Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud scored three points in the ninth end for a 9-5 win over Canada’s Kevin Koe in a battle of first-place teams at the world men’s curling championship on Tuesday.
Ulsrud hit a double takeout with his final stone to improve to 6-1 after 11 draws of play at Capital Indoor Stadium. Koe, who beat the United States 7-4 earlier in the day, fell into a three-way tie for second place at 5-2.
“I would have liked to be a little better, but the way we were playing earlier in the week, that’s not a bad spot because we were struggling,” Koe said. “We have some tough games coming up, but if we can keep throwing it well, I think we’ll get better results.
“Some of the missed shots weren’t the result of the throws — it was more the line calling. We just have to pick that up a little better.”
Ulsrud was coming off a 7-6 loss to Germany in an extra end.
Koe and his Calgary-based team of lead Nolan Thiessen, second Carter Rycroft and third Pat Simmons were tied with Japan’s Yusuke Morozumi and Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz.
Canada was scheduled to play Switzerland and Sweden on Wednesday before closing out round-robin play Thursday with games against Scotland and Germany.
“We have to do our job obviously,” said Simmons. “We have four tough games and we’re going to have to play well. Obviously the goal is still to be in the 1-2 (Page Playoff) game. We’ll see what happens, but we have a lot of work to do before we can think about that.”
Ulsrud drew for three in the second end and stole a single in the third when Koe’s last-rock tap barely rubbed a guard after the sweepers had been briefly called off.
“For sure, that was big,” said Koe. “Threw it good, but we missed a few line calls today which was disappointing. We’re throwing it good and the ice is really good. It sucks to lose any time, but I like the way we’re coming around and if the ice keeps getting better I think we’ll be fine.”
Canada drew to within a point but never pulled even. Its best opportunity was in the seventh end but Koe’s draw attempt behind a centre guard caught some debris, leaving Ulsrud an easier shot for a single.
“We were a bit lucky there early in the game,” Ulsrud said of his third-end steal. “That was the game for Norway right there, we took a 4-1 lead. They are a strong team and fought their way back and it was tight all the way until the ninth end there.”
Germany and Sweden were tied for fifth place at 4-3.
The Czech Republic and host China were next at 3-4, followed by Denmark, Scotland and the U.S., at 2-5. Russia was alone in last place at 1-6.
The playoffs begin Friday and the medal games are scheduled for Sunday.
Koe won gold in 2010 at his only previous appearance at this event. Canada has won gold in three of the last four years.