Reid Carruthers representing West St. Paul Curling Club at Manitoba Championship. (Brook Jones/Selkirk Journal/Postmedia Network)
Not even two days into the Manitoba men's curling championship the upsets are beginning to pile up and the top skip is sick.
No. 1 seed Mike McEwen, the two-time defending champion, is missing his team's second game, against Pinawa's Richard Muntain, this afternoon.
McEwen was last seen in the Winkler Centennial Arena bundled up in a parka and begging off interviews after opening with a win, Wednesday.
He had told reporters on Tuesday he wasn't feeling well, going into the event.
Some other high seeds are feeling off for different reasons.
No. 3 seed Jason Gunnlaugson dropped an 8-5 decision to 19th seed Daniel Birchard this morning, moving Gunnlaugson to the B-side, where he faces elimination in the 4 p.m. draw.
The 25-year-old Birchard sounded surprised to have defeated the more experienced Gunnlaugson.
“He shouldn't,” Gunnlaugson said. “He beat us, like, three years ago. We weren't too excited to see him, that's for sure. But we got him back, and we might get a chance this year, you never know.
“It happens -- you lose an early one. You've just got to work harder.”
Birchard moves to 2-0 and needs just one more win to advance to the final eight.
“I'm not too excited, yet,” Birchard said. “But we've done better than I thought we would do. Honestly, we just wanted to win one game so we would make it to the second day.”
Gunnlaugson is in better shape than two other top-10 seeds.
No. 6 Braden Calvert and tenth seed Sean Grassie have both gone home after losing their second straight, late Wednesday.
“It happens every year, here, to somebody,” Gunnlaugson said. “A lot of good teams, and you play a little bit off and you lose the game.”
Other top seeds are so far unscathed, No. 4 Pat Simmons and No. 5 William Lyburn improving to 2-0 this morning.
Second seed Reid Carruthers is 1-0, with McEwen, and is playing the noon draw.
Eight of 32 teams qualify for the playoff round, which begins Friday night and concludes Sunday afternoon.