EDMONTON – The Norwegian newbie aiming to be the next in a long line of prominent skips from his country had a dream debut at the 2017 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Service Experts.
Steffen Walstad of Oslo got a win in his first game at the Ford Worlds by downing Scottish veteran David Murdoch 9-6 Saturday evening. Murdoch is making his seventh appearance in the championship. It was the first game for both teams.
Walstad had control most of the way in the highly entertaining affair that had lots of rocks in play. A good example was the sixth end. When Walstad went to throw his final rock there were 10 stones in the house, seven touching the button or four-foot. His missile blast, however, didn’t have the desired effect. When the granite cleared a Scottish stone was shot rock and all of a sudden the game was tied 5-5.
But Walstad managed to recover with two the next end and a last shot takeout in the 10th to score two for the victory.
“It’s a major win for us because we’ve been struggling with (Murdoch). He was one of the European teams we haven’t been able to beat the last couple of years so to be able to beat him in our first worlds game is good,” said Walstad, who plays with third Markus Høiberg, second Magnus Nedregotten, lead Alexander Lindström, alternate Sander Rølvag and coaches Thomas Løvold and Pal Trulsen.
“Last year we struggled with directional sweeping, and he’s (Murdoch) such an experienced skip and he was just playing with me. It was a little tricky out there (Saturday), a little frosty, and it caught both him and me a little bit.”
To get to the Ford Worlds, Walstad had to get by long-time Norwegian champ and former world winner Thomas Ulsrud in a qualification series.
Walstad admits the team feels a little bit of pressure trying to follow in the footsteps of past world and national champions like Ulsrud, Trulsen, Eigel Ramjsfell and Kristian Sørum.
“We have something to live up to,” said Walstad.
Another Scandinavian skip, Niklas Edin of Sweden, also scored a victory in his first game defeating a pesky Rui Liu of China 10-7. Edin had jumped out to a 6-1 lead and needed all 10 ends to win.
“The ice was really tricky. We played well in the beginning but then we didn’t focus enough to make those shots when the ice wasn’t as we expected it to be. We need better focus the next game,” said Edin, who will play Germany in the afternoon draw (2 p.m., all times MT) and Canada’s Brad Gushue in the evening draw (7 p.m.).
Italy skipped by Joel Retornaz, got into the win column by defeating Germany’s Alexander Baumann 7-5. Both teams are 1-1.
The United States skipped by John Shuster and Peter de Cruz of Switzerland are both 1-1 after de Cruz outlasted Shuster 7-4.
Canada (1-0), Japan’s Yusuke Morozumi (1-0), Jaap van Dorp of the Netherlands (0-1) and Russia’s Alexey Stukalskiy (0-1) all had byes in the evening draw.
The Ford Worlds continue Sunday with draws at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at https://www.curling.ca/2017worldmen/?lang=fr
TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2017 Ford Worlds.