Canada tops Scotland to qualify for 1-2 Page Playoff at curling worlds
BEIJING — Canada’s Kevin Koe swept his games Thursday to qualify for the 1-2 Page Playoff game at the world men’s curling championship.
Koe and his Calgary-based team opened with an 11-5 win over Germany’s John Jahr at Capital Gymnasium and then locked up second place with a 7-5 victory over Scotland’s Ewan MacDonald.
“We woke up today just worried about making sure that we made the playoffs,” Koe said. “We lose that game and we could be in a tiebreaker or something. The big thing was just to win and get in the playoffs and if we were in the 3-4 game, that was fine with us. We’ve done it before.
“But to get in the 1-2 game with an extra life, that’s a bonus for sure.”
The winner of Saturday’s 1-2 game will advance straight to Sunday’s final. The loser will play the winner of the 3-4 Page Playoff game in the semifinal.
The semifinal winner will play for gold and the loser will fall into the bronze-medal game against the 3-4 loser.
Koe built a big early lead in the opening game after German fourth Felix Schulze crashed his last stone on a guard in the second end. That gave Canada a steal of four and Koe added four more points in the fourth end to put the game out of reach.
In the afternoon draw, Scotland was out of playoff contention but still gave Koe a tough test. The veteran skip took the lead for the first time in the sixth end with a draw for two points.
He sealed the win with a runback double takeout in the 10th end.
“It seems like all of our games, either we’ve won easy or lost easy,” Koe said. “So it’s good for us to have a battle, tied up or close the whole way through, and to pull it out with a shot in the 10th feels good.”
Norway (10-1) closed with a 7-6 extra-end victory over Switzerland’s Peter De Cruz.
“Now we’ve got two chances to go to the final,” Ulsrud said. “I’ve never been world champion, so that’s my dream.”
The Swiss team rebounded for an 8-5 win over the United States in the evening draw to earn the third seed with a 7-4 record. Sweden and Japan also finished at 7-4 and will play a tiebreaker for the other spot in the 3-4 game.
The Czech Republic and host China were tied in sixth place at 6-5. Germany was next at 5-6, followed by the United States and Scotland at 3-8. Russia and Denmark were tied for last place at 2-9.
Jahr announced his retirement after his German rink closed with a 10-3 rout of Scotland.
Koe won gold in his lone previous appearance at this event, taking top spot at the 2010 playdowns in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Ulsrud, who beat Koe 9-5 earlier this week, is hoping to win Norway’s first world men’s gold since 1998.
“I like where we are considering how hard we’ve had to battle,” Koe said. “We haven’t always been at our best. If we can find our ’A’ game in the playoffs, I like our chances. And even if we keep playing the way we are, we’re kind of used to it. I’m looking forward (to Saturday).
“They’re a great team and obviously they’ve had a great week. I don’t think the first time we played them that the score was indicative of the way the game was played, just a couple of missed line calls and it could have been anybody’s game.
“But I like our chances.”
Canada has won gold at this event in three of the last four years and has qualified for the championship game in each of the last nine years.