The 2014 World Men's Curling Championship wrapped up on Sunday after a week-long competition in Beijing, China. The final day of competition pitted Canada against Switzerland for the bronze medal and Scandinavian rivals Norway and Sweden for the gold. Below are the full results of the last day of action:
|Bronze Medal||Canada vs. Switzerland||SUI, 7-5|
|Gold Medal||Norway vs. Sweden||NOR, 8-3|
For those who were unable to catch the curling live, here's your one-stop shop for the recap of the two matches, as well as the top performers from each contest.
Norway not only returned to the podium for the first time since 2010, when they finished second to Canada, but they defeated their biggest rivals to claim gold and thwart Sweden's quest for back-to-back championships.
Norway raced out to an early 5-0 lead en route to a dominating 8-3 win. Skip Thomas Ulsrud set the tone with by taking the first point on the first end, then turned the game in the third end with a double take-out on his last stone, allowing Norway to steal to points for a decisive 4-0 lead.
Ulsrud also sealed the game with a nose-hit on his last stone in the eighth end to earn the final two points, bringing the score to its final tally. After the win, Ulsrud told Emily Goddard of InsidetheGames.com that his team's experience allowed them to break through after years of heartbreak:
We've been training so hard for this for so many years, for so many Worlds. I've been close a couple of times but to be called world champion, that sounds amazing. We've been in a lot of championship finals and we've been here before, so experience made the difference I think.
Meanwhile, Swedish skip Oskar Eriksson earned his fourth medal in five years, though not the gold he desired. Eriksson also earned a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics, where he was an alternate on the team that defeated China to reach the Olympic podium.
Norway's victory marks their country's first world title since 1988, when skip Eigil Ramsfjell won the world championships in Switzerland. Ramsfjell was actually in attendance to witness his country's breakthrough, as he was inducted into the World Curling Hall of Fame during the closing ceremonies.
Thus, his presence served as a fitting symbolic succession, as Ulsrud and the rest of the Norwegian team have finally erased over two decades of frustration to forge their own place in Norway's curling history.
It was a stunning fall for Canada, traditionally the world's most dominant curling powerhouse. The Canadians failed to reach the gold-medal game for the first time since 2004, and compounded their disappointing showing by failing to reach the podium for the first time since 2001.
Swiss fourth player Benoit Schwarz came up with a clutch performance. In the first end, Schwarz cleared out two Canadian stones to steal a point for his country. Later on, Schwarz retook a 5-3 lead on the sixth end after his teammates set up a simple draw for him on his second stone.
Most critically, Schwarz hit Canadian skip Kevin Koe's stone out of the button on the ninth end, and Switzerland was able to force Canada out of stones during the 10th end. Per the World Curling Federation, Swiss skip Peter de Cruz expressed elation at the stunning upset:
It feels really awesome. We came into the week thinking we had a chance if we played good. We didn’t start off so well and then we started getting better as we got used to the ice. My guys played an awesome game today. We were really ready for the game and I think that we probably wanted it more than them – that made the difference.
The bronze medal for De Cruz's team marks the continuation of a successful season for his country. Sven Michel led a European title-winning team, while Yannick Schwaller won the men's junior title.
It's not an entirely unsuccessful season for Canada, as both the men and women came away with gold at the Sochi Olympics. However, in an event they have traditionally dominated, failing to reach the podium is simply a failure.