It was a great day for Canada at the Karuizawa International Curling Championships, with our women winning gold and our men taking home silver.
Our Canadian women have been the cardiac kids all week, and they stayed true to form in the final against Switzerland. The girls were tied without hammer heading in to the ninth end, but ended up giving up a nearly crushing three point score.
The girls obviously had their work cut out for them in the tenth, but in typical Canadian fashion they didn’t quit. After the front-end got a couple of corner guards established, third Sarah Wilkes made a terrific come-around on her last shot, leaving a small piece of her rock exposed. The Swiss skip decided to go after Sarah’s rock rather than peeling the guard, and proceeded to miss everything. Then, skip Laura Crocker played another come-around, and ended up biting top twelve, again with just a corner exposed. That left the Swiss skip with no choice but to try the same shot again, and as luck would have it, she ended up missing everything again. Laura then had an open draw to the house to score three points, and she made no mistake.
The next detail was to find a way to steal the extra end, and their formula started with virtually flawless execution. In fact, by the time the Swiss skip came to throw her last shot we had two rocks buried in the four foot, and she had no option other than to draw the button. She gave it a good effort, but her rock stopped about a foot short of the button. That left Canada with a one point steal, and the title. It was a fitting end to an outstanding week for the young Canadian team of Laura Crocker, Sarah Wilkes, Jen Gates, Pam Feldkamp, Cheryl Kreviazuk, and coach Maurice Wilson. They came out on top of a very strong women’s field, and have an extremely bright future ahead of them.
Our men’s team was also very impressive this week, and came within an eye-lash of winning it all. After trailing early in the final game against Japan Selection, the men fought back and had the score tied playing the ninth without hammer. However, when skip Colin Thomas came to throw his last rock he was looking at four opposition counters, and had no choice but to play a raise take-out to try to minimize the damage. As it turned out the raised rock rolled about a foot too far after removing the object rock, and the Japanese skip looked to have a relatively straightforward shot for three. Fortunately for us however, he ended up jamming our rock on to one of his own at the back of the house, and we escaped by giving up just a single point.
That left us one down with hammer playing the tenth end, and the team managed to set themselves up for two thanked to a terrific run-back double by third Cory Schuh. The potential for two was still there when it came to skip Colin Thomas’ last shot, but unfortunately he was just heavy on a quiet tap-back attempt. So, the guys ended up scoring one and headed to an extra end in the same tied without position as the girls.
Unfortunately, the Japanese lead made two perfect ticks, and we could never get a guard established. In the end, the best we could do was to force their skip to draw the the eight foot with his last rock, and he succeeded in doing so. All in all, it was an excellent effort for our young team of Colin Thomas, Cory Schuh, Chris Ford, Spencer Wicks, Stephen Ryan, and coach Jeff Thomas. They’re a talented young squad, who should give Brad Gushue a tussle in future years as they fight for supremacy in their home province of Newfoundland.
So, it was a very positive week for Canada in Karuizawa. Two medals, some wonderful memories, and many new friends. I couldn’t be prouder of our teams.
Canadian University Coach