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Team Canada aims to add to golden curling season

Kevin Koe’s team from the Glencoe Club in Calgary will look to win Canada’s fourth international gold medal of the 2013-14 curling season when the 2014 World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Ford of Canada, opens Saturday at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing.

Team Canada, from left, Kevin Koe, Pat Simmons, Carter Rycroft, Nolan Thiessen, Jamie King and John Dunn. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

Team Canada, from left, Kevin Koe, Pat Simmons, Carter Rycroft, Nolan Thiessen, Jamie King and John Dunn. (Photo, CCA/Michael Burns)

The Koe foursome — third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen, alternate Jamie King, team coach John Dunn and national coach Rick Lang — will be looking to join Olympic gold-medallists Brad Jacobs and Jennifer Jones and world junior women’s champ Kelsey Rocque in ascending to the top step of the medal podium on the world stage this season.

Team Canada opens the 12-team round-robin competition on Saturday against Rasmus Stjerne of Denmark at 7 p.m. local time, which is 7 a.m. Eastern on Saturday.

Canada will be looking to win a leading 35th world championship in the 55-year history of the World Men’s Championship, in addition to bringing a fourth title to Canada in five years. Koe — with Rycroft, Thiessen and Dunn aboard — won gold in 2010 at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; Jeff Stoughton triumphed in 2011 at Regina and Glenn Howard prevailed in 2012 at Basel, Switzerland. Last year, Jacobs lost the gold-medal game to Sweden’s Niklas Edin in Victoria.

The championship is being staged in the same arena that hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic volleyball competition, and has a listed capacity of 17,345.

The fans in Beijing will see a field that features Olympians and former world champions competing in the first Asia-hosted World Men’s Championship.

In addition to Koe and his 2010 gold medal, one of Scotland’s most accomplished World Championship curlers, Ewan MacDonald, will skip for the second time at the event in pursuit of his fourth gold medal, which would tie the record currently co-held by Canadians Ernie Richardson, Arnold Richardson, Sam Richardson, Randy Ferbey and Glenn Howard.

Five teams that competed at the Sochi Olympics will be in the field, including the host team skipped by Rui Liu, who finished fourth in Sochi, impressively covering the pin in eight of his nine pre-game last-shot draws for first-end hammer, and pushing Sweden to the limit in the bronze-medal game before two hog-line violations in the late stages sunk Chinese hopes.

As well, Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud — a three-time world championship bronze-medallist, who lost a playoff tiebreaker in Sochi — will be among the favourites. Other Olympic teams in Beijing are Russia’s Andrey Drozdov, Germany’s Johnny Jahr and the Danes, while U.S. skip Pete Fenson is a former Olympian, winning bronze in 2006 at Turin.

The field in Beijing is rounded out by 2010 world junior champ Peter de Cruz of Switzerland (who will have 2014 Olympian Benoit Schwarz throwing fourth stones), 2011 world junior champ Oskar Eriksson of Sweden (who was the alternate on Edin’s 2013 gold-medal team from Victoria), Jirí Snítil of the Czech Republic and Yusuke Morozumi of Japan.

TSN (RDS2 in French) will broadcast six of Canada’s round-robin games, and also will televise the playoffs leading to the gold-medal game on April 6 at 3 a.m. ET.

Here is Canada’s round-robin schedule, with the broadcast plans (all times ET):

March 29 — vs. Denmark (Rasmus Stjerne), 7 a.m. (live, TSN/RDS2)
March 30 — vs. Japan (Yusuke Morozumi), 2 a.m.
March 30 — vs. China (Rui Liu), 7 a.m. (live, TSN/RDS2)
March 30 — vs. Russia (Andrey Drozdov), 9 p.m.
March 31 — vs. Czech Republic (Jirí Snítil), 7 a.m. (live, TSN/RDS2)
April 1 — vs. U.S.A. (Pete Fenson), 2 a.m.
April 1 — vs. Norway (Thomas Ulsrud), 7 a.m. (live, TSN/RDS2)
April 1 — vs. Switzerland (Peter de Cruz), 9 p.m.
April 2 — vs. Sweden (Oskar Eriksson), 7 a.m. (live, TSN/RDS2)
April 3 — vs. Germany (Johnny Jahr), 9 p.m.
April 3 — vs. Scotland (Ewan MacDonald), 2 a.m. (live TSN/ tape delay, 7 a.m. RDS2)

For Team Canada updates, go to www.curling.ca. Follow us on Twitter, @CCAcurling.

For live scoring, standings and team lineups from the 2014 World Men’s Curling Championship, go to: wmcc2014.curlingevents.com/