CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy – Another men’s championship curling showdown with Norway, another gold medal for Canada.
Edmonton’s Kevin Koe stormed out to a 5-1 lead en route to an emphatic 9-3 win over Norway on Sunday in the final of the Capital One world men’s curling championship. The win comes less than two months after Edmonton’s Kevin Martin beat Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud 6-3 to capture the Olympic men’s curling title in Vancouver.
The victory capped quite a ride for Koe, whose rink of Blake MacDonald, Carter Rycroft, Nolan Theissen and alternate Jamie King captured the Canadian title last month in Halifax in its first-ever appearance in the Brier.
“It’s been such a whirlwind last month and a half for us,” said Koe. “It’s just been an awesome ride for us and I’m just so happy for the guys.
“This is a pretty good team and now we’re world champs. That’s something no one can take away from us.”
Ulsrud was slated to again skip Norway at the world championship but never made it on to the ice. He had to return home prior to the tournament due to a family illness, leaving the Norwegian team – which has set the curling world on its ear with its loud, colourful checkered pants – without its leader.
Still, that didn’t seem to deter the Norwegians, who finished atop the world tournament standings with a 10-1 record before losing 11-5 to Canada in the 1-versus-2 playoff that clinched the Canadians an automatic berth in Sunday’s final. Norway qualified for the championship by downing Scotland in semifinal action Saturday.
Scotland beat the United States 6-4 to capture the bronze medal Sunday.
In the final, Canada that wasted little time taking control of the match.
The rink scored three points in the first end before adding two more in the third for a commanding 5-1 lead.
Koe also ended the contest emphatically. With Norway sitting two, he registered a double takeout with his final stone that scored two for the Canadian rink, prompting the Norwegians to shake hands.
“We expected a closer game – they’re one of the best teams in the world, but we made some good shots in the first and it was good to get up that three points,” Koe said. “They didn’t miss much, but we were awesome today.
“They weren’t in trouble till the end of that first end. Blake (MacDonald) made a freeze and then I put up a good one with my first, and that set us up for sure.”
Norwegian alternate skip Torger Nergard heaped lavish praise upon the Canadian team.
“You don’t want to lose, but these things happen,” he said. “They played a great game and deserved to win.”
In addition to receiving a silver medal, Nergard also was given the Collie Campbell award for outstanding sportsmanship in voting conducted by tournament players.
Koe said his squad will certainly celebrate its world championship win, but the festivities will be short lived.
“We’re out of here at 3 a.m. (local time) and going straight to the Players’ Championship,” he said. “We play this game all the time, and practise all the time for moments like this, which is pretty special.”
The bronze medal game was a much closer affair.
It came down to the 10th end, with Scottish third David Smith producing a brilliant hit-and-roll to sit behind cover. American Pete Fenson was too heavy in his attempt, allowing the Scots to steal two and secure the victory.