Koe falls to Norway at curling Worlds, will play Sweden in semifinal
Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 04:00 am
BEIJING, China - Going the long road to a gold-medal game is nothing new to Kevin Koe.
The Canadian skip fell 3-2 to Thomas Ulsrud of Norway in Saturday's 1-2 Page playoff game at the world men's curling championship, giving Ulsrud a day of rest before Sunday's gold-medal game, but also giving his own team another shot at the final.
Koe's Calgary rink will be back on the ice later Saturday to take on Sweden's Oskar Eriksson in the semifinal. The winner advances to play Norway, while the loser settles for a berth in the bronze-medal match.
"There's not much of a message to the team," said Koe. "Down to our last life again, and we seem to come up with our best games then. We just have to bounce back and come out and get off to a good start."
Koe was forced to win semifinals in the Alberta championship as well the Tim Hortons Brier en route to Beijing.
The Canadian team — rounded out by third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen, alternate Jamie King, team coach John Dunn and national coach Rick Lang — kept it tight for seven ends against Norway and was trailing 2-1.
But Canada went all out to score multiple points in the eighth and ninth ends, only to let valuable opportunities slip away both times.
In the eighth, Koe rolled out his shooter on an open hit attempt to sit three. That allowed Ulsrud the opportunity to make a tough double takeout through the tightest of ports, and forced Koe to blank the end.
In the ninth, Koe had another huge chance for two or three, but just missed his hit-and-roll with his first shot, and then was light on his draw to bite the button to score two.
"In eight and nine, nine for sure, that was disappointing," said Koe. "I threw my first one good, just screwed up the line call. Eight, I had a bit of a miss, but he came up with a really good shot.
"He made the ones when he needed to and we didn't, so it's disappointing."
Canada will have little time to refocus for a Swedish team that beat Switzerland's Peter de Cruz 5-2 in the 3-4 Page playoff game on Friday night. Sweden beat Canada 6-2 in round-robin play on Wednesday.
"We let (Norway) off the hook, but that's the game," said Thiessen. "You have to stick the knife in when you get the chance, and we didn't. We played a good game, but a fairly tight game so you're going to have limited opportunities to really finish a guy off and we didn't take those chances.
"Now, we just have to put this one behind us and go out and win the semifinal."
Ulsrud will be seeking his first world championship gold medal in 10 appearances at the event. His previous best finishes were bronze medals in 2009, 2008 and 2006, while the rest of his team — Ulsrud had personal commitments and couldn't participate — finished second to Koe at the 2010 World men's championship in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
"That's probably one thing you shouldn't think too much about," said Ulsrud of the chance to win gold. "I'm just really happy we're in the final. We're a pretty easy-going team; we don't get too tense, but obviously it would mean a hell of a lot to me.
"We were really disappointed after the Olympics. We put in a lot of effort this year but a lot of other countries did as well and we ended up fifth, so this is kind of payback for Norway."