No way, Norway

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

REGINA — Most observers believed it would be Canada and Norway in Sunday’s final of the world men’s curling championship.

There’s still a chance that could happen, but Canada could have a big say in the matter on Thursday night.

Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud, who won silver at last year’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver, is fighting hard for his playoff life. He improved to 5-4 with a 7-5 win over Scotland’s Tom Brewster on Wednesday night and then caught a huge break when the Czech Republic’s Jiri Snitil stole a point in the 11th end to beat Sweden’s Niklas Edin 6-5.

That means Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany are all tied for fourth with 5-4 records. The top four teams make the playoffs.

Ulsrud meets China on Thursday afternoon before finishing off the round robin in the evening draw against Canada’s Jeff Stoughton.

“If they’re not eliminated,” Stoughton said, “we want to eliminate them so we don’t have to play them again.”

BOW BEFORE ME: Speaking of Norway, Ulsrud and Co. marched in with the teams on Wednesday afternoon even though they weren’t playing.

When the Swedes lined up at the end of their sheet before their game against Canada, the four Norwegians got on their knees and brushed the Swedish shoes for a few seconds. It turns out Sweden won a couple of practice games against Norway a few weeks ago, and that was the bet.

Swedish skip Niklas Edin made sure plenty of people would be on hand to witness the payment.

“We could pick the game,” Edin said with a chuckle. “So against Canada? Yes.”

CANADIAN CONNECTION: Switzerland hasn’t won a medal at the world championship since Ralph Stockli captured silver in 2003.

If Christof Schwaller can accomplish the feat this week in Regina and he is still in the hunt going into Thursday’s action, a couple of Canadians can say they played a part.

Married couple Lorne and Chris Hamblin of Morris, Man., spent last winter coaching the Swiss national teams, including Schwaller’s squad that went 5-6 at the 2010 world championship in Cortina, Italy.

“He helped us with technical training,” Schwaller said of Lorne Hamblin, who was their official coach at last year’s worlds. “That was very important for us. That was good.”

Hamblin is a former president of the Manitoba Curling Association.

MIXING IT UP: Mixed doubles didn’t make the list when new sports for the 2014 Winter Olympics were announced on Wednesday, but the Canadian Curling Association is hopeful it will make the cut in 2018.

The World Curling Federation is expected to make a big push to get the sport in the 2018 Games, which will be held in either France, Germany or South Korea.

“I think if they had pursued it last spring and gone through the process that it had a very good chance of being accepted,” Warren Hansen, the CCA’s director of event management and media relations, said Thursday.

Getting a second version of the game in the Olympics would only help grow the sport, according to Hansen.

“Without question,” he said. “It’s another medal, and it’s showing a different type of participation in a sport around the world, which is only going to be good for it.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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