Off to the final 8!

Canadian skip Paul Flemming and his team have enjoyed success en route to a perfect record so far at the 2024 World Seniors. (Photo, World Curling/Céline Stucki)

Canadian teams ready for quarterfinals at World Senior Championships

OESTERSUND, Sweden — There’s more work to be done, but both Canadian teams are feeling good about where they’re at heading into the playoffs at the 2024 World Senior Curling Championships.

Paul Flemming’s Canadian men’s team from Halifax and Susan Froud’s women’s team from Alliston, Ont., both finished first in their respective round-robin pools and will have last-rock advantage guaranteed for at least the first round of the single-knockout playoffs as they look to defend the gold medals won by Team Howard Rajala of Ottawa and Team Sherry Anderson of Saskatoon 12 months ago in Gangneung, South Korea.

Team Flemming was a 14-0 winner over Croatia’s Team Alberto Skendrovic (2-3) on Wednesday to improve to 5-0 and lock up first place with one round-robin game left to play — Thursday at 7 a.m. (all times Eastern) against Denmark’s Team Mikael Qvist (3-2).

Team Canada alternate Kevin Ouellette delivers a stone during action on Wednesday. (Photo, Curling Canada)

Team Froud, meanwhile, rolled to a 12-2 victory over Norway’s Team Ellen Storvik (1-4) to complete round-robin play, and will play its quarterfinal (opponent TBC) Thursday at 1 p.m.

Flemming, with vice-skip Peter Burgess, second Martin Gavin, lead Kris Granchelli and alternate Kevin Ouellette looked sharp against Croatia. In an early morning draw, the Canadians looked wide awake from the start, taking three in the first end and then cruising home with steals of one in the second, deuces in the third, fifth and sixth ends and four in the fourth.

The lopsided score allowed Canada to bring Ouellette in from the bench after the fourth-end break, giving him his first action of these World Seniors.

“It was nice to get Cheffy in there for a couple ends,” said Flemming — Ouellette earned that nickname from his career as a chef at CFB Halifax (he also serves as the High Performance Coach for the Nova Scotia Curling Association).

After closing out the round robin on Thursday, the Canadian men will take on an undetermined opponent in quarterfinal play Friday at 7 a.m. It will be reminiscent of their situation at the Everest Canadian Seniors in December in Vernon, B.C., where their last round-robin game was essentially a quarterfinal — had they lost it, they would not have made the playoffs. They won, however, and added two more in the playoffs to earn their trip to Sweden.

“We can draw on that experience, for sure,” said Fleming. “We’re just going to try to pick up where we left off. I mean, it was it was do or die — it’s either win or go home. There’s no second chances now.”

The top two teams in each of the four men’s round-robin pools will reach the playoffs.

Canada’s Julie McMullin, left, and Kristin Turcotte sweep a stone. (Photo, World Curling/Céline Stucki)

Meanwhile, Froud, vice-skip Kerry Lackie, second Kristin Turcotte, lead Julie McMullin, alternate Jo-Ann Rizzo and coach Al Corbeil were in cruise control for their playoff tune-up game against Croatia.

Canada scored four in the first end and added five more in the third and were never threatened from there.

But now the real work begins as Canada heads into the quarterfinals on even terms with seven other teams starting from scratch.

“It’s one game at a time now; just a little one-game bonspiel every day,” said Froud with a smile. “We were a little shaky at the start of the event and we’ve kind of just been building, and that’s kind of what we did in in Vernon. So we just need to keep that roll going.”

The eight-team playoff field for the women will comprise the top two teams from each of the three round-robin pools, along with the two third-place teams with the best Last-Shot Draw totals.

The men’s and women’s semifinals will take place Friday at 1 p.m., with the gold- and bronze-medal games Saturday at 4:30 a.m.

But Froud isn’t looking behind the task at hand: Thursday’s quarterfinal.

“We’re just going to keep focused on the process,” she said. “We’re not thinking too far ahead. Not thinking about the outcome. Just process, not outcome.”

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Curling Canada