Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy - 11th April: Canada’s Kevin Koe and his team of Blake MacDonald, Carter Rycroft, Nolan Theissen and alternate Jamie King, won gold at the Capital One World Men’s Curling Championship with a one-sided 9-3 victory over Norway in Sunday afternoon’s final in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Earlier, Scotland had beaten USA by 6-4 to take bronze medals.
Norway and Canada had topped the ranking after the round-robin, and the final was the third time they had met during the Championship, with Norway winning during the round-robin and Canada being victorious in the Page Play-off between the two. However, Canada were dominant from the off in the final, scoring three in the first end when Koe had a hit and stay for three.
Norway could only score one in the second, and Canada moved further ahead in the third, when Koe had an easy draw for two. The teams swapped singles for the next two ends and then Canada had a single steal in the sixth, for a 7-2 lead. After this, Koe sealed his triumph with a further two points in the eighth, when Norway conceded.
This win comes directly on the heels of Koe’s win at The Brier on his first trip to the Canadian national championship, and, with his shiny new gold medal round his neck, an elated Koe said, “It’s been such a whirlwind last month and a half for us. 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”.
The final itself was disappointing as a spectacle, with Norway never really able to challenge Canada.
Commenting on this, Koe said, “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. 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”.
Looking around the arena, Koe added, “we play this game all the time, and practise all the time for moments like this, which is pretty special”. However he also explained that their celebrations will be short-lived. “We’re out of here at three in the morning and then we’re going straight to the Players’ Championship”.
For his part, Norwegian skip Torger Nergard, who went on to win the Collie Campbell sportsmanship award, voted for by his fellow-players, simply said, “you don’t want to lose, but these things happen. They played a great game and deserved to win”.
The bronze medal play-off was a closer game. Eventually, in a tense tenth end, Scottish third David Smith produced a peach of a shot, hitting and rolling behind cover. Eventually, USA skip Pete Fenson was heavy and wide with his attempted pick-out shot to hand Scotland a steal of two, a 6-4 victory, and the bronze medals.
Afterwards, Warwick Smith said, “that was really tough. There’re a good team and they hang on, you never really get away from them”. Reflecting on the campaign, he said, “any medal at world level is fantastic. Obviously we came here trying to win gold, but once that dream is over, which was yesterday, you’ve got to re-focus yourself and say ‘this is the one for us’. All the guys were right up for it today. The worst thing in the world is having a good season as we’ve had and win nothing. I’ve been in his shoes (USA skip Pete Fenson) in ’98 and you just don’t want to be there”.
After the game USA skip Pete Fenson said, “We would have liked a different ending. We didn't finish out as strong as we'd have liked. Warwick played great again, and you gotta play great in this type of game to win it”.