Olympic re­turn looks dim for Ja­cobs

Waterloo Region Record - - SPORTS - Gregory Strong

OT­TAWA — The reign­ing Olympic men’s curl­ing cham­pi­ons were perfect at the Tim Hor­tons Roar of the Rings the last time around.

The 2017 Tri­als have been far less kind to Brad Ja­cobs and his team from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Chances of a re­peat ap­pear­ance at the Win­ter Games were all but dashed Thurs­day as Ja­cobs dropped a 9-5 de­ci­sion to Reid Car­ruthers. The loss left Ja­cobs at 2-4 with only a slim chance of mak­ing it to a tiebreaker game.

“It’s a big sur­prise, it’s an in­cred­i­ble sur­prise,” said Team Ja­cobs coach Caleb Flaxey.

“We didn’t ex­pect to be in this sit­u­a­tion.”

Kevin Koe (7-0) booked a spot in the men’s fi­nal with a 7-4 vic­tory over John Mor­ris in the af­ter­noon. Fel­low Cal­gary skip Chelsea Carey (6-0) is guar­an­teed no worse than a tiebreaker ap­pear­ance af­ter a 9-8 win over Julie Tip­pin.

Krista McCarville of Thun­der Bay, Ont., im­proved her play­off chances with a 5-3 win over Win­nipeg’s Jen­nifer Jones. Edmonton’s Bren­dan Bottcher re­mained in the mix af­ter edg­ing Toronto’s John Ep­ping, 7-6 in an ex­tra end.

Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., and Win­nipeg’s Mike McEwen were tied for sec­ond place in the men’s stand­ings at 4-2. Car­ruthers, from Win­nipeg, was next at 4-3, fol­lowed by Bottcher at 3-3. Lay­cock, from Saska­toon, and Ja­cobs were at 2-4. Mor­ris, from Ver­non, B.C., and Ep­ping were elim­i­nated from play­off con­tention at 1-5.

Carey gave up a four-point sec­ond end to Tip­pin but chipped away at the deficit, even­tu­ally steal­ing three points in the 10th for the win. “Def­i­nitely lucky to pull that one out but we’ll take it,” Carey said.

A vis­i­bly frus­trated Tip­pin, from Wood­stock, Ont., did not stop to speak with re­porters af­ter the game.

En­ter­ing evening play, Ot­tawa’s Rachel Ho­man was alone in sec­ond place at 5-1. She was fol­lowed by Jones at 5-2 and McCarville at 4-2.

Edmonton’s Val Sweet­ing was also still in the mix at 3-3. The other women’s teams in the field will not play on the week­end.

Win­nipeg’s Michelle En­glot (2-4) posted an 8-7 win over Toronto’s Al­li­son Flaxey (0-7) in morn­ing play. Casey Schei­deg­ger of Leth­bridge, Alta., was 2-4 and Tip­pin, from Wood­stock, Ont., dropped to 1-5.

Ja­cobs, mean­while, ran the ta­ble four years ago in Win­nipeg and went on to take gold at the Sochi Games. He played well in wins over Mor­ris and Gushue in round-robin play at Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre but will look back at a stun­ning miss against Koe as a turning point.

Brad Ja­cobs

Reid Car­ruthers

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