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Re-energized Carruthers quartet red-hot at Viterra

TREVOR HAGAN / FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Reid Carruthers said the double dose of disappointment was a sledgehammer to his psyche.</p></p>

TREVOR HAGAN / FREE PRESS FILES

Reid Carruthers said the double dose of disappointment was a sledgehammer to his psyche.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/2/2018 (256 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WINKLER — Reid Carruthers allowed for some time to feel sorry for himself after a couple of profound setbacks earlier in the season.

Not unlike several Manitoba curlers, Carruthers had two chances to earn a spot among Canada’s Olympic athletes heading to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea this month.

And for he and all but one of those local curlers, the opportunities were lost.

Carruthers and his West St. Paul men’s team of third Braeden Mowskowy, second Derek Samagalski and lead Colin Hodgson, failed to make the playoffs at the Olympic trials in Ottawa in December, and then he and playing partner Jill Officer missed the final four of the mixed doubles Olympic trials in early January in Portage la Prairie.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/2/2018 (256 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WINKLER — Reid Carruthers allowed for some time to feel sorry for himself after a couple of profound setbacks earlier in the season.

Not unlike several Manitoba curlers, Carruthers had two chances to earn a spot among Canada’s Olympic athletes heading to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea this month.

And for he and all but one of those local curlers, the opportunities were lost.

Carruthers and his West St. Paul men’s team of third Braeden Mowskowy, second Derek Samagalski and lead Colin Hodgson, failed to make the playoffs at the Olympic trials in Ottawa in December, and then he and playing partner Jill Officer missed the final four of the mixed doubles Olympic trials in early January in Portage la Prairie.

He said the double dose of disappointment was a sledgehammer to his psyche.

"It’s been really tough, to be totally honest," Carruthers said Friday afternoon. "The last time (2013) when I’d been in the Olympic trials with Jeff (Stoughton) I didn’t have that Olympic letdown. It was my first time and I really didn’t know what I was getting into at that point. Going into Ottawa we had high hopes, and not only that going but into Portage as well for the mixed doubles trial as well.

"I can’t say it was Olympic depression because it wasn’t a depression, but I definitely was moping around after those losses. It’s tough to work for four years and have that taken away from you. That’s the beauty of playing in Canada — there’s never any easy bargains in any of the tournaments you play in."

The only Manitoban curling in close proximity to the glowing Olympic cauldron will be Winnipegger Kaitlyn Lawes and her partner, Winnipeg-born John Morris, in mixed doubles.

Carruthers, the No. 2 seed at the Manitoba men’s championship this week in Winkler, admits he’s emerged from the funk he was in.

"There’s no rest for the wicked. We went straight out to Phoenix for a bonspiel, (but) didn’t do well out there, (then) to Camrose (Alta.) and made the quarters. These last eight days leading up to this event have been about recharging the batteries, because, with a lot of the teams that have been touring a lot, there’s a bit of a burnout effect.

"For us, it’s been getting back to why we love curling and that’s because we enjoy competing, we love the camaraderie. (There has been) lots of work with the sports psychologist to get pumped up to be here."

The Carruthers quartet, one of the top-ranked teams on the World Curling Tour, travelled to the national capital with high hopes, but posted an undistinguished 4-4 round-robin record to finish outside of the playoff line.

Kevin Koe of Calgary will don the Maple Leaf in Pyeongchang, while Rachel Homan’s Ottawa crew competes on the women’s side.

Carruthers and Joanne Courtney, second on the Homan team, had won the 2017 Canadian mixed doubles crown in April and then finished second at the worlds in Lethbridge, Alta., less than a month later. But with Homan’s victory in Ottawa, Carruthers was down a partner.

Jill Officer, longtime second for Jennifer Jones and one of curling’s all-time great front-end players, stepped in and the pair had instant chemistry. But the field at Stride Place in Portage was ridiculously strong.

"I had a great partner in Jill. It was a great experience to curl with her and, hopefully, I get a chance to do that again because I know both her and I had a lot of fun, even though we didn’t win," said Carruthers, noting he’ll likely keep odd hours as he watches the Olympic action — from the other side of the world — on television.

"I might even wear the Canada shirt just to cheer on the teams. I’m good friends with all the teams that have won and, obviously, I want them to win, bring back the gold for Canada," he said.

"It’s always good for Canada and we’ll cheer for all the athletes, not just the curlers."

For now, the four-time Manitoba men’s champion said his sole focus is on reclaiming the crown that’s eluded him since his current foursome downed Mike McEwen in the 2015 final in Brandon.

"Very pleased, we’ve been a little businesslike," he said, after rattling off three straight triumphs to qualify for the eight-team Viterra playoffs. "The guys are throwing the rock really well in front of me... everything’s going well from our camp."

jason.bell@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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History

Updated on Saturday, February 3, 2018 at 10:30 AM CST: Photo, box added.

2:20 PM: Headline changed.

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