by Jill Officer
REGINA – Everyone prepares differently for curling games, especially big ones like the world championship final. But Team Canada and Team Scotland had no problem signing autographs for fans along the boards prior to the pre-game practice. Great to see this.
Also before the practice session, the wife of Scottish skip Tom Brewster wife showed up with balloons and a birthday present for Tom: a Saskatchewan Roughriders football jersey! And wouldn’t you know it... as it turns out, it’s also Canadian third Jon Mead’s birthday, too!
Clearly it was going to be a great birthday for one of these guys tonight... and a disappointing one for the other. Brewster turned 37, while Mead turned 44. Just before the game, a portion of the crowd started singing Happy Birthday, but I couldn’t quite make out whether it was sung to Jon or Tom. Likely Jon, but maybe both!
Remember Green Day earlier in the week? Well, the green Team Canada jackets that were donned by Jeff Stoughton’s team on Tuesday were signed by the boys and auctioned off in the patch after the bronze medal game. The total money raised was $16,050 and it all went to the Sandra Schmirler Foundation – awesome! Below is how much each jacket went for…
Jeff Stoughton – $7,000
Jon Mead – $3,000
Reid Carruthers – $2,100
Steve Gould – $2,000
Garth Smith – $950
Norm Gould – $1,000
Aside from the few green jackets in the crowd, it was mostly red and white today. The most, actually, that we’ve seen all week for a single draw. And these red and white fans were very excited and enthusiastic. They were also a very appreciative crowd, cheering for other teams that walked around the arena... including Team Sweden, who defeated Norway for the bronze medal earlier today.
I’m not going to lie… I didn’t have the greatest feeling during the first few ends of the gold medal game, as Scotland came out firing and the Canadians weren’t quite as sharp. As they did in the semifinal, the Scots jumped right into an aggressive tactical game and, well, Canada didn’t look as loose as they have all week for the first half.
Skipper Stoughton was still looking to score a deuce in the very first end, even as the Scots lay four stones in the rings. Jon and Jeff finally got something going, and lay two on Brewster’s final shot, but he made a spectacular double amid the mess of granite and, suddenly, Stoughton’s second shot was a draw against five. Gulp!
The Scots then took a deuce, and then stole to lead 3-1. They were making absolutely everything, and the 21- and 22-year-olds in front of Brewster looked like veterans.
But finally, in the fifth end, Canada strung some good shots together and scored a triple. It was noticeable to me that they then settled down. They started smiling more, and joking around. Stoughton even pulled his trademark spin-o-rama on a blank in the seventh end after the crowd loudly cheered for him on to do so.
In the end, it was some critical misses that seemed to unglue the Scots. A stunned Stoughton didn’t even have to throw his last one... Canada were champions again! and Jon Mead had won his first world title in three attempts... after losing to Scotland in both 1996 and also in 1987 (the world juniors!).
Congrats to the Canadians, one and all. Two global titles for Jeff and Steve, and what an amazing "rookie" Brier and worlds year for Reid!
As for Mr. Mead, what can I say? After quitting the sport after stunning Olympic Trials disappointment in 2006, he returned to play for a few years with Ontario’s Wayne Middaugh, then he rejoined Stoughton for this one-year experiment, and now the sky is the limit. He was the most passionate and pumped-up of the Canucks all week, and no wonder – he was moved to tears after the game, as he had competed this week in memory of his mother, who died two years ago... and he had just thrown a monkey off his back by winning his first global title in three attempts, after losing the 1996 world final and also the 1987 world junior final – both to Scotland!
Congrats also to the brave Scots, and the Swedes and Norwegians, who put on such a great show all week. Congrats to Pantsmeister Thomas Ulsrud, who won the coveted Colin Campbell Award for sportsmanship, as voted on by his fellow players... the second straight Norwegian to win it, after his third Torger Nergard won it last year in Cortina (as skip).
Heck, congrats to all the competitors!
Thanks for reading folks, and now I must run to do a final standup for Global TV Regina! Make sure you tune in to this here blog, and the Twitter account and of course CBC-TV next weekend (and here for online pay-per-view outside of Canada) for the season-ending Players’ Championship from Grande Prairie, Alberta! It all starts Tuesday night... and I'll be out on the ice this time, without a computer or camera in sight!
Photos by Anil Mungal and Jill Officer copyright The Curling News® – click on images to increase size