Canada's Bottcher suffers first loss at world men's curling championship

·4 min read

CALGARY — An unexpected steal and a force put Canada's Brendan Bottcher in the situation he wanted against Switzerland on Sunday at the BKT Tires & OK Tire World Men's Curling Championship.

Tied with hammer in the extra end, an untimely miss proved costly in his first loss of the competition.

Bottcher was light on his final draw to give up a steal of two as Peter de Cruz pulled out a 6-4 victory at the Markin MacPhail Centre.

"It's a shot I'd like to have more often than not," Bottcher said.

His Edmonton-based team of Darren Moulding, Brad Thiessen and Karrick Martin caught a break when Swiss fourth Benoit Schwarz had his first stone pick in the ninth end.

That shut down hope for a Swiss deuce and Schwarz's angle-raise double attempt to blank was just wide, giving Canada a steal and a 4-3 lead.

Bottcher forced Schwarz to hit for one in the 10th to set things up nicely in the extra end. However, with a stone on the centre line at the top of the four-foot ring, Bottcher had to throw a little wider than usual.

"It's always a little bit of a question mark when you're taking that bit of extra ice," Bottcher said. "Is it going to be a little faster or is it going to be a little bit slower out there?

"At the end of the day I think we knew the right time, I just threw it a little bit light."

Bottcher, who had the lowest percentage of the eight players at 78 per cent, gave up two early steals against De Cruz but pulled even with a deuce in the seventh end.

"I think we could have done a few things better that game but it's a long week," Moulding said. "You're going to make mistakes.

"I don't know if going through this event at 15-0 is a realistic thing either. You take the loss and move on."

Canada bounced back in the afternoon draw with a 7-6 victory over winless Dutch skip Jaap van Dorp.

Moulding said he suffered some minor bruising in the knee area after sliding out of the hack in the fifth end. He stayed in the game and didn't seem bothered by it.

Moulding, who pulled out of last month's mixed doubles playdowns after suffering back spasms, said his back "feels awesome."

With the victory over Canada, de Cruz remained unbeaten at 4-0.

"It was a very good game," he said. "They're a super strong team. Whenever you play Canada in the big events, you know it's the fixture that's going to pop out on the schedule when you look at it.

"We're extremely happy and we're going to enjoy this for a bit."

Italy's Joel Retornaz defeated Germany's Sixten Totzek 9-3 and Sweden's Niklas Edin edged Sergey Glukhov of the Russian Curling Federation 8-7 in an extra end. American John Shuster doubled Japan's Yuta Matsumura 10-5 in the other early game.

In the afternoon, Norway's Steffen Walstad scored three in the 10th end for a 9-8 win over Sweden. Scotland's Bruce Mouat dumped China's Qiang Zou 10-1 and Denmark's Mads Noergaard edged South Korea's Yeong-Seok Jeong 4-3.

Switzerland saw its first loss of the tournament in the evening draw when Shuster and the Americans downed de Cruz 8-6. South Korea chalked up its first win, beating the Netherlands 5-4 while Japan topped Italy 5-2. Glukhov and the Russian Curling Federation beat Germany 6-4 to close out Sunday's play.

Norway (5-0) was the only remaining unbeaten team Sunday night. Canada, the Russian Curling Federation, Scotland, Switzerland and the U.S were next at 4-1.

Italy and Sweden were 3-2 while Denmark and Japan fell to 2-3. South Korea was 1-5 and China (0-5), Germany (0-5) and the Netherlands (0-6) remained winless.

Round-robin play continues through Friday afternoon.

The top two finishers in the 14-team round-robin earn byes to the semifinals on Saturday. Teams sitting third through sixth will compete in qualification games with winners to reach the final four.

Medal games are set for April 11. The top six teams will also earn spots for their respective countries at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Sweden's Edin beat Canada's Kevin Koe in the 2019 world championship final in Lethbridge, Alta. The 2020 event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

No spectators are allowed in the WinSport Arena, which was also the case at the recent Canadian men's, women's and mixed doubles championships.

Two Grand Slams are next on the bubble calendar before the world women's playdowns in late April.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press