LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Canada’s Kevin Koe, who had produced magic all weekend long, couldn’t conjure up one last “Koedini” to prevent Sweden’s Niklas Edin from tying a record with his fourth world title at the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Service Experts, Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing.
Sweden defeated Canada 7-2 to defend its crown and allow Edin a spot in curling history. The win ties him with Saskatchewan legend Ernie Richardson for most by a skip. For his part, Koe was attempting to capture his third world crown in his fourth try, although this one was the first in Canada.
For Edin, who broke a 2-2 tie with steals of two in the eighth and three in the ninth, the back-to-back titles doesn’t make up for losing the 2018 Olympic final but still called it “probably the sweetest win of my career.”
“It feels amazing,” said Edin, who was supported by third Oskar Eriksson, second Rasmus Wranå, lead Chrisoffer Sundgren, alternate Daniel Magnusson, coach Fredrik Lindberg and national coach Peja Lindholm. “Probably the best one (of the four wins). I almost started crying after the win, actually. It felt really special, this one — we played so well this whole week.
“Really had the same feeling as the Olympic final. We played so well that week, too, and it didn’t go our way. This time it kind of felt like it was going that same route, and in the eighth end, we got a really good end together. Obviously with the steal of two, we knew we were going to have a really good chance to win. Even so, when that last rock stopped and we knew it was a win, it felt amazing.”
Most of the game was a chess match. Koe made a double in the sixth to lie three forcing Edin to draw for a single and a 2-2 tie. In the seventh, Koe made another double, this time to blank the end. It was Edin’s turn to make a double with his last shot in the eighth to lie three. Koe had to draw the edge of the button to get a single, but came up short and gave up two giving Sweden a 4-2 lead.
Sweden continued to make life miserable for Canada in the ninth end with Koe facing four on his final throw. His high velocity takeout, like the one that powered Canada past Switzerland in the semifinals, wasn’t good enough this time, though, giving Sweden a steal of three and the game.
“Obviously, we kind of lost some of the control. Tied up with hammer playing eight, that’s a good spot to be in, and we didn’t play a good end, obviously, and that’s what cost us,” said Koe. “It sucks. We wanted to win this so badly and it’s very disappointing. We’re pretty deflated. After the eighth we felt terrible – a steal of two was disappointing. It’s unfortunate, but they’re a great team.
“The support has been awesome, it’s just a pity that we couldn’t win it for (the hometown crowd).”
Despite the disappointment the season as a whole was a good one for Koe, third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Flasch, lead Ben Hebert, alternate Ted Appelman, coach John Dunn and national coach Jeff Stoughton.
“Win the Brier and second in the world championship — you can only ask for one more thing, right? That’s to win that game. But second best this year — it’s a pretty good accomplishment for this team, but it’s hard to put it in perspective right now. We really wanted to win this, and it’s a little deflating the way it all ended,” said Koe.
Neufeld was trying to one-up his father, Chris who played in the 1992 world championships on a team skipped by Vic Peters that lost in the semifinals, by winning a world title.
“You don’t get these opportunities very often,” said Neufeld, who joined Koe’s team this season. “For me it was my first opportunity. You hope to have more, but it’s a tough road to to get to this point. You never know if you get a chance to come back.
“It was a great week for us. I’m super proud of the boys. We hung in there in games, Kevin made some spectacular shots to steal games and it was a good run. These teams are all so good and you’ve got to be at your best every single game otherwise it’s hard to come out on top. It was a bit of a gauntlet and we just fell one short.”
Like Koe, Hebert was seeking his third world title having won once before with Koe (206) and previously with Kevin Martin (2008).
“(Sweden) played good, they deserved to win. It’s been a really good year for us. I’m not too disappointed (being) a first-year team,” said Hebert. “A lot to improve on, but second place at the world championships feels good. We’re going to hang our heads high and hopefully try and come back and it gives us something for us to work for next year.”
Koe’s team will be Team Canada at the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, in Kingston, Ont., to determine who will wear the Maple Leaf at the 2020 LGT World Men’s Curling Championship, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from March 28 to April 5, 2020.
South Korean skip SooHyuk Kim won the World Curling Federation’s Collie Campbell Memorial Award, named after a former WCF president from Canada, that goes to the player selected by his fellow competitors who demonstrates “gentlemanly skill, fair play and sportsmanship.”
This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2019worldmen/?lang=fr