Canadian Sweep!

Canadian vice-skip Kerry Lackie, right, looks over the shoulder of Team Finland vice-skip Riikka Louhivuori during Saturday’s game. (Photos, Curling Canada)

Team Flemming, Team Froud claim opening wins at World Seniors

OESTERSUND, Sweden — Canada’s quest for repeat women’s and men’s gold medals at the World Senior Curling Championships got off to a perfect start Saturday at the Oestersund Arena.

Paul Flemming’s men’s team from Halifax stole the winning point in the eighth and final end to eke out a 5-4 triumph over Norway’s Team Flemming Davanger (1-1), while earlier in the day, Team Susan Froud of Alliston, Ont., hung on for an 8-6 win over Team Tiina Julkunen of Finland (0-1).

Flemming, backed up by vice-skip Peter Burgess, second Martin Gavin, lead Kris Granchelli, and alternate Kevin Ouellette, had taken a 1-0 lead after a steal in the first end, but spent much of the game from there chasing the Norwegians, who were able to generate a pair of stolen points themselves to take a 4-2 lead through six ends.

From left, Peter Burgess, Martin Gavin and Kris Granchelli acknowledge Paul Flemming’s draw for two in the seventh end.

Flemming, though, would generate a classic skip’s deuce in the seventh to tie it — his first shot was a delicate nose hit through a port to sit frozen at the back of the button. After Norway guarded the port in an attempt to hold Canada to a single, Flemming took a wide path to make a wonderful outturn draw to the side of the four-foot to tie it up.

And in the eighth, Canada was able to get a couple of guards up and a sit shot rock at the back of the button, and managed to protect it to the end as Davanger’s last-gasp attempt to navigate a tight port wrecked on the guards.

“It didn’t seem like we had much going with the hammer,” said Flemming. “We were playing really well without the hammer but we had a hard time getting things going with the hammer and they played well. It just seemed like we couldn’t really get those rocks set up to get that deuce when we needed to (until the seventh end). But we knew it was going to be tough game because they already played one game today. So, to walk away from that with a ‘W’ we’re pretty happy to say the least.”

Both Canadian teams are making their world championship debuts, and for Flemming — a former Brier runner-up — the chance to put on a Maple Leaf jacket was something he won’t soon forget.

“Very cool,” he said with a smile. “When that gear showed up in Halifax a couple weeks ago, I had a little moment by myself looking in the mirror. I wasn’t sure if it was ever gonna happen. So this is pretty sweet. I 

The Canadian men are back in action Sunday at 6 a.m. ET against Team Andrew Tanner of Wales (0-1).

Meanwhile, Froud, with vice-skip Kerry Lackie, second Kristin Turcotte, lead Julie McMullin, alternate Jo-Ann Rizzo and coach Al Corbeil had to spend much of the second half of their game against the Finns in defence mode.

The Canadians roared out of the gates to take a 5-0 lead through two ends — a steal of four in the second coming as the result of Julkunen throwing her last-rock takeout to score two a few inches tight of the broom, and removing their existing counter and rolling out the shooter to produce a six-point swing.

But the Finns didn’t quit and managed to cut the Canadian lead to 5-4 through five ends, scoring singles in the third and fifth ends, sandwiched around a stolen pair in the fourth.

Froud, though, settled things down by making a crucial draw for two in the sixth to effectively end the Finnish threat.

Susan Froud delivers her shot during action on Saturday.

“Yeah, it was nice to get back some control there and then just bring it home,” said Froud. “It boosted our confidence, for sure. It was a little shaky at times. So it was nice to get that draw-weight feel and get the broom in the right spot.”

Like Flemming, the sensation of wearing Canadian colours on the world stage has taken some getting used to for Froud and her team.

“You try not to think of it, I guess, but it does feel weird, seeing the (scoreboard) sign there that says Canada,” she said. “So it makes you a little nervous and expectations are high. But we’re ust trying to just try to stay with the process, and just go out and play.”

Canada returns to the ice Sunday at 2 a.m. ET against Lithuania’s Team Virginija Paulauskaite.

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