Inches short against Italy

Canada’s Brad Gushue shakes hands with Italian skip Joel Retornaz following an extra-end loss at the 2024 LGT World Men’s Curling Championship. (Photo, Curling Canada/Steve Seixeiro)

Top-ranked Italians best Canada at the 2024 world men’s championship

SCHAFFHAUSEN, SWITZERLAND — The top-ranked team in the world, Italy’s Team Joel Retornaz, served Canada’s Team Brad Gushue its first loss at the 2024 LGT World Men’s Curling Championship.

Italy (3-1) earned the 7-6 extra-end win at IWC Arena on Monday with an open draw to the four-foot against two Canadian counters on the sides of the eight-foot. The loss puts the Canadian team from St. John’s, N.L., on even ground in the standings with Italy at three wins and one loss. 

Skip Gushue, vice-skip Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Kyle Doering, coach Caleb Flaxey, and national coach Jeff Stoughton fell behind early and, despite battling back into the game, couldn’t finish on a high note. 

The Italians were the first on the board after Canada made an error in the second end. Team Gushue was heavy on a freeze attempt and settled in the back 12-foot, which led to Team Retornaz capturing the conversion with a draw for two.

In the third, Canadian skip Gushue was light on his first draw. However, he was flawless on the second. Gushue covered the pin without a lick of help from sweepers Harnden and Walker. While it was a force on the scoreboard, it gave Gushue the confidence needed for the remainder of the game as the Canadians attempted to wrestle the hammer back.

“I’m disappointed. For me personally, I missed a couple of shots early that caused that swing of the two [points given up] and the one [point scored]. In the third, we had a mini-opportunity to get the deuce back, and it came up light,” Gushue said. “I was struggling with my rocks in the first half, so I switched them out and took Geoff’s and once I got his it was a much different feel. One of my rocks was curling more than the other; it was fooling me and not allowing me to trust where I was putting the broom.”

Team Italy addresses the crowd following the win. From left, Sebastiano Arman, Joel Retornaz, Amos Mosaner and Mattia Giovanella. (Photo, Curling Canada/Steve Seixeiro)

The teams forced each other over the next three ends and Canada continued applying pressure to the Italians by stealing one in the sixth. Italy missed an array of runbacks, allowing Canada to cluster three stones in the four-foot. Italy opted to double out two and concede one point, which tied the game at three apiece. 

Canada had a chance for three – and the win – in the 10th end. Team Gushue needed a nose hit on a cluster of stones in the four-foot, but it rolled too far away and exposed a double for Italy. Retornaz made it, leaving Team Gushue with a draw for two and the tie. 

“We just overswept my first rock. If we hit that on the nose, we’re going to lie three, they’ll be buried, and he would have had to play a runback double just to cut us down to two. It was a little unfortunate and just a bit of a panic sweep and over-sweep and left Joel an easy double. We still got two, which is tough against those guys, but there was a three there.”

Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin (5-0) earned its second win of the day and now leads the standings as the lone undefeated team in the field after stealing a 10-8 extra-end win against Norway’s Team Magnus Ramsfjell (1-3). Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat (4-1) took possession of second place in the standings after romping New Zealand’s Team Anton Hood (0-4) during an 8-2 six-end win. Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller (2-2) evened its record in front of its home nation after wrapping up an 8-5 win against Team Wouter Goesgens of the Netherlands (1-3)

Canada starts the first of four two-game days on Tuesday. First, Team Gushue takes on New Zealand at 3 a.m. (all times ET), followed by a game against the United States at 1 p.m.

After the round-robin wraps up Friday evening, the third through sixth-ranked teams compete in playoff qualification games (3 vs. 6; 4 vs. 5), with the winners advancing to the semifinals. The semifinal winners play in the gold-medal game, and the losers play for the bronze. 

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The French version of this story will be posted as soon as possible here.

Curling Canada