Canada tops Scotland in mixed doubles curling

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Joanne Courtney and Reid Carruthers posted an 8-3 victory over Scotland on Friday at the world mixed doubles curling championship to improve Canada’s chances of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Games.

Courtney delivered an open hit for four points in the seventh end and the host side ran Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat out of rocks in the eighth.

“We were calm and focused heading into that game,” said Courtney. “We had a good meeting yesterday and a good practice and we just talked about wanting to use our sweeping as much as we can on all of our shots. A lot of our misses were heavy throughout the week and it worked out well for us today.

“We both felt pretty good about draw weight going into the game and it’s clear what we need to do out there. The more we can just stay loose and totally immersed in the moment, the better it is.”

Courtney, from Edmonton, shot 87 per cent while Carruthers, from Winnipeg, finished at 95 per cent.

Canada can secure an Olympic berth with a quarter-final win over Latvia’s Santa Blumberga and Andris Bremanis on Friday night at the ATB Centre. The unbeaten Latvians advanced with a 6-4 win over Sweden’s Camilla Noreen and Per Noreen.

The combined results of this year’s competition and the 2016 championship will determine the seven teams that will join host South Korea when the discipline makes its Olympic debut. Canada’s Marliese Kasner and Dustin Kalthoff finished fifth last year in Karlstad, Sweden.

In other early games Friday, China’s Rui Wang and Dexin Ba dumped Russia’s Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii 8-3 and South Korea’s Hyeji Jang and Kijeong Lee topped Ireland’s Alison Fyfe and Neil Fyfe 6-3.

Scotland opened the scoring against Canada with a forced single in the first end and Courtney hit an angle-raise tap for a deuce in the second. The teams exchanged singles before Canada stole a single for a 4-2 lead.

Aitken and Bruce Mouat called a power play in the sixth end — where pre-set stones are moved to the side of the sheet instead of on the centre line — but Canada still forced Scotland to a single.

Canada called its power play in the seventh and took advantage. Courtney made a draw behind a corner guard to sit two and Carruthers followed with a hit and roll behind the guard.

Aitken was wide with an attempted freeze and Courtney made the open hit to put the game out of reach.

“I think we were just playing smart, we were managing our misses a little better,” said Carruthers. “We’ve been playing well all week, but just missing the wrong way and it’s been getting us into trouble. This game we didn’t do that a whole lot. We dialled it in.”

The semifinals and final are set for Saturday.

Canada won gold at the men’s and women’s world championships this year but in 10 years of world mixed doubles playdowns, Canada’s lone medal was a bronze in 2009.

If Canada qualifies for the Winter Games in mixed doubles, the national representatives will be determined at an Olympic trials event Jan. 2-7 at a site to be determined.

Curlers who qualify for the Olympics in the four-man or four-woman team events in December will not be allowed to represent Canada in mixed doubles.

The Canadian Press

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