Must See: Koe makes sensational quad takeout against Switzerland
The last 10 years of curling has been filled with thrilling shots, dramatic finals and unexpected moments. Take a look at some of the best stories from the peddled ice with TSN.ca's curling decade in review. What are your top curling memories from the past decade?
Canada kicked off the curling decade with a bang.
It might seem like a lifetime ago, but remember when Kevin Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert captured gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver?
The curling triumph was just one of many Canadian success stories over those two weeks in Vancouver and Whistler. Maybe the most memorable moment came in a round robin game against Great Britain when fans at Hillcrest Centre spontaneously broke out in stirring rendition of O Canada.
"That's one you'll want to put in the old memory bank in the back of your head, because I've never heard that in any sport that I’ve ever been to or watched on TV," Martin told Reuters.
Martin and company went 9-0 in the round robin and then took out Sweden’s Niklas Edin and Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud in the semis and final, respectively. The victory never seemed in doubt as Canada scored a tournament-leading 75 points and allowed a tournament-low 36.
At last year’s Brier, Martin’s Olympic-winning squad were named the greatest Canadian male rink of all-time as part of TSN’s Greatest Canadian Curlers project.
This 2010 gold rush in Vancouver has to be Canada’s top curling moment of the decade.
Double Gold for Canada in Sochi
Jennifer Jones and Brad Jacobs brought home the goods at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as Canada swept the gold medals in dominating fashion for the first time in history.
Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen were literally unbeatable that week at the Ice Cube Curling Center, going a perfect 9-0 and outscoring their opponents 72-40.
They handled Great Britain’s Eve Muirhead and Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson without much trouble in the playoffs, giving Canada their first women’s curling gold medal since 1998 when Sandra Schmirler won it all.
The men had a bumpier road as Jacobs, third Ryan Fry, second EJ Harnden and lead Ryan Harden dropped two of their first three games in the round robin. However, they wouldn’t lose again with routs of China and Great Britain in the playoffs, giving Canada gold in men’s curling for the third consecutive Olympics.
Shuster Shocks the World in South Korea
All things considered, John Shuster’s Olympic upset has to be the curling story of the decade.
The United States’ best finish prior to the 2018 Olympics was a bronze in 2006 at the Turin, Italy, Winter Games. Shuster played lead for the Americans at those Olympics and would then skip in 2010 and 2014, finishing near the bottom of the standings each time.
Heading into the Pyeongchang Games much of the same was expected. But Shuster, Tyler George, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner had different plans.
The Americans impressed in the round robin with surprise victories over mighty Canada, Great Britain and Switzerland, leading to a 5-4 record and a spot in the semis against Kevin Koe. Shuster controlled the game from start to finish, never allowing a deuce en route to a stunning 5-3 victory, the second time they beat the heavily favoured Canadians in the tournament.
Next up was the gold-medal game against curling powerhouse Niklas Edin of Sweden. Curling fans old and new packed bars and curling clubs across the country, something that surely never happened before and might never again, to watch history as the USA scored five in the 8th for the 10-7 victory.
The Miracle on Ice now has some competition for America’s greatest underdog story ever told.
Curling King of Canada
Kevin Koe was the king of men’s curling this past decade.
The skipper, originally from Yellowknife, N.W.T., played in seven Canadian championships over the past 10 years, making six finals and winning an incredible four Brier Tankards.
Koe hit the ground running in 2010 when he beat curling legend Glenn Howard to capture his first Brier title in his first appearance. The win in Halifax was highlighted by a terrific shot in the 10th end to stay alive and a draw to the button winner in the extra.
After Howard got his revenge against Koe in the 2012 Brier final, Koe’s rink out of the Glencoe Curling Club got back on track in 2014, posting a 9-2 record in the round robin before sneaking by Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard in the semifinal and then blasting former teammate John Morris in the championship tilt.
To the shock of many, Koe left his Brier-winning team following the 2014 season to form a super team of third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing and lead Ben Hebert. Team Koe fell short at the 2015 Brier, but was back on top of the podium in 2016 after beating Brad Gushue in the final.
Koe made another Brier final in 2017, this time falling to the Gushue in a rematch, and finished off the calendar year with a surreal victory at the 2017 Roar of the Rings Olympic trials. Despite leaving Pyeongchang without a medal, Koe ended the decade with his fourth Canadian championship after beating Wild Card’s Brendan Bottcher in the final of the 2019 Brier with a dramatic last shot. This time he had BJ Neufeld at third and Colton Flasch at second, meaning he won four Tankards with four different lineups this past decade.
“You’re watching greatness with him,” said Hebert after the Brier win in 2019. “He’s top three. He’s ridiculous. I mean, with what this guy has done with his career, he has one blemish of not winning the Olympic Games. Well, he won the Olympic trials, the hardest event to win. He’s won four Briers with four different teams, so who is the common denominator there? You guys can figure that out. But he’s amazing, I love curling with him.”
Koe, who also has two world championships to his name, is now grouped with Ernie Richardson, Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin as the only skips to win four Briers.
Homan becomes a star, Jones cements legacy as G.O.A.T
Rachel Homan and Jennifer Jones were at the forefront of curling all decade long.
Not everybody would have known the name of the skip from the Ottawa Curling Club at the beginning of this decade, but they sure do now.
At her first Scotties Tournament of Hearts appearance in 2011, the 22-year-old prodigy impressed with an 8-3 record before losing to Amber Holland of Saskatchewan in the semis.
Team Homan returned to nationals in 2013 and seemed to be on a different level. They won 10 of 11 games in the round robin and then downed Jones twice in the playoffs to win the Canadian championship. Homan’s crew ran the table the following year in Montreal – the skipper became the youngest in history to win back-to-back Scotties.
In 2017, this time with Joanne Courtney at second, Homan won her third national championship thanks to a handful of superb late-game shot against Manitoba’s Michelle Englot in the final. Another Scotties meant another Scotties record as Homan became the youngest to win three Canadian titles. Homan won her first world championship a few weeks later in China.
The new mother didn’t limit her record-breaking performances to just the Season of Champions. Her team’s victory at the 2019 Canadian Open gave Homan 10 Grand Slam wins in her career, breaking Jones’ record of nine.
On the other hand, the Winnipeg skip made some history of her own.
Jones entered this decade with three Scotties titles and will leave the decade with six, winning the national tournament in 2010 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 2015 in Moose Jaw, Sask., and 2018 in Penticton, B.C., putting herself in a tie with Nova Scotia great Colleen Jones for most all-time.
Jones added world championships in 2015 and 2018 in addition to gold at the 2014 Olympics.
At the 2019 Scotties, Jones was named the greatest Canadian female curler of all-time as part of TSN's Greatest Canadian Curlers project.
Party on The Rock
Brad Gushue needed to go home to win his first Canadian championship.
Gushue played in 13 Briers, making the playoffs eight times and losing in the title game twice. Then, thanks in large part to the Newfoundland skip’s determination, Curling Canada announced the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier would take place in St. John’s, Nfld., for the first time since 1972.
The then-36-year-old headed into the St. John’s Brier banged up after missing a good portion of that season with a nagging hip and groin injury. Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker started slowly with early losses to Manitoba’s Mike McEwen and an absolute shocker to Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories.
But the early hiccup would not turn out to be the death of Gushue’s rink from the Bally Haly Golf & Curling Club. With a sold-out rink behind them for every match, Gushue and company reeled off eight straight wins to set up a rematch against rival Kevin Koe of Team Canada in the final. Gushue dropped the second Brier final of his career the previous year to Koe.
Gushue was up 5-1 at the break before Koe scored three in the sixth and a steal of one in the seventh to make things very interesting. It all came down to the final shot with Gushue needing a draw to the eight-foot to break a 6-6 tie. Just like the whole week leading up to that point, the final throw was just as nerve-wracking, with Nichols needing to jump out of the house and sweep with Walker suffering through a bad shoulder.
The rock slid just far enough, sending the crowd packed in at Mile One Centre into delirious joy for the final time. Gushue finally captured his first Brier and it was the first for Newfoundland and Labrador since Jack MacDuff accomplished the feat in 1976.
"I've been close so many times and we as a team have been close," Gushue said. "To finally win it — and win it at home — you couldn't ask for a better story. It's awesome."
It’s a moment that will surely last a lifetime for curling fans on The Rock.
Swedish Viking Takes Over the World
If Kevin Koe and Rachel Homan dominated in Canada this past decade, than Niklas Edin dominated the world.
The Swede became the first curler outside of Canada to win the men’s world curling championship four times after his wins in 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2019. He would have had five if not for a loss to Brad Gushue in the 2017 gold-medal game in Edmonton.
"It feels amazing. This was probably the sweetest win of my career,” said Edin after his most recent win in 2019. “We've never played better than this for an event. It felt like we were dominating the whole week."
Edin added a remarkable six European championships, three Grand Slam victories plus a bronze and silver medal at the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, respectively.
The Swiss Can’t Miss
It’s safe to say Switzerland brought their A-game this decade at the women’s world curling championship.
The Swiss women captured an amazing five world titles over the past 10 years, including three in a row from 2014 to 2016.
The most amazing part of their curling dynasty is that they’ve used four different skips to lead the nation to the five championships. Mirjam Ott got the ball rolling in 2012 before Binia Feltscher-Beeli and Alina Patz defeated Canadian curling powerhouses Rachel Homan and Jennifer Jones in 2014 and 2015. Feltscher-Beeli won her second world title and finished off the three-peat in 2016 after beating Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa. Finally, Silvana Tirinzoni won the most recent world women’s curling championship, beating Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg in the final.
Which curling nation will dominate the 2020s?
Savill’s Emotional Return
The most emotional on-ice moment this past decade happened at the 2016 Brier in Ottawa.
Popular lead Craig Savill watched from the stands at his hometown Brier in the nation’s capital. The two-time Canadian champion was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the previous summer and was forced to miss the season.
Near the end of the round robin during a meaningless game between Glenn Howard and Pat Simmons, Savill was invited to throw a pair of rocks to lead off the eighth end. He made both perfectly as family, friends and thousands of fans watched with delight and maybe a few tears on a memorable night at TD Place Arena.
“I was shaking because I was so nervous to throw the rock and I was just saying don’t fall,” Savill said afterwards. “I felt a lot of love from the crowd and I was thinking this is a pretty special moment that I’m going to remember for a long time.”
The 41-year-old husband and father of two is now fully recovered and most recently curled with John Epping.
Chelsea Carey’s second Scotties Tournament of Hearts title was improbable. In fact, it had never been done before.
Down 5-1 at the break in the 2019 Scotties championship game, Carey’s first-year Alberta rink of third Sarah Wilkes, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachel Brown chipped away at Rachel Homan’s lead by grabbing steals in the three of the last five ends. The Winnipeg native completed the once-in-a-lifetime comeback after Homan was light on a draw for the second straight end with her last stone in the 11th.
“I don’t think I even know what just happened. I’m still in shock,” said Carey after the game.
It was Carey’s second career Canadian championship, adding to her title in 2016.
Tardi Party at Canadian Juniors
There shouldn’t be any debate when it comes to naming the top junior player of the decade. He might just be the best of all time.
British Columbia skip Tyler Tardi became the first curler to win three straight Canadian junior curling championships earlier this year after beating JT Ryan in the men’s final.
"It's hard to pinpoint one that's most special," said Tardi. "The first is unreal just because it's the first time. Second, we got to tie the record with some of the great junior curlers like John Morris, and now to pass them is just an unbelievable feeling."
The 21-year-old was still eligible to compete in 2020 and go for a fourth straight, but has elected to play with the pros.
Tardi won back-to-back world junior championships as well in 2018 and 2019.
Call it a Curling Controversy
Controversies don’t hit the sport often, but the “Broomgate” dilemma of 2015-16 made headlines everywhere.
New broomheads that featured a high-tech fabric caused a stir that winter as it allowed sweepers to control the path of a stone to a level that was perceived unfair by many elite-level curlers. The importance of skill and shot-making ability was lessened with the ability to “steer” the stone down the ice, causing anger and frustration amongst the curling ranks.
"It was just no fun last year," Chelsea Carey told The Canadian Press. "There was a lot more animosity and tension than I've seen in a long time."
As a result, Curling Canada banned the broomheads and implemented new rules in which all curlers were forced to use broomheads made of the same fabric and colour, putting everybody on the same playing field.