This year’s World Men’s Curling Championships will produce a new champion. Canada’s Brad Gushue had a chance to take the podium.
On Saturday, Gushue beat four-time defending champion Sweden’s Niklas Edin 9-1 and then defeated Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller 7-5 in the semifinals to seal his place in the title race.
“I think it was probably our best game as a team all week,” Gushue said. “But we’ve been struggling this week. So to be in the final, I think we’ve been very lucky.
“We have to hang out like we did today.”
Gushue will battle Scotland’s Bruce Mouat for gold. Mouat scored a four-foot ring in overtime to beat Italy’s Joel Retornaz 9-8 in the other semifinal.
The Canadian was at times underwhelming in the round robin but seemed to peak at the right time.
Gushue beat Edin on Friday night to take the hammer in their qualifying round before moving on in his game against the Swede.
“It’s definitely more unbalanced than we expected today,” Gushue said. “But we’re throwing more balls and I think they feel a little bit of an urgency and need to work harder than they probably need to.
“It created some opportunities for us.”
Buoyed by the lively partisan crowd at TD Place, Gushue and teammates Mark Nichols, EJ Harnden and Geoff Walker put in a solid performance against a confident Swiss team.
The teams fought each other for six innings until Gushu hit a tie in the seventh. Swiss No. 4 Benoit Schwarz responded with a pair and Canada closed in the ninth.
Tied home with the hammers, Gushue made a short raise that forced Schwarz to pull in a shot from four feet. The rocks in Switzerland are heavy, allowing Canada to win.
“Even though we played well, it seemed like we couldn’t get away,” Guxue said. “But we won.”
The Swiss lead 13 teams 11-1 in the round robin, bidding farewell to the semi-finals. Team Canada finished fourth 9-3.
Scotland secured another direct spot in the semi-finals as the second seed. Italy beat Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell 8-4 in another qualifying match.
Gushue opened the game against Edin with two runs, forced him to score one and filled both ends before a fifth inning error.
The St. John’s, NL, skip extended their lead to 3-1 on a blank attempt. Sweden scored a three-pointer in the sixth, but Edin gave up a steal by rubbing his own stone.
A desperate triple hit wide in the seventh inning gave Gushue three stolen runs.
“The energy of the crowd continued today, and I think it was a relief to start the two-man game in Game 1,” Gushue said.
Defending Olympic champion Edin has won six men’s world titles in his career. He defeated Gushue in the final in Las Vegas last year.
“We couldn’t be too disappointed,” Edin said. “We’ve had a really good couple of years. A lot, actually.”
Italy and Switzerland will battle it out for bronze on Sunday morning. The final is scheduled for the afternoon.
Gushu has won silver medals in his last two participations in this competition. The 2006 Olympic champion won his only world title in Edmonton in 2017.
Kerri Einarson skipped Canada for bronze at last month’s Women’s World Championships in Sandviken, Sweden.
The Canadian Press Gregory Strong
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