Canada is no longer perfect at the world men’s curling championships.
But Brad Jacobs’s Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., rink still enjoyed some good fortune Tuesday, remaining alone in first place.
He bounced back from his first loss by downing Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud 10-7.
Jacobs and Ulsrud, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist waged a shot-making battle until the pivotal ninth end.
Canada was lying two, with one at the front of the 12-foot and another at the back, when Ulsrud decided to calll a timeout. But the strategy session did not produce dividends.
Ulsrud barely got has last shot into the 12-foot, and Jacobs calmly drew for three to go ahead 10-7. Canada then ran Norway out of rocks in the 10th.
Around the same time, Jacobs caught his last of many breaks on the day as Brady Jacobs of the U.S. upset Scotland’s David Murdoch 8-6. As a result, Scotland remained in a tie for second.
Jacobs’s day ended much better than it began. Jiri Snitil of the Czech Republic beat him 6-4 in the morning draw, handing Canada its first loss after five straight victories.
The loss ended Jacobs’s winning streak at 11 games dating to the Brier, and terminated Canada’s tenure as the last unbeaten rink in the 12-nation event.
“It was their day,” Jacobs said. “It wasn’t ours. It’s very frustrating — and a horrible performance. We’ll get it back.”
In an afternoon game, Scotland beat Russia’s Andrey Drozdov 6-4. Murdoch, a two-time world champion, drew even with Canada at 5-1, while the Russians dropped to 1-6.
But the damage to Canada could have been much worse. Three of Jacobs’s rivals lost in the afternoon, so the Canadian rink’s struggles were not as untimely as they might have been.
Niklas Edin’s Swedish rink was upset 10-8 by Japan (2-4). Sweden (5-2) missed a chance to gain sole possession of first place, pending the result of Canada’s game against Norway at night.
China (4-3) also missed a chance to match Canada’s win total when Rui Liu’s previously consistent rink was hammered 10-4 by Brad Clark of the U.S. (2-4).
The Americans made up for an embarrassing six-end loss to Canada the night before. It was China’s second loss of the day after Liu fell 5-4 to Thomas Ulsrud of Norway in the morning.
Even the Czechs (3-4) helped the Canadians later as they fell 6-5 to Denmark’s Rasmus Stjerne (4-2).
Until then, the Czechs appeared poised for a rise as they ended Jacobs’s win streak, which included six straight victories at the Brier in early March.
“It’s super beating one of the best teams in the world,” said Snitil, before he was disappointed later.
The Czechs caught a break in the ninth end when Jacobs missed a raise takeout, allowing Snitil to register a steal of one for a 6-4 lead going into the final end.
Czech misses gave Jacobs a chance for two after Canadian third Ryan Fry drew to the four-foot.
But Jacobs sent his first shot long to rest on the edge of the 12-foot, allowing Snitil to make the double takeout to end the game.
“We had some chances early, maybe, to force them into some tough shots and get a big end,” said Canadian second E.J. Harnden, who shot 95 per cent. “It was just one of those games where we didn’t capitalize when we had the opportunity — and they did.”
Snitil was good on 90 per cent of his shots, while Jacobs curled at a modest 70 per cent. Jacobs was disappointed with the effort after his rink had made few misses in its first five games.
But he tried to the setback in stride.
“We have been on fire a lot lately,” Jacobs said. “It’s only going to last so long before you end up taking a loss.”
Canada led 2-0 after the second end and 3-1 after the fourth before the Czechs scored twice in the fifth to make it a 3-3 tie.
Snitil stole one in the sixth after Jacobs missed a hit-and-roll attempt.
Jacobs scored one in the seventh to make it 4-4 but Snitil drew for one in the eighth and stole another in the ninth.
Snitil’s final takeout was set up after Fry put his first shot in the ninth end outside the 12-foot but still in play.
“I was horrible — that’s it,” said Fry, who shot 70 per cent. “I couldn’t get draw weight, so it gave their guys offensive shots that put them in the right spots, and they made every one of them.”
The Czechs, coached by Daniel Rafael, a 51-year-old Montreal native, are hoping for a good showing here to boost their chances of qualifying for the 2014 Sochi Olympics under a complicated points system.
Rafael is used to getting good results against Canada. While he was coaching in China, his teams beat the likes of Canadian powerhouse rinks skipped by Kevin Martin and Jennifer Jones.
“It just seems like whenever Canada loses their first game, it’s usually against a team I’m coaching,” Rafael said.
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