World championship curling is returning to the Season of Champions.
Last year’s World Men’s Curling Championship was slated to run in Scotland, but, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans.
Now, a year later, 14 teams from around the globe will call the Calgary bubble inside WinSport Arena at Canada Olympic Park their home as they pursue world curling supremacy. The World Women’s Curling Championship will also take place in the curling bubble from April 30-May 9.
Canada and Scotland go head-to-head in their world championship opener Friday at 11am et/8am pt on TSN 1/3 and streaming on TSN.ca, the TSN App and TSN Direct.
Brendan Bottcher and his Edmonton rink will have the Maple Leaf on their backs after finally breaking through with their first Brier championship, defeating Kevin Koe in a low-scoring final a few weeks ago. Team Bottcher had lost the previous three Canadian championship finals.
The 29-year-skip will be joined by third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen, lead Karrick Martin, coach Don Bartlett and new alternate Marc Kennedy.
Kennedy is joining Team Bottcher as an insurance policy after the foursome received a scare during the Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Championship earlier this month when Moulding and partner Joanne Courtney were forced to pull out of the tournament due to Moulding having back spasms. However, it appears rest and recovery has gone well as Moulding is expected to be fully healthy for the start of the worlds on Friday.
Regular alternate Patrick Janssen will remain on in a support role.
This year’s field at the world championships has expanded from 13 to 14 teams as the top-six finishers will earn their respective nations a spot in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.
Each team will play a 13-game round robin with the top six teams qualifying for the playoffs. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds earn byes straight to the semifinals. The third-seeded team plays No. 6 while No. 4 battles No. 5 in the qualification round.
The semifinals take place on April 10 with the bronze and gold-medal contests going down on April 11.
Canada is currently ranked second in the world in men’s curling behind Sweden, according to the World Curling Federation. Canada has won gold at the world men’s curling championship a record 36 times. Sweden is second at nine while Scotland is third with five gold medals. Bottcher won gold for Canada at the 2012 world junior curling championship.
Canada hasn’t won gold at this event since Brad Gushue accomplished the feat in 2017 in Edmonton. Let’s take a closer look at Team Bottcher’s path to the top of the podium in Calgary.
Game 1 - Scotland (Team Bruce Mouat)
Friday, April 2, at 11am et on TSN 1/3
Skip: Bruce Mouat
Third: Grant Hardie
Second: Bobby Lammie
Lead: Hammy McMillan Jr.
Alternate: Ross Whyte
WCF Ranking: 5
Breakdown: Canada gets thrown straight into the deep end with the young perennial contenders from Scotland in their opener. Bruce Mouat’s Edinburgh rink is one of the best on the planet. All four members are 29 or younger and have made the playoffs in both of their two appearances at the World Men’s Curling Championship, capturing bronze in their first showing in 2018 after going 11-1 in the round robin. Mouat, the 2016 world junior champion, became the youngest skip to win a Grand Slam title in 2017 at the National as a 23-year-old.
Game 2 - Japan (Team Yuta Matsumura)
Friday, April 2, at 9pm et on TSN1
Skip: Yuta Matsumura
Third: Tetsuro Shimizu
Second: Yasumasa Tanida
Lead: Shinya Abe
Alternate: Kosuke Aita
WCF Ranking: 6
Breakdown: Bottcher and company will have another tough matchup later on the opening day of the world championship. Yuta Matsumura led his Japanese foursome to an impressive 9-3 round-robin record at the 2019 world championship in Lethbridge, highlighted by a 9-3 rout of Canada’s Kevin Koe. They’d go on to take out John Shuster and the 2018 Olympic gold medallists from the United States in the qualification game before losing to Sweden in the semi-final and Switzerland in the bronze-medal game to finish fourth. What does the 31-year-old have in store for his second world championship as a skip?
Game 3 – Denmark (Team Mads Noergaard)
Saturday, April 3, at 11am et on TSN 1/3
Fourth: Mikkel Krause
Third: Tobias Thune
Skip/Second: Mads Noergaard
Lead: Kasper Wiksten
Alternate: Oliver Rosenkrands Soee
WCF Ranking: 10
Breakdown: After a night game on Friday, Canada will get a few hours of sleep and be right back on the ice for a 9am local time draw against the Danes. Denmark is skipped by Mads Noergaard, who will call the game but throw second stones. Mikkel Krause will toss skip stones. This will be the first men’s world appearance for Denmark since 2016 when Rasmus Stjerne made a memorable run to capture the silver medal. Krause and Noergaard were teammates at the 2019 European Curling Championships, leading Denmark to a 5-4 round-robin record, eventually losing to Scotland’s Ross Paterson in the bronze-medal game. This will be the first men’s worlds appearance for all four members of the team.
Game 4 – Switzerland (Team Peter De Cruz)
Sunday, April 4, at 11am et on TSN 1/3/4
Fourth: Benoît Schwarz
Third: Sven Michel
Skip/Second: Peter de Cruz
Lead: Valentin Tanner
Alternate: Pablo Lachat
WCF Ranking: 4
Breakdown: Team Bottcher will get nearly a full day off before taking on the 2018 Olympic bronze medalists from Switzerland. Geneva’s Team Peter De Cruz also has a lineup structure similar to the Danes in that skip De Cruz throws second stones while Benoit Schwarz is responsible for skip stones as the fourth. Despite the pandemic, Team De Cruz played a handful of events this year in Switzerland, winning three times, beating countryman Yannick Schwaller in the final each time. De Cruz, the 2010 world junior champ, is a three-time bronze medallist at the men’s worlds (2014, 2017, 2019).
Game 5 – Netherlands (Team Jaap van Dorp)
Sunday, April 4, at 4pm et on TSN1
Fourth: Wouter Goesgens
Skip/Third: Jaap van Dorp
Second: Laurens Hoekman
Lead: Carlo Glasbergen
Alternate: Tobias van den Hurk
WCF Ranking: 14
Breakdown: Following their game against Switzerland, the Canadians will quickly return to the ice to battle another European nation. At No. 14, the Netherlands are the lowest-ranked country at this year’s world championship. Jaap van Dorp, 31, will skip the Dutch at a fourth consecutive men’s worlds and has posted a total record of 9-26 over the previous three events. Van Dorp throws third stones while Wouter Goesgens throws last.
Game 6 – United States (Team John Shuster)
Monday, April 5, at 11am et on TSN 1/5
Skip: John Shuster
Third: Chris Plys
Second: Matt Hamilton
Lead: John Landsteiner
Alternate: Colin Hufman
WCF Ranking: 3
Breakdown: John Shuster, 38, will represent the Americans at the world championships for the ninth time in his career and the sixth time as a skip. Four-time Olympian Shuster alongside second Matt Hamilton and lead John Landsteiner won gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Third Chris Plys replaced Tyler George following the memorable Olympic run. At the 2019 words, Team Shuster went 8-4 in the preliminary round before losing to Japan in the qualifier. Shuster’s best finish at the world championships was bronze in 2016 in Basel, Switzerland.
Game 7 – South Korea (Team Yeong-Seok Jeong)
Monday, April 5, at 4pm et on TSN 1/4
Skip: Yeong-Seok Jeong
Third: Se-Won Park
Second: Jeong-Min Kim (Vice-Skip)
Lead: Jun-Hyung Lee
Alternate: Min-Guk Seo
WCF Ranking: 8
Breakdown: For the second straight day, Team Bottcher will play in back-to-back draws. The second contest on Monday will be against world championship rookies Team Yeong-Seok Jeong of South Korea. Jeong is one the younger skips in the field at 25.
Game 8 – Italy (Team Joel Retornaz)
Tuesday, April 6, at 4pm et on TSN 1/3
Skip: Joel Retornaz
Third Amos Mosaner
Second: Sebastiano Arman
Lead: Mattia Giovanella
Alternate: Fabio Ribotta
WCF Ranking: 9
Breakdown: Joel Retornaz will skip Italy at the world championship for the sixth time inside the Calgary curling bubble. The two-time Olympian (2006 and 2018) is bringing back most of the same lineup that posted a solid 7-5 record in Lethbridge two years ago, just missing the six-team playoff. Mattia Giovanella, 23, is the newcomer at front end. The Lethbridge worlds was the best showing for the 37-year-old skip at this event. The Italians could be playoff contenders once again and should give the Canadians a competitive game.
Game 9 – China (Team Qiang Zou)
Tuesday, April 6, at 9pm et on TSN1
Skip: Qiang Zou
Third: Jiafeng Tian
Second: Zhiyu Wang
Lead: Jingtao Xu
Alternate: Peng Han
WCF Ranking: 13
Breakdown: China is led by 29-year-old skip Qiang Zou. This will be the fourth world championship for Zou, but just the second as the shot caller and last rock thrower. Zou and his team posted a 2-10 record in Lethbridge in 2019. Zhiyu Wang threw vice stones for China at that championship and will play the second position in the bubble. Jiafeng Tian, 24, joins the team at third.
Game 10 – Russian Curling Federation (Team Sergey Glukhov)
Wednesday, April 7, at 4pm et on TSN1
Skip: Sergey Glukhov
Third: Evgenii Klimov
Second: Dmitrii Mironov (Vice-Skip)
Lead: Anton Kalalb
Alternate: Daniil Goriachev
WCF Ranking: 11
Breakdown: Russia is currently in the midst of a two-year World Anti-Doping Agency ban so skip Sergey Glukhov and his Saint Petersburg crew will be called the ‘Russian Curling Federation’ in Calgary. This will the fourth world championship for the 28-year Glukhov and the second as a skipper. He led the Russians to a 4-8 showing in 2019, tying Russia’s best showing at the event in history. They lost to Kevin Koe and Team Canada 11-3 in the round robin. This country is ranked 11th in the world in men’s curling.
Game 11 – Sweden (Team Niklas Edin)
Wednesday, April 7, at 9pm et on TSN 1/3
Skip: Niklas Edin
Third: Oskar Eriksson
Second: Rasmus Wrana
Lead: Christoffer Sundgren
Alternate: Daniel Magnusson
WCF Ranking: 1
Breakdown: Mark this one down on your calendars. Niklas Edin and the No. 1-ranked Swedes have defeated Canadian curling heavyweights Brad Gushue and Kevin Koe in the past two men’s worlds finals, posting a total record of 26-2 in the process. The 35-year-old Edin has actually made the final in each of the last three years the event was played and has won the world title four times in nine appearances. Three of Edin’s four gold-medal wins have happened in Canada. He also has two Olympic medals to his name as well, silver in Pyeongchang 2018 and bronze four years earlier in Sochi. Canada is the best curling country in the world in terms of depth, but Sweden’s Team Edin might just be the best rink. The two-time defending champs will have a target on their backs inside the bubble and this late round-robin match against Team Bottcher could be the gold-medal preview.
Game 12 – Norway (Team Steffen Walstad)
Thursday, April 8, at 9pm et on TSN1
Skip: Steffen Walstad
Third: Torger Nergaard
Second: Markus Hoeiberg
Lead: Magnus Vaagberg
Alternate: Eirik Mjoeen
WCF Ranking: 7
Breakdown: Steffen Walstad will skip Norway at the men’s worlds for a third time, but it will be 46-year-old Torger Nergaard with the most experience on this squad and the whole tournament. Nergaard spent a decade playing vice for Thomas Ulsrud, a team that made headlines around the world thanks to their “fancy pants.” This will be Nergaard’s 13th appearance at the men’s world championship, the most in this year’s field and the third most of all-time. Nergaard won a world title with Ulsrud in 2014 (the last time Norway won gold) and has six medals (one gold, two silver, three bronze) to his name from this event. He’s been to five Olympic Games, winning gold in 2002 in Salt Lake City as an alternate for Paal Trulsen and a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, playing third for Ulsrud. Walstad, 32, led Norway to a 7-5 record in 2018 before losing to South Korea in the qualification game. With a strong skip in Walstad and an experienced Nergaard in the fold, Norway will be in the playoff mix in Calgary.
Draw 13 – Germany (Team Sixten Totzek)
Friday, April 9, at 11am et on TSN5
Skip: Sixten Totzek
Third: Marc Muskatewitz
Second: Joshua Sutor
Lead: Dominik Greindl
Alternate: Klaudius Harsch
WCF Ranking: 12
Breakdown: At just 21, Germany’s Sixten Totzek will be the youngest skip at the year’s World Men’s Curling Championship. Third Marc Muskatewitz, 25, skipped the Germans at the 2019 world championships, posting a 4-8 record. Lead Dominik Greindl was also on that squad.