Canada’s Brad Gushue beats Turkey, Sweden at world men’s curling championship
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OTTAWA – Brad Gushue’s busy start to round-robin play was bookended by a run of split shifts at the world men’s curling championship.
His Canadian team fought through the inconsistent timing to qualify for the playoffs at TD Place. The St. John’s, N.L.-based side will enter weekend play on a roll after a pair of victories Friday.
“When I looked at our schedule it was kind of, ‘Who did I piss off at the World Curling Federation?’,” Gushue joked. “We started off (playing) four of the first five draws and then we finished with mornings and nights for three days in a row.
“I was like, ‘Whoa, this is tough.'”
Gushue, vice Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden and lead Geoff Walker tuned up for the playoffs on Friday morning with a 9-5 victory over Turkey’s Ugurcan Karagoz.
Canada (9-3) wrapped up its round-robin schedule in the evening with an 8-5 win over defending champ Niklas Edin of Sweden (9-3) in a rematch of last year’s final.
Gushue scored four points in the fifth end and made a hit for three in the seventh that essentially put it away. The near-sellout partisan crowd roared its approval at every opportunity.
The teams will square off again Saturday in a qualification game. Gushue will have hammer as the No. 4 seed.
“We haven’t necessarily played our game yet this week,” Gushue said. “So hopefully we’re saving it up for the weekend.”
Top-seeded Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland (11-1) and No. 2 Bruce Mouat of Scotland (10-2) earned direct berths to the semifinals.
Italy’s Joel Retornaz (8-4) secured the sixth and final seed Friday morning with a 12-5 win over Japan’s Riku Yanagisawa. Italy will face No. 3 Magnus Ramsfjell of Norway (10-2) in the other qualification game.
The qualification winners will advance to the semifinals. Medal games are scheduled for Sunday.
The Turkish side — which made its world men’s debut — hung with the host team for a few ends before Gushue pulled away by scoring four points in the fifth end.
After a seventh-end deuce put the game out of reach, Canadian alternate Ryan Harnden came in to make a couple throws. Turkey conceded after scoring a single in the eighth.
Gushue has taken on top contenders in showcase evening games when viewership numbers are highest. He played Italy and Norway on the first two nights and took on the U.S., Scotland and Sweden over the last three evenings.
The World Curling Federation uses a numbered draw for the event. The “host committee and local broadcasters have a say in the final draw,” a WCF media officer said in an email.
Gushue said his team has made some execution and technical errors at times throughout the week.
“It has been a challenge for us and it has showed a few of the areas that we need to work on going forward,” he said. “But there’s still opportunity. And even with some of the things that we’re seeing, we’re still capable of winning.
“We’ve just got to make our shots and zero in and eliminate those big misses.”
Non-playoff teams included Japan (5-7), the United States (5-7), Germany (4-8), the Czech Republic (3-9), Turkey (2-10), New Zealand (1-11) and South Korea (1-11).
Gushue’s lone world title came in 2017 at Edmonton. Edin, the reigning Olympic champion, has won four straight world titles and six overall.
Kerri Einarson skipped Canada to a bronze medal at the women’s world curling championship last month in Sandviken, Sweden.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2023.
Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.