Canada skip Glenn Howard started his day at St. Jakobshalle by bopping his head to the music that blared through the arena before the gold-medal game at the world men's curling championship.
He ended it by standing where he always does when he plays at this event — on the top step of the podium.
Howard appeared comfortable from the start of the 8-7 extra-end victory over Scotland's Tom Brewster on Sunday. It was the fourth career world men's title in four tries for the Ontario skip, who threw his broom in the air and hugged his teammates after making a winning draw inside the four-foot.
“I was feeling really confident and really calm. That wasn't acting,” Howard said. “You just try to stay in your own zone. You can't worry about outcome, you just worry about the shot at hand.”
In the extra end, Canada lead Craig Savill hit two nice ticks and teammates Brent Laing and Wayne Middaugh came through with the necessary takeouts to set up Howard's winning throw.
“It's for the world championship and there's a lot on the line but Glenn makes it 99 times out of 100,” Middaugh said. “That's why he's throwing the last puck and there's nobody better to have doing it.”
It was Canada's 34th world championship since the first event was held in 1959. Howard's previous titles came in 1987, 1993 and 2007.
Laing studied his skip's demeanour when he entered the hack for the winning throw. He knew right away that Howard would nail it.
“He's got something,” Laing said. “I can't really explain it, I'm just happy to be around for it.”
Brewster, who said he was “gutted” after the loss, settled for silver for the second straight year. He had a chance to win it in the 10th end but only scored one after his stone slid out.
“We had a couple chances there,” he said. “It just needs to curl two or three inches. That's the way it goes.”
Brewster lost to Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton in last year's final in Regina.
Official attendance numbers weren't released but organizers estimated about 2,900 fans took in the gold-medal game. The energetic Scottish fans were overmatched by a larger contingent of flag-waving Canadian supporters in the 9,000-seat venue.
The Canadian team was tested several times throughout the competition but lost only once, a 9-7 defeat to New Zealand in a meaningless game on the final day of the round robin. New Zealand and China were in the playoff mix until the end but couldn't get past pre-tournament favourites Canada, Sweden, Scotland and Norway.
The final resembled the tight game that the two rinks played a day earlier in the Page playoff 1-versus-2 game, a 7-6 Canada victory.
Howard scored three in the third end but Brewster bounced back with a deuce in the fourth. It was back and forth from there with the consistent Howard again coming up big when it counted.
“Surreal is the best word I can come up with,” Howard said. “I can't believe we actually pulled this thing off.”
Scotland shot 86 per cent overall, slightly better than Canada at 83 per cent.
Savill said Howard's consistency helped give the Canadians a slight edge over the other top rinks. He added the 49-year-old skip has always had a very natural slide and phenomenal touch.
“When he has a bad game, he's missing by millimetres,” Savill said. “When I have a bad game, I'm missing by feet. That's just Glenn Howard.”
Norway's Thomas Ulsrud, who dropped a 9-8 decision in the bronze-medal game to Sweden, had similar thoughts.
“He has the slickest technique,” Ulsrud said. “He's just pure, you know.”
Ulsrud lost in an extra end to Sebastian Kraupp, who was filling in at skip for the injured Niklas Edin. Kraupp also made a draw to the four-foot for the victory.
“I tried to stay as calm as I could in the 11th end,” Kraupp said. “I'm not used to playing in this position but I figured out how to play the draw.”
Sweden led 7-3 after six ends but Norway fought back to score two in the seventh and added another point with a steal in the eighth.
Kraupp scored one in the ninth end. Ulsrud pulled even by drawing a second stone into the house in the 10th to force an extra end.
“It's the game you hate to lose,” Ulsrud said. “But it's to the Swedes' credit. They played well.”
With Edin out with back problems, Fredrik Lindberg threw third stones for Sweden while Oskar Eriksson was second and Viktor Kjaell played lead.
“This medal shows how solid we are as a team,” Kraupp said. “We've been up and down all week, so to have a medal here is excellent.”
All 12 countries picked up points on the long qualification process ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Additional points will be available at the 2013 world men's championship in Victoria.
It was the third career world title win for Middaugh (1993, 1998) and second victory for Laing and Savill (2007).
“I've come second a whole bunch of times at the Brier,” Savill said. “It feels so good to be the world champs again.”
Notes: Canadian alternate Scott Howard ran down from the viewing grandstand to hug his father and teammates after the win. Howard played a few ends in the round-robin finale against China. ... New Zealand third Sean Becker won the World Curling Federation Collie Campbell Memorial Award. It goes to the curler who best exhibits sportsmanship and ability. ... Organizers estimated about 2,400 fans were on hand for the bronze-medal game.Report Typo/Error
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