Canada’s curling stars spent Thursday morning up against more than just the world.
They battled the ice.
They fought the rocks.
They struggled with themselves.
And they were challenged by the future.
There was, indeed, a lot going on in Canada’s second loss – a 10-6 drop to phenom Korey Dropkin and the Americans – at the 2022 LGT World Men’s Curling Championship.
“It was an uphill battle for us, mostly because of Korea and Team USA’s performance,” Canada skip Brad Gushue told TSN moments after the decision dropped them to 7-2 at the week-long event in Las Vegas.
“I thought they played really well – applied pressure constantly on us – and we just really didn’t have an answer for it. That’s as good as anybody’s played against us this week and arguably this year. I never felt they took the foot off the pedal. I can’t even say any time we had a chance, because I never felt we had a chance, to be honest. “
The Canadians – Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker – simply didn’t have an answer for anything.
After seemingly getting a handle on the ice after early week issues, the rink from Newfoundland’s St. John’s Curling Club became baffled again during the draw against the United States foursome of skip Dropkin, vice-skip Joe Polo, second Mark Fenner and lead Tom Howell.
To boot, a handful of their rocks weren’t showing any kind of curl whatsoever.
And so, they struggled. Walker finished just 79% overall, while the takeout games by both Nichols and Gallant reached just 64% and 63%, respectively.
“The tough part was the change in the ice again – it just straightened out quite a bit from what we’ve seen throughout the week,” Gushue told TSN. “It’s kind of like a box of chocolates right now. We don’t know what we’re going to get.
“But to be honest, I don’t think we managed it as well as we normally do. So that’s something we’ll have to discuss. “
A lot of the game’s discussion revolved around a rare ugly end put up by the Canadians.
In the fifth, USA found its way to a four-ender, blowing open what was already a 3-2 lead for Dropkin’s side from Chaska, Minn. – a rink being hailed as a sure bet in American curling.
While the State-siders made their shots, Gushue & Co. struggled and faced a ton of red rocks in the house. In particular, a thin-double try by Nichols was too thin and left the US with first, second and third shot-stones. And in the end, Dropkin drew in to count four.
Game over – and plenty of frustration for the Canadians, who tried to claw back with deuces in each of the sixth and eighth ends sandwiched around two for the Americans in the seventh.
“Our deliveries are going to be a little straighter than Team USA’s – they’re going to get a lot more curl,” Gushue said. “And then you add those four straight rocks.
“Even when it came time for Mark’s shots, it was hard to know where to put the broom because his rocks were different than what Geoff’s and Brett’s were,” Gushue continued. “They’re not a good set of stones. That’s why the grand slams stopped using them. Just shocked they’re being used at a world championships. They were heavily mismatched when we played with them at the slams.
“We had a great book (on them), but then they changed all the handles on them, so we couldn’t use it. So just a cluster-executive. ”
The result left three teams hot on Canada’s tail – the United States (6-3), Scotland’s Kyle Waddell (6-3) and defending three-time champ Sweden (6-3), skipped by Niklas Edin. Also on three losses is Korea’s Kim Soo-Hyuk (5-3), whom the Canadians lined up against late Thursday (10 pm ET, TSN).
On Friday, Canada faces Scotland in the early draw (noon ET, TSN5) and Denmark’s Tobias Thune (1-8) in the late session (10 pm ET, TSN).
“They’re all important games,” Gushue added. “For us, it’s just a matter of doing what we do. At the end of the week, we’re going to be there – whether we’re first place, second place or third place, I’m not sure yet, but we’ll be there at the end of the week. We just want to make sure we’re playing solid and we get a good feel. “
EJ Harnden got his first taste of these worlds, when Canada’s alternate entered the game at second for Gallant. “We felt the game was a little bit of our reach. We wanted to give him a chance to get out on the ice, ”Gushue said. “We haven’t been very good at controlling games and getting in a situation where we have an easy win. It looked like it was going to be a pretty easy loss, so we got him in there. ” … Other late Thursday games saw: Denmark versus Netherlands’ Wouter Goesgens (2-7); the USA play Sweden; and Italy’s Joel Retornaz (5-4) challenge the Czech Republic’s Lukas Klima (4-6)… In the afternoon, it was: the Czech Republic dumping Finland’s Kalle Kiiskinen (3-7) 10-4; Germany’s Sixten Totzek (5-5) out-score Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell (5-5) 10-6; Sweden thump Scotland 8-2; and Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller (6-4) edge Korea 9-7 ( The other morning scores were: Italy 5, Switzerland 3; Norway 10, Denmark 6; and Netherlands 5, Scotland 4… The top-six teams make the playoffs after the end of the round robin Friday… The Rock rink is chasing its second world title after capturing gold in 2017 Edmonton.