Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stoughton still active but won't be chasing Oly berth

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He's got a new team and will continue to curl on the cashspiel circuit -- and remain a thorn in the side of Mike McEwen at the provincial playdowns -- for at least one more year.

But at age 50, Jeff Stoughton was emphatic when asked if he still has enough left to curl for one more four-year Olympic cycle and try to realize his Olympic dream at the 2018 Winter Games in Korea.

"No, I'm out," Stoughton said Wednesday as he confirmed last week's Free Press story that he will curl next winter with former teammate Rob Fowler at third and former William Lyburn players Alex Forrest and Connor Njegovan at second and lead, respectively.

"The only thing that could ever happen would be a Russ Howard thing, where some young team wants some old fart like me to come help them out. But other than that, I have no inclination to chase points and run around and try to get into the (2017) Trials."

'I was thinking about (retiring) pretty seriously. Absolutely. And it's still in the back of my head... But this is going to be good. It's a new beginning and a new team and it will be exciting for me'

-- Jeff Stoughton

The 'Russ Howard thing' is a reference to the time the former world champion skip was asked in 2005 at age 50 to join Brad Gushue's Newfoundland foursome, and the new team promptly ran the table and won Olympic gold in Torino.

Stoughton said he has committed to curl with his new team only for the next year, with a review to take place at the end of next season. The 11-time Manitoba champion, three-time Brier champion and two-time world champion revealed for the first time on Wednesday just how close he came to simply retiring in the last month since his team announced after the Brier they were splitting up and going their separate ways.

"I was thinking about (retiring) pretty seriously. Absolutely. And it's still in the back of my head," he said. "But we had a great meeting yesterday (with the new team) and I think that reaffirmed for me wanting to play.

"Because there's a lot going on. There's lots going on in family life and work and everything else in between. But this is going to be good. It's a new beginning and a new team and it will be exciting for me."

Stoughton said his team will aim to play in next season's five Grand Slam of Curling events -- the first of which, Stoughton revealed will take place at the Selkirk Recreation Complex, Oct. 28 to Nov. 2.

Stoughton said they will also target playing in February's Manitoba men's championship, where Stoughton would be seeking to make his collection of men's provincial titles an even dozen.

Stoughton was asked if a desire to continue to torment McEwen, who Stoughton has defeated in three Manitoba men's finals since 2010, most recently earlier this year, had anything to do with his decision to continue to curl.

Stoughton laughed. "No, it doesn't have anything to do with that," he said. "It's to make three other guys really happy -- and myself."

McEwen announced last week he is keeping his foursome together for next season despite having lost four of the last five provincial finals. The other McEwen loss in a final came in 2012 to Fowler. McEwen also lost a Manitoba semifinal to Stoughton in 2013.

Stoughton won three Manitoba men's titles with Fowler as his second -- in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Forrest and Njegovan, meanwhile, were the skip and second, respectively, of the 2010 Manitoba junior champions.

 

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 24, 2014 D5

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