Canada’s 8-2 win over Norway at the world men’s curling championship on Wednesday featured an unusual fifth-end decision by skip Brad Gushue and his teammates.
They were leading 3-1, were in possession of the hammer and had two well-guarded counters as Nichols prepared to throw his second stone. But the team eventually chose to go with a rare throw-through from Nichols, as the Canadian team agreed putting a rock in play could have helped Norway more than Canada.
“I looked at (Gushue) and said, 'I don't think I'd ever had to do that at third,”' said Nichols, who noted while the move ran opposite to his curling instincts, he felt it was the right strategy in those circumstances
“You always think you want to put another rock in play, but play the scoreboard … a little safer,” he said. “You just don't want to give them a shot to get back in the game.”
Gushue acknowledged it was a hard call “because you can look stupid,” but it turned out to be a smart one as the Canadians went on to score two.
“I tend in those situations to look at it as, if I'm Norway looking at that situation, what do I not want them to do? I would want them to put a rock in play where I can potentially freeze to it or potentially come around it,” said Gushue
“When I sat back and thought about it I said to the guys 'what about throwing it through?”'
Gushue ended up with a soft tap to score two in the end. After a three-pointer in the seventh, the Norwegians shook hands to concede an 8-2 victory to Canada.
“Obviously the result proves I'm right,” he added with a chuckle.
He also joked that he would “love to throw some rocks through,” although skips frequently do throw away their last rocks in order to blank an end and retain last-rock advantage.
But it can backfire in other circumstances.
It did for in 2009 for Kevin Martin, who was inducted into the World Curling Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
In the final end of the world championship final in Moncton versus Scotland's David Murdoch., Martin and his Canadian teammates hashed through the angles and ended up deciding to throw away his first stone. Murdoch made a double bump for shot rock and Martin missed the raise double to give up the steal and the win.
“We still tease Kevin about it,” Gushue said. “There's times when it's probably a good call, but the fear of it is what happened to Kevin (is always there).”
With files from The Canadian Press and Curling Canada