"I've made a huge mistake." Peter Steski contemplates what he got himself into subbing on Team Carruthers at the 2014 National in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Anil Mungal)

Flashback: Steski spares with Carruthers at 2014 National

December 8, 2017, 11:51 AM

[Note: This article was originally published in December 2016. A modified version has been included here for Flashback Friday.]

Now, this is a story all about how Reid Carruthers’s life got flipped-turned upside down.

Alright not really, but it is an interesting tale of how Peter Steski made a dramatic comeback to the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling as a super spare and helped a new squad start out 2-0 in its first event in the series together.

After four seasons manning the front end for legendary curler Jeff Stoughton, Carruthers was ready to return to skipping his own club again for the next Olympic cycle. The Winnipeg native formed a new team in 2014 with third Braeden Moskowy, second Derek Samagalski and lead Colin Hodgson.

The team qualified for the National in November 2014, however, it wouldn’t be until later in the week when all four played together in the series as Moskowy missed his flight into the Soo.

Carruthers: “Braeden is one of the guys that’s missed the most flights whether it’s his own fault or the airline’s fault for having cancelled flights. It worked out last time that Braeden wasn’t going to make it on time.”

A concerned Carruthers started looking for a sub with his team playing two early back-to-back games on the second day of the tournament.

Enter Peter Steski, the master of ceremonies of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling and one of the “Original 18” skips in the series. The Toronto native hadn’t played in a Grand Slam since the 2003 Players’ Championship, but desperation must have been setting in big time for Carruthers.

Carruthers: “It was really late at night and I had messaged our lovely emcee Pete if he was willing to lace up.”

Steski: “I think Reid actually was scraping the bottom of the barrel. He felt he had no other choice. He was just trying to do me a favour and keep me relevant.”

Samagalski and Hodgson moved up spots in the batting order to accommodate Steski’s inclusion at lead. Steski’s first game with the team was against Rob Rumfeldt of Guelph, Ont. It was a humbling ego-check moment for Steski when he started the warm-up wearing the wrong shoes.

Hodgson: I never saw him slide before because he’s an elite curler from kind of a different era than me. So I said, ‘Hey, you’re left-handed?’ and he said, ‘What are you talking about, Hodge?’ I said, ‘Look at your shoes,’ and he’s got left-handed shoes on. He sprinted up to the top of the Goldline booth, gets the right shoes just in time for practice, didn’t even stretch, and hasn’t thrown a competitive rock in years.”

Steski: “I don’t own curling shoes so we went up there [to the Goldline pop-up shop]. They gave me a pair of shoes to wear and I was wearing these things for at least half an hour. We go to take off our sliders and throw practice rocks. Colin Hodgson looks down and says, ‘Oh I didn’t know you were left-handed.’ I looked down and said, ‘Boys, I’ll be back in five minutes,’ and I had to go change my shoes.”

Carruthers: “I was beginning to think I had made one of the world’s worst mistakes but at the same time I think it kept the mood light and it was a lesson to be learned.”

Hodgson: “Our team needs that sometimes. We need something to lighten the mood so we don’t take ourselves too seriously and when we do that we play our best.”


Skip Reid Carruthers and super spare share a laugh during round-robin action at the 2014-15 National in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

Team Carruthers won its first game against Team Rumfeldt 6-1 in just five ends. Carruthers dropped a gem on them curling a perfect 100 percent while Steski threw a team-low 80.

Steski: “The first end I was very bad and Colin Hodgson bailed me out. I really put him in a hole. After that I felt comfortable, but what I remember most is just having a ton of fun and the guys made me feel super-relaxed.”

Steski never had to play a full eight-end game as Carruthers followed that up making quick work out of Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz as well winning 9-3 in six ends thanks to a big five-ender in the final frame. Carruthers was sharp again at 96 percent with Steski down to 75.

Moskowy re-joined the team in time for their third game and from there they continued to cruise finishing round-robin play with a 5-0 record to top their table heading into the playoffs. Hometown hero Brad Jacobs halted their momentum cooling them down with a 6-3 quarterfinal victory.

Carruthers and Hodgson point to Steski’s pinch-hit appearance as helping to ease the tension and nerves of their first Grand Slam appearance as a new team.

Carruthers: “For sure it took the pressure off and just kept us loose. It was probably two of the best games I’ve ever curled.”

Hodgson: “That was a blast. Pete was a really good addition.”

Steski: “I think they learned from my veteran experience and I’d like to take credit for it, but the boys just played great. … It was a blast to play with them, all of them, and I would do it again any time. It was a lot of fun but I think I should stay retired undefeated.”