Association event. "I don't know how much of an advantage it will be to our team because you're right, if you get too fired up, you're not going to make your shots because you're not calmed down enough to draw the button.
"But what we are hoping is that the crowd will be a disadvantage to the other teams. We'll have this big crowd cheering our every shot and the other team makes an angle-raised double and you can hear the crickets chirping. That's what we want."