On a dramatic final day of round-robin play at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in Regina, Canada, the hosts finally lost their unbeaten playing record with the final stone of the evening, as Canadian skip Jeff Stoughton pushed through a heavy draw to hand Norway a 7-6 win and keep the Norwegians medal hopes alive.
Norway now faces a Friday afternoon sudden-death tie-breaker against France, who survived a second-half charge by the USA to win their concluding round-robin game by 9-7.
Despite this loss, Canada still topped the rankings with just one loss, and they now face second-placed Scotland, who had earlier closed their round-robin campaign by beating the USA by 7-6, in Friday evening’s one versus two play-off game, with the winner taking the direct route to the final, and the loser having a second chance to reach the final via a semi-final encounter against whoever emerges from the three versus four playoff game.
Sweden’s Niklas Edin had booked his place in the three-four game in the afternoon session, with a 7-4 win over Switzerland in his final round-robin match-up, and he now must wait to find out whether he will be up against France or Norway.
After his game, Canadian skip Jeff Stoughton said, “tomorrow is the big day and if we win the one-two, that’s all we care about, we’ve got two wins to go. We couldn’t be in a better position”.
“We had a good game, we had a lot of great shots made, both teams made a lot of good shots, but I think we were more excited about our 50/50 win (in-house Canadian lottery for $15,000) - that was great, so no concerns, no worries”.
For his part, Scottish skip Tom Brewster is desperate to get the playoff game started. “can’t wait to play Canada...what a buzz. That’s what it’s all about....full house...Canada...I play this game to play the best teams and they’re one of the best teams in the world”.
Meanwhile, a much-relieved Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud said, “we’ve got a good thing going now. We had a really bad start but the last five games we’ve played the way I know we can play. But then I think we can give Canada a match as we did tonight. If you end up in the tie breaker you are not happy – but I’m loving the tie breaker right now”.
After giving up three in the ninth end to allow USA to level the game, France’s fourth player Tony Angiboust delivered a perfect take-out for a 9-7 win to keep his team’s campaign alive.
Reaching the tie-breaker equals France’s best performance of recent years at this event, and afterwards, skip Thomas Dufour said, “every time we had good opportunities, we missed a shot, but it finished well with the last rock”.
And about his fourth player Angiboust he added, “I was pretty sure he was going to make it, because he is accurate on the peel weight”.
“We were not very happy that Canada missed the last shot, so we have a tie-break against Norway and he is playing strong at the moment, so we will see what happens”.
Standings after session 17 – end of round robin:
6. Germany 6-5
7. Switzerland 6-5
8. Czech Republic 5-6
9. China 4-7
10. USA 3-8
11. Korea 2-9
12. Denmark 0-11.
Session 16: Czech Republic 9, Germany 8; Sweden 7, Switzerland 4; China 1, Norway 3; Scotland 7, USA 6.
Session 17: Korea 6, Switzerland 7; Denmark 5, Czech Republic 6; USA 7, France 9; Norway 7, Canada 6.
Friday 8 April
13:30 local: Tie-break: France v Norway
19:30 local: Page 1v2 Playoff: Canada v Scotland (winner goes directly to final on Sunday)
Saturday 9 April
12:30 local: Page 3v4 Playoff: Sweden v Winner of Tie-break
17:00 local: Semi Final (loser of 1v2 Playoff v winner of 3v4 Playoff)
Sunday 10 April
12:00 local: Bronze Medal Game (loser of 3v4 playoff v loser of semi final)
17:00 local: Gold Medal Game (winner of 1v2 playoff v winner of semi final)
TV & Web: http://www.worldcurling.org/ford-world-mens-curling-championship-2011-tv-web-coverage
Live Scores: http://www.curling.ca/championships/curlcast-1
Scores mirrored on: http://results.worldcurling.org/Championship.aspx?id=396
Event websites for news & photos: http://www.curling.ca/championships/worlds/