Canada and Norway will head into the final day of the round robin tied for first place, with 8-1 records, at the Capital One World Men’s Curling Championship in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Not only that, but the two leaders will hook up in the final draw on Thursday, with first place likely on the line.
Canada, skipped by Edmonton’s Kevin Koe, won a pair on Wednesday, a 12-3 pasting of Japan, followed by a 7-1 drubbing of France.
“That was a good win,” said Koe, after the Japan thumping. “I was happy we got right back on the ice this morning after that game (a loss to Germany) last night. That wasn’t our best game, and so we were looking forward to getting back out here today and starting to play well. What’s surprised us (about this world championship) most is just how beautiful it is here and how well this has been organized – it’s just unbelievable. Even the crowds are bigger than we expected. It’s been a great week so far.”
After dismantling France, Koe, who is making his Worlds debut, added, “It was a good day, and eight and one going into the last day is pretty good. That one loss may come back to haunt us, but we would have taken eight and one at the start of the week.
“We’ve got a couple of tough games tomorrow (China and Norway). China is always tough. We’ve actually played them quite a few times and they always seem to be close games. Then we have Norway at night, so it’s a big day for us.”
Norway, skipped by Torger Nergård (replacing Thomas Ulsrud, who returned to Oslo just prior to the start of the championship due to a family illness), kept pace with Canada, though, edging Denmark, 5-3, then besting Germany, 8-3.
Prior to the showdown with Canada on Thursday evening, Norway, silver medallists at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, takes on China as well in the afternoon.
Scotland, skipped by two-time (1999, 2006) world champion Warwick Smith, is in third place with a 7-2 mark, after losing to the United States, 7-5, before whipping Italy, 10-4.
United States, skipped by the 2006 Olympic bronze medallist Pete Fenson, also enjoyed a perfect day to move into fourth place with a 6-3 mark, beating Italy 8-5 in the morning, then Scotland, 7-5 in the afternoon, counting three in the 10th end for the come from behind victory.
Denmark (Ulrik Schmidt) and Germany (Andy Kapp) are next at 5-4, followed by Switzerland (Stefan Karnusian) at 4-5, China (Fengchun Wang), France (Thomas Dufour) and Sweden (Per Carlsén), all at 3-6, with Italy (Joel Retornaz) at 2-7 and winless Japan (Makoto Tsuruga) at 0-9.
Round robin play concludes with three draws on Thursday. After any required tiebreakers, the first four finishers proceed to the Page Playoffs, whereby the first and second place teams meet in one game, with the winner advancing to the final on Sunday, while the loser goes to Saturday’s semi-final.
In the other playoff game, the third and fourth place teams battle, with the winner also advancing to the semi-final, while the loser goes to the bronze medal game on Sunday morning to meet the loser of the semi-final.
TSN will air the semi-final on Saturday and the gold medal game on Sunday, April 11, live across Canada.