They might have missed the odd cue this week, but Sunday afternoon was showtime for Niklas Edin and Co. Despite a disappointing week at the 2011 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Richardson, Sweden finished on a high note — earning a bronze medal with a 7-6 victory over Norway at the Brandt Centre.
“We really focused on a good game here,” said Edin, skip of Sweden’s Karlstad-based entry that includes third Sebastian Kraupp, second Fredrik Lindberg, and lead Viktor Kjaell, “because this tournament has really been unfortunate for us.
“I think we played about as well as we thought we could, but we’ve had some odd mistakes and a couple of really bad breaks, and that’s not like us,” added Edin. “Today, we were a bit more hungry out there. We really tried to nail every shot, every time.
“This takes a lot of pressure off us. We really wanted to pick up that medal, and the bronze means the world to us.”
The Swedes landed a solid blow with two in the eighth end, making it 6-4, as Edin drew to the button for the deuce after Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud had come up short on a draw attempt with his final stone.
Norway countered with two of its own in the ninth. Edin knocked two of his own stones out of the rings trying to remove a Norwegian guard with his first throw, and Ulsrud took full advantage with a hit-and-minimal-roll for a pair.
In the 10th, the house was empty until Edin drew into the 12-foot ring with his first stone. Ulsrud removed the rock and stayed in the 12-foot, but Edin executed a near-perfect draw, grabbing a piece of the button for the game-winning single.
It was the first medal for the Swedes at the men’s world championship since 2004, when Peja Lindholm — currently Sweden’s national coach — captured gold on home soil at Gavle, Sweden.
Sunday’s win also capped a banner year for Swedish curling. The women, led by Anette Norberg, won the world title last month at Esbjerg, Denmark, while the junior men, helmed by Oskar Eriksson, captured a global crown in mid-March at Perth, Scotland.
While Sweden finished with an 8-5 record, the Norwegians (9-6) concluded a roller-coaster ride of a tournament. The 2010 Olympic runners-up stumbled to a 2-4 start, reeled off seven straight wins — including a tiebreaker over France on Friday and a Page Playoff 3-4 victory over Sweden on Saturday — before falling to Scotland in Saturday night’s semifinal.
“I’m a bit disappointed right now. After (a) 2-4 (start), we actually picked it up and played really well for five (draws). But the last two games, we haven’t played well,” said Ulsrud, whose Olso-based quartet includes third Torger Nergaard, second Christoffer Svae, and lead Haavard Vad Petersson. “You desperately want a medal. That’s the main goal. When you end up just short of that? I’m not happy.”
Norway’s fourth-place finish ended the country’s string of FWMCC medals at three — bronze in 2008 at Grand Forks, N.D., bronze in 2009 at Moncton, N.B., and silver last year at Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy.
“We didn’t pull off the big shots. We had some big chances today . . . (but) we actually didn’t put some real pressure on (Edin),” remarked Ulsrud. “When he was coming home with hammer . . . I had this sinking feeling that it was over.
“You hate to lose a game like this,” added Ulsrud. “Often, the team that loses the semi also loses the bronze final as well. That’s the feeling I have, anyway.”
Jeff Stoughton’s Canadians (11-1) face Tom Brewster’s Scots (10-3) in Sunday’s gold-medal final at 5 p.m. CST/7 p.m. ET at the Brandt Centre. The game will be carried live nationally on TSN.