There will be a new champion at this year’s world men’s curling championship. And Canada’s Brad Gushue has a chance to reach the top of the podium.
Gushue whipped four-time defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden 9-1 on Saturday before locking up a spot in the title game with a 7-5 semifinal victory over Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller.
“I think that might have been our best game all week as a team,” Gushue said. “But we’ve struggled this week. So to get to a final, I think we’re pretty fortunate.
“We’ve just got to go out and play like we did today.”
Gushue will play Scotland’s Bruce Mouat for gold. Mouat drew the four-foot ring in an extra end for a 9-8 victory over Italy’s Joel Retornaz in the other semifinal.
The Canadians were mediocre at times during round-robin play but seem to be peaking at the right time.
Gushue topped Edin on Friday night to secure hammer in their qualification game and then picked up where he left off against the Swede.
“That certainly went a little more lopsided than we anticipated today,” Gushue said. “But we were making some more shots and I think they felt a little bit of urgency to push a little harder than they probably needed to.
“It created some opportunities for us.”
Buoyed by a lively partisan crowd at TD Place, Gushue and teammates Mark Nichols, E.J. Harnden and Geoff Walker were in strong form against a confident Swiss side.
The teams exchanged singles for six ends until Gushue made a hit for a deuce in the seventh. Swiss fourth Benoit Schwarz answered with a pair and Canada blanked the ninth end.
Tied with hammer coming home, Gushue made a short raise to force Schwarz to draw inside the shot stone on the four-foot. The Swiss rock was heavy, giving Canada the win.
“It just seemed like we couldn’t pull away even though we were playing so well,” Gushue said. “But we got the win.”
Switzerland earned a bye to the final four after leading the 13-team field in round-robin play at 11-1. Canada was seeded fourth at 9-3.
Scotland picked up the other direct semifinal berth as the No. 2 seed. Italy dispatched Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell 8-4 in the other qualification game.
Gushue score two in the opening end against Edin, forced him to one, and blanked two ends before making an error in the fifth.
The St. John’s, N.L., skip caught a stone thick on a blank attempt to boost the lead to 3-1. Sweden had a shot for three in the sixth end but Edin rubbed his own stone and gave up a steal.
A desperation runback-triple in the seventh was wide, giving Gushue three more stolen points.
“The crowd energy continued today and getting off to that start of a two in the first end I think freed us up a little bit,” Gushue said.
Edin, the reigning Olympic champion, has won six world men’s titles over his career. He beat Gushue in last year’s final at Las Vegas.
“We can’t be too disappointed,” Edin said. “We’ve had a few really good years. A lot of them actually.”
Italy and Switzerland will play for bronze on Sunday morning. The final is scheduled for the afternoon.
Gushue has settled for silver in his last two appearances at this competition. The 2006 Olympic champion won his lone world title in 2017 at Edmonton.
Kerri Einarson skipped Canada to a bronze medal at last month’s world women’s curling championship in Sandviken, Sweden.
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press