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Canada sweeps gold medals at World Seniors

It doesn’t get any better than this.

Canada won gold medals Saturday in both the men’s and women’s events at the World Senior Curling Championships in St. Paul, Minnesota. And both teams went undefeated in doing so.

Christine Jurgenson of Victoria, British Columbia, led her team to a gold medal, defeating Sweden’s Ingrid Meldahl, 9-2 in the women’s final, while Edmonton’s Mark Johnson duplicated that feat, while handing the United States its only loss of the week, 5-4 in a riveting men’s final.

The victory capped a perfect week for the Juan de Fuca Curling Club foursome of Jurgenson, Cheryl Noble, Pat Sanders and lead Roselyn Craig. After going 10-0 in the round robin, they defeated Switzerland, 6-5 in a tight semi-final to advance to today’s gold medal game.

In victory, Jurgenson defeated Meldahl, a two-time (2006, 2007) world seniors champion, opening with three in the first, then stealing four in the third for an insurmountable 7-0 lead, in a game eventually called after six ends.

“We are delighted to win,” said Jurgenson. “The Swedes made us have to think but there’s no doubt that the three and four pointers were key to us winning the game.”

It’s the second world seniors crown for the team, which also went undefeated in 2009 in Dunedin, New Zealand, but whose line-up then had Sanders as skip, Noble at third, Craig at second and Jurgenson at lead.

The Jurgenson and Johnson teams won last year’s World Financial Group Canadian Seniors in Ottawa, to qualify for this year’s World Seniors.

It was the seventh world senior women’s title and fourth consecutive victory for Canada since 2002 and came on the heels of last year’s win by Nova Scotia’s Colleen Pinkney of Truro, who also went undefeated during the championship in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Switzerland ( Chantal Forrer) took the bronze medal on Saturday, 5-4 over the United States (Margie Smith).

Meanwhile, Johnson had to scratch and claw for every point in a battle of unbeaten teams. His Thistle Curling Club team of third Marv Wirth, second Ken McLean and lead Millard Evans took one in the eighth end to tie the game at four, after blanking the seventh, before stealing the winning point in an extra end.

Both Canada and the United States, skipped by Wisconsin’s Geoff Goodland, had finished the round robin with 6-0 records, while capturing the Red and Blue Groups, respectively. Johnson first beat Scotland, 9-3 in a quarter-final, then demolished Australia, 11-1 in a semi-final, while Goodland took care of New Zealand, 6-2 in another quarter-final, before beating Denmark, 11-2 in the other semi-final, to set up the showdown.

It was also the seventh world senior men’s gold medal for Canada since the championship officially began in 2002 in Bismarck, North Dakota. While it was the first world title for Johnson, it was the third for Wirth, McLean and Evans, who also teamed with Pat Ryan to win in 2008 and with Les Rogers in 2006.

“That was a great game. It was so close all the way,” said Johnson, who finished with an overall mark of 9-0. “With good shots being made by both teams, it was one of those games that you didn’t know who was going to win it. The pressure was on quite a bit and stealing the point in the extra was very fortunate.”

Australia (Hugh Millikin) won the bronze medal, defeating Denmark (Bent Kristoffersen), 8-5.

The World Mixed Doubles championship, held in conjunction with the World Seniors, went to Switzerland’s Sven Michel and Alina Pätz, who defeated Russia, 11-2 in the gold medal game, while France edged Sweden, 8-6 for the bronze.

Canada’s Robert Campbell and Rebecca Jean MacDonald finished with an overall record of 5-4, after being eliminated in a second tiebreaker on Friday.