Opening day at Lake Placid!

The Canadian men, represented by Team Owen Purcell of Dalhousie University in Halifax, succumbed to Switzerland’s Team Jan Iseli 7-4 during the evening draw. (Photo, U SPORTS/Stéphane Jobin)

Canadian men’s and women’s curling teams fall short on opening day of 2023 FISU Games

SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. — The Canadian men’s and women’s curling teams opened the 2023 FISU World University Games with losses on Friday’s first day of competition.

It wasn’t the way either team wished to start the 2023 Lake Placid Games, but there was still plenty of optimism amongst the two Canadian skips competing at Saranac Lake Civic Centre. 

The Canadian men, represented by Team Owen Purcell of Dalhousie University in Halifax, succumbed to Switzerland’s Team Jan Iseli 7-4 during the evening draw. 

Trailing by three in the eighth end, Canada did its best to freeze a combination of its yellow stones into place, but Iseli had a shot on his last to mathematically eliminate Canada from achieving a win. 

Skip Purcell, vice-skip Jeff Meagher, second Adam McEachren, lead David McCurdy, alternate Caelan McPherson (who played lead for this game in replace of McCurdy), coach Anthony Purcell and team lead Helen Radford, started the game trailing but picked up momentum in the middle ends. At the halfway point of the game, Canada scored three and led the game. Switzerland battled back by blanking the fifth end, scoring three of its own in the sixth and stealing a single point in the seventh.

“I thought that the game was pretty well played from both teams. They came off really hot from the beginning of the game and I found that we actually struggled a little bit early on. But then we started to get our footing a little bit, get our feet under us. We had a couple of bad misses in the end they got their three and had one more chance there in seven to get the momentum back but didn’t quite make that,” Purcell said.

The Canadian women’s curling team faced a tough test in South Korea on Friday at the 2023 Lake Placid Games. (Photo, U SPORTS/Clare Webb)

Purcell and his team arrived at Lake Placid on Wednesday and eagerly awaited their first game of the event nearly three days later. After experiencing the pomp and circumstance of an opening Team Canada reception and opening ceremony, the team was ready to throw its first rocks at the event.

“It’s definitely been a lot of waiting, but we’re really excited to actually be here and get to play the games now. The atmosphere is amazing, the arena is fantastic and the ice is awesome. The fans make it just so nice because it’s been so long since we’ve been able to play with fans,” Purcell said.

The men’s and women’s draws featured hearty crowds cheering for the 20 student-athlete teams representing 13 nations.

Canada’s men’s curling team is back on the ice Saturday for one game. Canada faces Team David Jakl of the Czech Republic (1-0) at 2 p.m. (all times ET).

On the women’s side, Canada’s Team Abby Marks of the University of Alberta had a chance to extend its game to an extra end against a formidable opponent. The missed shot in the eighth and final end cost the team its opportunity to continue the game and provided South Korea’s Team Seungyoun Ha with a 6-5 win against Canada.

Team Marks had a chance to score two and tie the game in the last end on a down-weight hit for two. The shot was heavy and couldn’t be brought back onto the line by the sweepers, resulting in a score of one and a Canadian loss. 

“I think the team definitely played really well. I just need to kind of get it together a little bit more,” Marks said after the game. “I’m happy with our start and I think we can only go up from there.”

“We knew [South Korea] were going to be a really strong team and hopefully we get to play them again.”

There was no question that the opening game would be challenging for skip Marks, vice-skip Catherine Clifford, second Brianna Cullen, lead Paige Papley, alternate Serena Gray-Withers, coach Amanda St. Laurent and team lead Radford. 

The South Korean team competing at Lake Placid is the same one to earn a silver medal at the 2022 Pan Continental Curling Championships – the event that determined which teams would compete at the upcoming world women’s curling championship – earlier this season. Team Ha outlasted many of the top women’s teams in the world, including Canada’s Kerri Einarson.

Three members of the South Korean team also earned a bronze medal at the 2019 world women’s championship.

After forcing South Korea to one in the opening end, Canada scored two in the second on a draw for its only game lead. A string of South Korean scores over the next three ends caused issues for Canada. South Korea scored two in the third and padded its lead with back-to-back steals of one in the fourth and fifth ends.

Team Marks made a hit for two in the sixth and forced South Korea to one in the seventh, which provided the Canadians with an opportunity to tie the game in the final end. 

The Canadian women have two games on Saturday. At 9 a.m. Canada takes on the home team, Team Delaney Strouse of the United States (1-0), followed by Japan’s Team Sae Yamamoto (1-0) at 7 p.m.

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2023 FISU World University Games are available by clicking here.

TSN will broadcast select curling games. Click here for the full schedule.

This story will be available in French as soon as possible here.

Curling Canada