Sport fans may be glued to their television sets with NCAA March Madness in full swing, but Canada will have its own Cinderella story to follow heading to the World Men’s Curling Championships in Victoria, BC in Brad Jacobs and his Sault Ste. Marie curling team.
Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) and his rink consisting of third Ryan Fry (Winnipeg, MN), second E.J. Harnden (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) and lead Ryan Harnden (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) were the talk of the Curling world after their impressive run at the 2013 Brier Curling Championships.
Representing Northern Ontario, Jacobs’ managed to squeak into the playoffs with a fourth place finish after round play just ahead of Olympic champion Kevin Martin (Killiam, AB). From there started a remarkable run where he defeated 2006 Olympic Champion Brad Gushue (St. John’s, NL) in the 3-4 page playoffs, four-time world champion Glenn Howard (Midland, ON) in the semis and two-time world champion Jeff Stoughton (Winnipeg, MB) in the finals to win the title just one year removed after finishing with a record of 5-6 at the Brier and failing to make the playoffs.
“It hasn’t even sunk in,” said Jacobs after the 9-4 victory at the Brier finals. “E.J. (Harnden) said it best after the game when he said it felt like we won a men’s league game. It’s crazy we just won the Brier…We were the underdogs coming in.”
With the victory, Jacobs won the right to represent Canada at Worlds for the first time in his career. To make the trip sweeter, the team will be able to clinch an Olympic qualification spot for Canada on home soil when nation’s gather at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria from Mar. 30 to Apr. 7.
Last year, Howard’s rink captured gold at the 2012 Worlds in Basel, Switzerland and were awarded the maximum 14 qualification points toward claiming a spot for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. A solid outing by Jacobs’ rink would all but officially solidify Canada’s spot in the 10 team field next year.
Notable competition awaits the Canadians including two-time world champion David Murdoch of Scotland, Thomas Ulsrud of Norway making his eight world championship appearance and Sweden’s Niklas Edin who finished fourth in Vancouver.
Canada open’s up the tournament on Mar. 30 against China at 5 p.m. EST time. The schedule for all Canadian matches can be viewed here.