Canada’s Gushue secures top seed at world men’s curling championship

LAS VEGAS — Win or lose at this week’s World Men’s Curling Championship, Brad Gushue believes his team’s legacy is secure. “I think we’re the best team to ever play considering the longevity we’ve had and the success we’ve had,” Gushue said.

LAS VEGAS — Win or lose at this week’s World Men’s Curling Championship, Brad Gushue believes his team’s legacy is secure.

“I think we’re the best team to ever play considering the longevity we’ve had and the success we’ve had,” Gushue said. “It’s a tough argument for anyone else to make, so (a headline here) would definitely be icing on the cake.”

His team of vice Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker rounded out the resume well this season with a Trials victory, a fourth national title in six years and an Olympic bronze medal.

Another medal could come this weekend after the team secured a place in the semi-finals with an 8-6 win over Scotsman Kyle Waddell on Friday. The Canadians in first place (10-2) secured the top seed in the evening with a 9-2 rout of Dane Tobias Thune.

Three-time defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden (9-3) closed his afternoon round-robin schedule with a 7-6 win over Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell 7-6. Edin got the other direct spot for the semi-final.

Italian Joel Retornaz and American Korey Dropkin (both 7-4) also secured playoff berths.

Scotland, Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller and South Korea’s Soo-Hyuk Kim were all 6-5. Germany’s Sixten Totzek was next at 6-6.

The 3rd-6th place teams will meet in qualifying matches on Saturday for the semi-final spots.

Gushue’s current four-man roster has spent two quadrennials together, but Gallant will leave at the end of the season. Along with their national and Olympic gear, they won world gold in 2017, silver in 2018 and have 12 Grand Slam titles to their credit.

“There’s enough on the resume to cement the legacy of this team,” Gushue said. “I don’t know if a win here this week is going to move that needle much. Obviously winning will make it better.”

Gushue, who won Olympic gold in 2006 with Nichols, was determined to limit the distractions he said hampered the team when the 2018 world championship was held at this venue.

The Canadians are not staying at the tournament hotel and have kept a low profile during their time out. A pre-event round of golf was the calendar’s most ambitious activity since arriving in Sin City.

It was a trying but successful season for the Gushue team. They topped the field at Canada’s Olympic Trials last November — considered curling’s toughest event — and isolated themselves at a pre-Games training camp in British Columbia for a few weeks before retiring. go to Beijing.

A semifinal loss to Edin at the Ice Cube was followed by a win over American John Shuster in the bronze medal match. A short break was followed by a memorable week at the Brier, where Gushue’s team prevailed despite losing Nichols for the final weekend due to COVID-19.

A second world title would be quite an achievement in an unforgettable season that ends with a few Grand Slam stages.

“There were times this week where I felt like a zombie,” Gushue said. “You’re focused and trying to do your best. But it’s been a long year. It’s been a chore.”

The Canadians controlled the second half against Scotland, but a ninth end corner kick from fourth Ross Paterson tied the game at six. Gushue had the hammer in the 10th but didn’t need his last rock after Paterson threw his final shot between the two Canadian rocks in the house.

It was a nice break for the Canadians as the weight of the draw changed during the game. The mild conditions outside – the mercury reached 30C – may have impacted the icy conditions.

“We had a few flat spots and it kind of screwed up,” Gushue said. “If we were to draw on all four feet in the last set it would have been a bit of a guess and you don’t really want that. Luckily we played a really good 10th set.”

Canada opened with a pair against Denmark and pulled away with a three-point third end. The teams shook hands after the minimum six innings were completed.

The venue, located a few miles from the Vegas Strip, is bursting with Canadian flavors, though the pandemic has impacted attendance, travel plans and limited the event’s usual activities.

Several dozen Canadian fans shouted their support when the Gushue team was on the ice. “38 Years Old” by The Tragically Hip played over the arena speakers after the morning game.

Gushue defeated Edin in the 2017 World Finals in Edmonton. The Swede, five-time world champion, won the return match a year later.

Medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 8, 2022.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press