For the second straight year, Canadian teams will be playing for gold at the World Junior Curling Championships, thanks to semifinal wins by Selena Sturmay and Tyler Tardi on Friday night at the Queen’s Place Emera Centre in Liverpool, N.S.
Sturmay and her team of third Abby Marks, second Kate Goodhelpsen, lead Paige Papley, alternate Karlee Burgess and coach Amanda-Dawn St. Laurent started the day with a must-win game against Russia to earn their spot in the playoffs.
In the semifinal, Canada took total control early against Switzerland’s Raphaela Keiser but had to navigate some complicated ends with lots of rocks in play on the way to an 8-2 win.
“I think honestly our team thrives in high-pressure situations, as funny as that is,” Sturmay afterwards. “It always seems in those high-pressure situations we just find a way to keep calm and have fun. I think that really helped us that game, just knowing at the end of the day it is just a curling game and knowing that it could be one of our last together. So just having fun and feeding off that energy really helped out there.”
While this is Canada’s second straight year in the women’s final, it’s the Sturmay team’s first, and they can’t wait.
“We are absolutely thrilled (to be playing for a gold medal),” said the skip. “It was one of our goals coming into the beginning of the week, and we’re just so happy that we achieved it and going forward we just want to have fun, and play well, and do Canada proud.”
In the men’s semifinal, Tardi and his team of third Sterling Middleton, second Matt Hall, lead Alex Horvath, alternate Rylan Kleiter and coach Paul Tardi got off to a quick start against Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell.
The Canadian men took advantage of some early misses by the Norwegian skip on his final draws to jump out into an early 4-0 lead. Things got messy in the second half as Ramsfjell was able to steal a couple of ends to make it close, Canada used its accurate big-weight hits to keep it clean and finished it off with a hit in ten for the 7-5 win and a trip to the gold medal game.
“We got a bit of a head start there with a two and then a steal of two, which was fortunate. Magnus doesn’t really ever miss those kinds of shots, and they clawed their way back – hats off to them – and fortunately for us we pulled it out,” said Tardi after watching Switzerland defeat Scotland in the other semifinal. “We’re really happy right now, and the fact that we’re playing for a medal tomorrow, regardless of the outcome, and making our country proud, really means a lot right now,” said Tardi. “We’re really excited to play tomorrow.”
This is Tardi’s second straight gold-medal game and he has a chance to repeat as champion, an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often, something he’s well aware of.
“There’s not really a whole lot of words that can express how we’re feeling right now. It’s always good to play for gold for your country and the fact that we can do it once more is just an unbelievable feeling. We can’t wait.”
Canada will face Switzerland’s Marco Hoesli in the men’s gold medal game, while Ramsfjell will play Scotland’s Ross Whyte for the bronze.
In women’s action, Canada will face a replay of their crucial final round-robin game when they face Russia’s Vlada Rumiantseva in the final. China and Switzerland will play for bronze.
Men’s bronze- and gold-medal games will be on the ice at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, followed by the women’s championship games at 2 p.m. ET. Both gold-medal games will be broadcast on the World Curling Federation’s Youtube channel.
Event information, including news and live scoring, are available at the event website, http://www.worldcurling.org/wjcc2019