Thursday, March 13, 2008

Finland: enroute to playoffs!

by Paul Webster
CCA National Development Coach
Coach, Canada 2008 World Mixed Doubles

VIERUMAKI – In what some observers described as the best game of the event so far, Canada defeated Hungary in a one game tiebreaker to advance into tomorrow’s playoffs.

We won in an extra-end game that had everyone on their feet. If you look at the scoreboard you'll see a lot of one-point ends scored, in total contrast with everybody’s games throughout the week... and this seriously didn’t reflect the level of play.

First, a bit of background on how we got here. Two days ago we lost a tough morning game against Hungary. It was a tough one to lose as prior to the game we were alone in top spot. Both Dean Ross and Susan O’Connor were struggling with their percentages, but we hung in and played a great eighth and final end, and just missed our final stone that would have put a lot of pressure on Hungary. Having realized they beat Canada, they yelled in celebration.

You’ll notice that the celebrations here in Europe are much different than in North America. The Europeans have a lot of emotion and for a lot of these countries beating Canada is like winning the event. When Italy beat us, the guy on the team hoisted his female teammate in the air like they had just won the Super Bowl. It’s different, and something that Canadian curlers would not do and something we have to adjust to – it’s just tough to watch!

The loss created a must-win situation against Japan in our evening game. After taking one point in the first end we dropped a five in the second, a steal of one in the third, and we were then forced to one in the fourth. Down 6-2 after four ends. Change!

For the first time in the Worlds we made the decision to change up our rotation. Susan started throwing first and fifth and Dean threw the middle three rocks... and was it ever a great decision. A bunch of steals in five, six and seven, a force of one in the eighth to force the extra end, and we simply dominated the extra-end. Five points to finish up... and we win 12-7 after being down 6-2 Phew! That was quite the roller coaster and that, my friends, is the World Mixed Doubles.

So today, in a rematch with the Hungarians, we continued with our change of having Susan throw first and last (watch out Cheryl!) and Dean throw the middle three... and it continued to work beautifully.

Hungary was also playing very well, especially in the opening half of the game. They had a chance to set up a big end in the sixth, however they elected to peel a guard which allowed us some easy shots to ensure our score of one... it could have easily been a steal of one or two had they elected to corner freeze. Canada into the playoffs!

So our path tomorrow is clear: play the Czech Republic and if we beat them, play Finland... that would put us into a traditional four-team semifinal playoff with Sweden, Switzerland and Norway... so cross your fingers!

Weather update: it’s back to cold and snowy here. Only one day so far with a glimmer of sunshine. Depressing, but winning some big games has certainly lifted the spirits of the Canadian team members.

Senior Women have a big game tomorrow morning, as well, against Sweden. Win and they guarantee themselves at least second place. Senior Men are rolling along nicely.


nocurling said...


how do most of the other teams structure their rotation - men throwing the outside 2 stones or the middle 3?

good luck,
iceless in olympia

TCN said...

Hello iceless:

We have not seen a definite pattern by teams here in terms of their rotation. You can basically structure the teams into two categories, though: one being those with two players of equal ability and two, a group of teams with one strong player and one weaker player.

It's evident that the majority of teams with an obviously weaker player are trying to hide that player at positions 1 and 5. They hope they can get the draw shot in a good position and then set up their "good" player to load up with three consecutive shots, and then hope it all works out on the 5th throw!

If your "good player can make three acceptable-to-great shots in a row they can really put the pressure on the other team. That said I would rather be in our position and that of the majority of the playoff teams here!

Having said that, the optional rotation is a cool concept during the game as your rotations can be based on a number of factors. We base it a lot on the feel of the game and shooting percentages. We will also put Dean in the middle three shots if we are up points with hammer, to help defend, as Dean is a very good hitter and can throw a bit more weight than Susan.

Fun stuff for sure! Imagine if you could change your rotation in regular four on four curling??