Both Canadian teams are heading to the playoffs at the 2013 World Senior Curling Championships in Fredericton, N.B., on a roll.
Cathy King’s women’s team from the Saville Centre in Edmonton polished off a perfect round-robin by defeating Margie Smith of the United States 6-4 on Friday afternoon at the Grant-Harvey Centre.
Earlier in the day, Rob Armitage’s Red Deer, Alta.-based men’s team was an 8-2 winner over Wim Neeleman of the Netherlands to improve to 8-0 with one round-robin game remaining.
Both Canadian teams have clinched first place in their round-robin pools and will play in the semifinals on Saturday at 8 a.m. (all times Atlantic).
King, backed up by third Carolyn Morris, second Lesley McEwan, lead Doreen Gares and coach Bill Tschirhart, faced her stiffest test to date in a bid to extend Canada’s win streak at this event to 49 (going back to the 2008 World Seniors in Vierumäki, Finland). The Americans, who finished with a 3-3 record, hung tough for most of the game, but Canada (6-0) was able to take control by scoring three in the fourth end.
“They made us play, and they played well,” said King. “It wasn’t our best game, and the ice started out a little differently today. It was a little heavier and then it got lightning fast. It went from the heaviest we’ve played to the fastest, so that threw us a little bit for draw weight. But we figured it out. I think we needed a game like that to sharpen us up a bit. Hopefully we’ll figure out the draw weight a little quicker (tomorrow).”
Canada takes on two-time world senior women’s champion Ingrid Meldahl of Sweden (5-1) in one semifinal, while the other semi will feature Scotland’s Christine Cannon (6-0) against the winner of a late Friday tiebreaker between Austria’s Veronika Huber and Japan’s Mikiko Tsuchiya, who both finished with 4-2 records.
“We’ve seen (Sweden) play some good games this week,” said King. “I guess we’ll both be in the same boat playing on new ice (the seniors playoffs are being moved to the main arena). The different might be playing with the lights (electronic hog-line detection handles) on the rocks and they might have a few more problems than us.”
The men’s and women’s gold- and bronze-medal games are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday. One of the gold-medal games will be shown live online at www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV.
Meanwhile, Armitage’s team from Red Deer, Alta. (third Keith Glover, second Randy Ponich, lead Wilf Edgar and alternate Lyle Treiber; Tschirhart is coaching both Canadian senior teams) will take on Switzerland’s Werner Attinger, the 1984 world men’s championship silver-medallist, in the semifinal. The Swiss finished second in the other round-robin pool with a 7-2 record.
New Zealand’s Hans Frauenlob (8-1) will play Sweden’s Karl Nordlund in the other semifinal.
Against the Dutch, Canada took control early, scoring three in the second end and steeling one more in the third, then ending all doubt by scoring four in the fifth end.
“We just said, ‘Well, there’s step one,’ ” said Glover after the game. “That’s what we wanted to do, finish first, and that’s done. Now we just have one more job to do.”
Canada wraps up its round-robin schedule with a 3:30 p.m. game against Gert Messing of the United States (4-4).
Then, the sights turn to the playoffs, where Canada will attempt to win its eighth men’s gold medal in the 12-year history of the world senior championships.
“I don’t think it’ll be a problem to keep the intensity up,” said Glover. “This is what we’ve worked all year for. I don’t think the boys will have a problem getting up for the games tomorrow. At the Canadian seniors, we just tried to keep to the same things we did all week. Obviously, it was a good week. We just said, ‘Don’t look at the end. Just play each rock and get it done.’ That worked for us, and that’s what we’ll try to do tomorrow. If it’s working, don’t change things.”
Meanwhile, in the 2013 World Mixed Doubles Championship, which is being staged jointly with the World Seniors, the matchups are now set for the 6 p.m. quarter-final round.
Defending world champions Martin Rios and Nadine Lehmann of Switzerland (8-0) will play Norway’s Magnus Nedregotten and Kristin Skaslien (6-2); Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and Gina Aitken (6-2) will take on Sweden’s Fredrik Hallström and Elisabeth Norredahl (6-2); 2012 bronze-medallists Christian Roth and Claudia Toth of Austria (7-1) will play Hungary’s Zsolt Kiss and Dorottya Palancsa (7-1); and New Zealand’s Frauenlob (who’s pulling double duty here this week) and Natalie Campbell (7-1) will be up against Tomas Paul and Zuzana Hajkova.
The semifinals are set for Saturday at 11 a.m., with the gold- and bronze-medal games at 5 p.m.
Canada’s Robert Desjardins and Isabelle Néron of Saguenay, Que., along with coach Jim Waite, didn’t make the playoff round.
For live scores and standings from the World Seniors Championship, go to: www.wscc2013.curlingevents.com/.
For live scores and standings from the World Mixed Doubles Championship, go to: www.wmdcc2013.curlingevents.com/. The playoff round from the World Mixed Doubles can be watched online at: www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV.