Winning streaks are nothing new for Norway’s team at the Ford Worlds but winning streaks with your backs up against a wall of nails?
That’s a different story.
Thomas Ulsrud’s Norwegians on Saturday afternoon advanced to the world men’s curling championship semi-final later today against Scotland by walloping Niklas Edin of Sweden 7-2 in the tournament’s Page Three-Four playoff match.
The win was Ulsrud’s seventh straight after amassing a 2-4 record in his first six round-robin games. A loss in any of those last seven would have denied the Norwegians a shot at the title.
With Ulsrud out of action due to a personal issue, the same team won 10 straight last year in the World Championship at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. With current vice-skip Torger Nergaard skipping, the Norwegians compiled an 11-3 record, losing to Canada’s Kevin Koe in the final.
This time around, Ulsrud and his team of Nergaard, Christoffer Svae and Haavard Vad Petersson already have knocked off Canada but needs a semi-final win over Tom Brewster’s Aberdeen crew at 5 p.m. CT., in order to qualify for Sunday’s championship final against Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg.
Norway hammered Sweden with three in the second end and stole a single in the third, two in the fourth and another single in the fifth end to prance away to a 7-1 lead. The game was wrapped in eight panels.
“It was so frustrating early in the week because nobody saw us play this well,” said Ulsrud. “We were leaking oil all over the place but we’ve managed to fine-tune the engine. Now we are going hard. I’m looking forward to play Scotland in the semi-final.”
Edin’s troops will now prepare for Sunday’s bronze-medal game at 12 noon against the semi-final loser.
“I think Norway will win for sure so we are expecting to play Scotland,” said Edin. “Norway has really stepped up its game by 10 per cent over the Scottish team.
“Our record against Norway now is 15-14 but they’ve won most of the big games in championships. They have so much more experience. It’s huge for that team. We can’t compete with them at this kind of tournament with the experience they have.”
Edin said his team was totally fooled by changes in the ice surface in the Page Three-Four tilt.
“We knew it would be tricky, but not like this,” he said. “Some spots that had been curling were just dead straight or even falling back. It totally took us off our game. Rocks were curling in practice and then one side of the sheet just straightened up. I can’t see how we could have prepared for those patches on the ice, they were totally unpredictable.”