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St. John's team drops 8-6 extra-end decision to upstart team from Switzerland
By Robin Short
Telegram Sports Editor
Brad Gushue didn’t know a lot about Yannick Schwaller, the young Swiss architect who was meeting Gushue for the first time on curling ice Tuesday night, in the first draw of the Boost National.
There was no scouting report on Schwaller, other than this was only his second Grand Slam of Curling event, that he won a World Curling Tour championship back in September in Oakville, Ont., not to mention the world junior crown in 2015 and a silver medal at the world juniors the next winter.
But if there was a red book on Schwaller, it might say, “The guy can shoot.”
The 23-year-old from Bern skipped his team to an 8-6 win over Gushue and his team from St. John’s as the Pinty’s Grand Slam returned to Newfoundland for the second time in four years.
Back in 2015, at the Tour Challenge in Paradise, Gushue was runner-up just down the road from Conception Bay South, and its new arena where this Slam is being staged.
“I was impressed by the skip,” Gushue said of Schwaller. “He made a lot of good shots. Credit to them.”
One of his best on the night came on the last shot of the night, in an extra end. With Gushue sitting two, and looking in good position to steal the win, Schwaller fashioned a dandy runback double to score a pair and, as the old saying goes, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
“We fought hard,” Gushue said. “He made a good shot in the eighth to force it to an extra, and he made a great shot in the extra end to win.”
While Gushue was heaping praise on the Swiss team, which also includes Michael Brunner, Romano Meier and Marcel Kaufeler, he was shouldering the blame for the loss.
Up 4-3 after the fifth end, Gushue came up short on his last shot giving Schwaller a steal of two in six.
“A draw to the four foot,” he shrugged, “I expect to make those, but I missed it today. I pulled the string on it a little bit and it came up light. That one is on me.
“That was the difference. Instead of being two up, we’re down one.”
In the seventh, this time it was Mark Nichols who missed a shot, leading to another Schwaller steal, and a 6-4 lead.
“That was an uncharacteristic miss from Mark,” Gushue said. “He played really good, but he slid really deep on one of his rocks in the seventh. If he makes that, we’re scoring three or four.
“But it gave them an opening, and again, they took advantage of it. He (Schwaller) made a great draw on the last one.”
Gushue drew for two in the eighth to knot things up 6-6. In the extra end, Gushue turned up the heat on Schwaller, and was aided by a missed shot from Brunner, the vice skip, on his final rock.
But Schwaller was all but perfect on his two shots, giving the Swiss upstarts the victory.
“They’ve had a pretty good year,” Gushue said of the young Swiss curlers. “To get into these Slams, they have to be winning some games.”
The Boost National features 15 of the top men’s teams and 15 of the top women’s teams in the world. There are three pools of five teams each in men’s and women’s, with the top eight overall qualifying for the weekend playoffs.
The bonspiel winners receive $30,000 from a total purse of $250,000.
Gushue, Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker play again 8:30 tonight against Scotland’s Ross Paterson.
Other scores Tuesday were:
Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) 7, Scott McDonald (Kingston, Ont.) 5
Glenn Howard (Penetanguishene, Ont.) 4, Jason Gunnlaugson (Winnipeg, Man.) 1
Satsuki Fujisawa (Japan) 9, Jamie Sinclair (United States) 4
Chelsea Carey (Edmonton) 8, Nina Roth (United States) 7