Curling

Howard routs China in round robin finale at curling worlds

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Associated Press
4/5/2012 11:43:41 PM
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BASEL, Switzerland -- With a wave of his hand, Canada's Glenn Howard turned a meaningless warmup game into a night he'll always remember.

Up 7-2 on China after six ends of his round-robin finale, the veteran skip gestured for his son Scott -- the team's alternate -- to join them on the ice and make his world championship debut.

"It's a pretty proud moment for Pops, I can tell you that much," Glenn said.

The younger Howard was solid over the last four ends of the 8-7 victory. The Canadians wrapped up first place a day earlier and were able to use Thursday's games to prepare for the weekend.

"I got a couple games in at the Brier but to play in the world championship at 21 years old is pretty exciting," Scott said. "Especially to play with my dad, it's surreal."

A group of friends and family members cheering from the upper reaches of St. Jakobshalle cheered him on and Howard delivered, shooting 88 per cent for the game.

It was a nice way to cap the round robin. Now things get serious for the Howard rink.

Canada will face Scotland in the Page playoff 1-versus-2 game Saturday. The winner will move straight to Sunday's final while the loser falls into the semifinal.

"We've got our hands full," Glenn said. "They love to mix it up a little bit when they have to. We've got to play."

Canada beat Scotland 7-5 in their round-robin meeting Wednesday.

"We'll have a chat about how to beat Canada, but they're not unbeatable," Brewster said.

Norway's Thomas Ulsrud won his last six games to lock up the No. 3 seed at 8-3. He'll play the winner of Friday's tiebreaker between Sweden and New Zealand in the Page playoff 3-versus-4 game Saturday.

Ulsrud needed an extra end to get by France 9-6 in afternoon play. Scotland was given the second seed since it beat Norway earlier in the competition.

Sweden defeated Germany 7-4 to reach the tiebreaker. Sebastian Kraupp handled skip duties for Sweden after Niklas Edin's back issues flared up again.

The winner of the 3-versus-4 game advances to the semifinal while the loser will play for bronze Sunday. China and Denmark finished at 6-5 and the United States took eighth place at 4-7.

Canada's nine-game winning streak came to an end earlier in the day. New Zealand's Peter de Boer scored two in an extra end for a 9-7 upset victory.

"I give them credit, they played terrific," Howard said. "I think they outplayed us so they deserved to win."

Howard shot just 67 per cent against New Zealand but scored two in the 10th end to tie it. De Boer, who shot 80 per cent, had the hammer in the extra end and hit a delicate tapback for the win.

That gave New Zealand its first-ever victory over Canada at a world championship.

"It doesn't get any better than that," de Boer said of his win over one of the sport's giants.

De Boer spent 15 years as an elite curler in his native Scotland before moving to Australia in 2005. He has spent the last 4 1/2 years in New Zealand.

Howard was disappointed with the loss but knew it was likely to happen at some point this week.

"That's obviously the time to do it, when it doesn't really matter," Howard said. "But don't get me wrong, we were trying to win that game as much as everyone else.

"We were looking to win every game that we're here. We didn't."

Howard, Wayne Middaugh, Craig Savill and Brent Laing shot 82 per cent as a team in the loss, just ahead of New Zealand at 81 per cent. Canada shot 88 per cent in the finale against China.

Howard has been receiving physiotherapy treatment to alleviate some pain in his upper left thigh. He said he tweaked something just below his hip during his victory over Sweden on Wednesday.

He added he doesn't anticipate he'll have any issues with the leg on the weekend.

Host Switzerland thrilled the boisterous crowd of about 2,300 with a 10-6 win over France. Both rinks finished at 3-8 while the Czech Republic and Germany were tied for last place at 2-9.

Glenn Howard (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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