December 8, 2019

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Curling champ Stoughton works to put others on podium

Jeff Stoughton has a list of on-ice accomplishments most curlers could only dream of attaining. His 11 Manitoba men’s championships, three Brier championships and two world titles make him Manitoba’s most decorated men’s curler.

When the former skip looks back on his career, it doesn’t take him long to decide which feat means the most to him — capturing gold at the 2011 world curling championship in Regina.

"There’s no doubt that was a big moment," Stoughton said. "(My) kids were older so they understood what was going on. We had a really good moment after the event. The five of us, my family, we were in the locker room and I thanked them for everything we’ve done because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do this."

The mammoth victory came 15 years after his first world championship crown in 1996. Stoughton said after winning his first world title and then losing the final three years later, he thought his team had what it took to consistently represent Canada on the world stage.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files</p><p>Jeff Stoughton is working with Olympic curlers John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes.</p></p>


Jeff Stoughton is working with Olympic curlers John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes.

"To have such a gap (between world championships), I dont know, it shows my stubbornness, maybe, that I didn’t want to give up," said Stoughton, who won the 2011 title with Jon Mead, Reid Carruthers and Steve Gould. "You have so many losses and close calls and tries at getting the right team together. It made (2011) pretty special, for sure."

Despite being nearly 15 years removed from his first world title, Stoughton had sky-high expectations for his team heading into the 2010-11 season. Stoughton brought in Carruthers, who was a couple years removed from skipping his own team to a Brier appearance. In the summer of 2010, Stoughton and his teammates had dinner with a couple of their sponsors and they made it known they had big plans for the upcoming season.

"We told our sponsors that we were going to win the world championship this year. Reid’s looking at us and saying ‘What? You can’t say that!’ and I said, ‘Well Reid, this is a different team than you’re used to. Our expectations are pretty high,’" Stoughton said.

Stoughton and his crew looked like a team on a mission to fulfil their promise at the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier in London, Ont.

They cruised through the round robin with a 9-2 record, including an impressive 5-1 win over Alberta rival Kevin Martin. Marc Kennedy, the second for Martin, recently shared a story with Stoughton about what happened after that game.

Kennedy said that after the tough loss, Martin told his teammates that it truly was Stoughton’s year.

"Kevin Martin came into the locker room and said, ‘Well boys, there’s your Brier champions,’ referring to our team because we weren’t going to be stopped. That’s pretty cool," said Stoughton, who made his first Brier appearance in 1991.

Stoughton capped the Brier with an 8-6 win over Glenn Howard in the final, then proceeded to the world championship in Regina, where the team beat Scotland’s Tom Brewster 6-5 to win gold.

Although Stoughton no longer is chasing Briers and world championships for himself, you can still find him at most of the major curling events. After retiring in 2015, he started working for Curling Canada as the program manager for mixed doubles. He will be heading to Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month for the Winter Olympics to help mentor Canada’s John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes to the podium — the one accomplishment that eluded him in his playing career.

"I think that’s what made me not miss (playing) is that I was still involved and still able to be one of the guys at the arena, other than competing. I think I’d miss it a lot more if I quit cold turkey and did nothing involving curling," said Stoughton, who estimates he has curled fewer than 20 times since retiring two years ago.

Stoughton is loving his position with Curling Canada and would like to stay on for at least another four or five years. He’d like to help the next generation of curlers compile a list of accomplishments as long as his.

"Help champions become world champions or Olympic champions — that’s what I’d like to do," he said.

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.

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Updated on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 8:27 AM CST: Photo added, placement fixed.

4:55 PM: Adds audio.

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