Kevin Koe had managed a week’s worth of heroics at the World Men’s Curling Championship in Lethbridge, Alta., with some stunning shots to pull his rink out of danger at the opportune time.
His luck, though, ran out on Sunday.
Koe, who was wearing the maple leaf as Team Canada, fell to Sweden’s Niklas Edin in the final by a score of 7-2, giving him a silver medal. Koe gave up a steal of three in the ninth end, which was the final nail in the coffin and forced him to shake hands.
In the media scrum after the game, Koe said the eighth end is what turned the tide for Sweden.
“Obviously, we kind of lost some of the control,” he said. “Tied up with hammer playing eight, that’s a good spot to be in, and we didn’t play a good end, obviously, and that’s what cost us. It sucks. We wanted to win this so badly and it’s very disappointing. We’re pretty deflated. After the eighth, we felt terrible – a steal of two was disappointing. It’s unfortunate, but they’re a great team.”
Koe finished third after the round-robin with a record of nine wins and three losses. He played Bruce Mouat of Scotland in the quarter-final and beat him, 6-5, followed by a semifinal win over Switzerland by that same scoreline in an extra end.
The final had been a strategic battle with very little to choose between the two rinks. Sweden came into the game with the hammer to start but it was Koe who opened the scoring with a steal of one in the third end after the opening two ends were blanked. Sweden got that back in the fourth with Koe scoring a single of his own in the fifth.
The sixth end saw Koe execute a double-takeout to lie three, forcing Edin to draw for a single to tie things up at 2-2. Koe was forced to make another double-takeout to blank the seventh and keep the hammer but the eighth end saw Edin make the big shot, a double-takeout to lie three and force Koe’s hand. Koe had to get a piece of the button with his final rock but it came up short, handing Edin a steal of two and a 4-2 lead heading to the ninth.
Edin controlled the ninth and sat four by the time Koe’s last rock came. Koe tried the same sort of shot he pulled off against Switzerland in the semifinal – a quad-takeout rocket which spilled all four Swiss rocks – but it didn’t work this time. He was only able to get rid of one Swedish rock, giving Edin the steal of three and it was handshakes after that.
“Win the Brier and second in the world championship – you can only ask for one more thing, right? That’s to win that game,” said Koe. “But second best this year – it’s a pretty good accomplishment for this team, but it’s hard to put it in perspective right now. We really wanted to win this, and it’s a little deflating the way it all ended.”
Koe got the chance to be Team Canada thanks to his win at the Tim Hortons Brier last month and he will get the chance to defend his title at the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier next year in Kingston, Ont., but his international duty isn’t over just yet. He will be one of the Canadian rinks competing in the grand final of the Curling World Cup in Beijing, China next month.
Koe qualified for that by winning the first leg of the event in Suzhou, China last September.