After an upset at the hands of Sweden’s Niklas Edin, Edmonton’s Kevin Martin made quick work of Brad Jacobs on Friday and powered his way into the playoff round of the Grey Power World Cup of Curling in Windsor, Ont.
The 2010 Olympic champion scored three points in the second end and added a steal in the fifth for a 5-1 lead en route to a 5-3 win over Jacobs, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Jacobs scored two in the sixth frame but couldn’t get any closer.
In other matches, four-time defending champion Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., bounced back from two straight losses to post a 6-4 win over Edmonton’s Ted Appelman (0-5) and Rob Fowler of Brandon, Man., downed Olympic silver medallist Thomas Ulsrud of Norway 7-2.
Curling on CBC
CBC and CBCSports.ca will air the World Cup of Curling quarter-finals live on Nov. 6 starting at 3 p.m. ET.
The semifinals will be on CBCSports.ca and CBC Bold starting at 7 p.m. ET.
On Nov. 7, the final will be live on CBC and CBCSports.ca at 1 p.m. ET.
One sheet over, Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton finished at 5-0 with a 4-3 win over city rival and ex-teammate Kevin Park (2-3) while a battle of Ontario Curling Tour squads saw Harriston’s Jake Higgs bounce winless Dale Matchett of Bradford 9-2.
By the time the final round-robin draw started there were tiebreakers in the picture. A total of three matches will be required on Saturday morning to finalize the playoff picture.
World champion Kevin Koe of Edmonton will battle Toronto’s Wayne Middaugh; Pat Simmons of Davidson, Sask., will meet Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., and Ulsrud will challenge Mike McEwen of Winnipeg. All eight teams finished tied with 3-2 records.
Joining Stoughton in the quarter-finals is Martin and Fowler (both 4-1). Edin and Glenn Howard both finished in the pack at 3-2 but qualified directly for the playoffs thanks to their shootout records.
In the mid-afternoon Friday draw, Martin missed a tricky double-runback for two points and the win on the final shot of his match against Edin and took a 7-4 loss.
“This was our first win, even the first close game, against Martin, in about three or four games,” said Edin, who lost the Olympic semifinal to Martin and then the bronze-medal match to Switzerland in Vancouver last February.
“To be honest we tried something very different this time, just to keep things really, really simple. The last few times we’ve tried to play their game and it hasn’t worked. We tried to figure something out to get a close game, and get it to the finish line this time, and it worked.”
Martin, nicknamed the “Old Bear” years ago by now-current teammate John Morris, stomped off the ice after the match and left his protege to deal with the media.
“We were struggling with the ice there a little bit,” said Morris. “It wasn’t our best game, that’s for sure. Kevin must have played about 70 per cent… and 70 is not going to win you many wins, unless you’re playing in the Friday night mixed league.”
Ulsrud reacted with a smile when reminded that Edin’s team was only formed 18 months before the Vancouver Olympics, and was originally targetting the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games to make an impact.
“I picked those guys second behind Canada (Martin) going into Vancouver as the teams to watch out for,” Ulsrud said.
“They’re also the defending European champions, so as a European team it’s always great to see them doing well here in Canada.”
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After making headlines for joining the Russian Curling Federation (RCF) in April, Team Gunnlaugson’s contract has been terminated just weeks after they won the Russian nationals.
The reasons given for terminating the deal “were not 100% certain,” said Gunnlaugson, but that it could have been a reversal of political plans for the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games to be hosted in Sochi, Russia. When Jason Gunnlaugson, along with Justin Richter and Tyler Forrest signed on they were to be funded as pro curlers in an attempt to put Russians on the podium in 2014.
In order for them to compete in the upcoming European Championships, their Russian citizenship had to be in place. However as the deadline approached their citizenship was not granted and this gave the RCF the opportunity to change their mind on the young men from Manitoba.
The severing of the relationship between Team Gunnlaugson and RCF came just a few weeks after Gunnlaugson’s rink won the Russian Curling Cup, the national championship. Completing the team that competed at nationals was Russian born curlers, Alexey Stukalskiy and Alexander Kozyrev.
Heading into the championship, there was enormous pressure placed on the team. Gunnlaugson said, “Winning was so important.” In fact, he noted that winning the final was not only a relief and joy, but was “so moving to win a nationals and wonderful for their Russian teammates to win.”
This was the last event as Russian pro curlers for Forrest, Richter and Gunnlaugson. Speculation is that Stukalskiy and Kozyrev will join skip Andrey Drozdov at the European Championships in Champery, Switzerland beginning December 3rd. This is the first step for European countries to earn points towards qualifying for World Championships and the Olympic Winter Games. Russia, as the host country, already has a berth.
As for Gunnlaugson and company, it is too early to know where they go from here. They will take time to re-evaluate life and their curling future. For the sake of curling fans, let’s hope these guys are back in the fold soon and wreaking havoc in the talented curling province of Manitoba.