Two of Canadas top skips meet for chance at Olympic trials final

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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EDMONTON - With 68 years of curling experience between them, there likely won't be any surprises Saturday when Glenn Howard and Jeff Stoughton meet in the semifinal of the Canadian Olympic curling trials.
Howard, with 37 years of experience and Stoughton with 31, have five Brier championships and four world titles between them.
The fierce competitors have met countless times over the years and both are hungry for a chance to represent Canada at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Mirroring what happened at the 2009 Brier in Calgary, Howard and Stoughton will face each other in the semifinal for a chance to face Kevin Martin, who beat them both in the round robin to finish first and secure a berth in the gold medal game.
"They love the game. They like to put a lot of rocks in play and we don't have a problem with that so we know what we're getting and they know what they're going to get," said Stoughton just before practice Friday.
Stoughton, who lost the Olympic curling trials to Brad Gushue in Halifax four years ago, admits he has replayed the game in his mind "more times than you'd like" and still has the dream of representing Canada at the Olympics.
"We felt then that we were the team to beat just because of who was left - it wasn't Kevin Martin and Howard. This year it's different. We're sort of like the Brad Gushue team where we're not expected to win and I think we're a little more relaxed," Stoughton added.
But while the 46-year-old Winnipeg skip manages to practice 45 minutes a day during his lunch hour, he doesn't have nearly the amount of time like Howard and Martin, whom he says are basically full-time curlers.
"That's what it's going to be over the next four years is guys that can be full-time curlers. Then there will be the rest of us who can dream and hope that we fluke off a big win. Sort of like it happens once in a blue moon but it isn't going to happen as often," he added.
For Howard, an Olympic medal is the one thing he still dreams of having on his resume.
"I try and downplay it a little bit but the truth of the matter is it is by far probably the biggest game I will have played in four years. I've done the Canadian championship, the world championships but I haven't got the Olympics," Howard said.
"I want that experience. I want to represent Canada and see what we can do as a team and tomorrow and Sunday are my best chance. I don't know how much time is left for me and what I've got left in my legs."
Howard said he may not have another opportunity to follow in older brother Russ Howard's Olympic gold medal footsteps but he said the dream and passion are still there.
"I personally feel I'm playing the best I've ever played in the last four or five years. I'm just as fiery and determined as I was 20 years ago," he said.
Stoughton said you never lose the passion for the game. As for the last Olympic games, he couldn't watch it without thinking what might have been.
"You cheer for them in sort of a back assward way because you do want them to do poorly but you don't want them to. No doubt there was times I was thinking 'man, come on, it could have been us out there' and this is a chance to do it right now."

Organizations: Olympic Games

Geographic location: Canada, EDMONTON, Vancouver Calgary Halifax Winnipeg

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