BASEL, Switzerland—Kevin Koe took a chance when he left the team he skipped to victory at the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier to form a new squad with an eye on qualifying for the next Winter Olympics.
His results this season have gone a long way toward backing up his decision.
Koe led Canada to its first men’s world curling title in four years with a 5-3 win over an inexperienced but tough Denmark team in yesterday’s gold-medal game at St. Jakobshalle arena.
Canada scored a decisive two points in the ninth when Danish skip Rasmus Stjerne, who was brilliant all week, barely missed on a double-runback raise attempt, giving Koe an open draw.
After a disappointing first season together, Koe and his Calgary-based team—vice-skip Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing, and lead Ben Hebert—have rounded into top form.
“This is why we put this team together,” said Koe. “This is it, this is amazing.
“And there’s more in the tank,” he added. “We have things to improve on.
“Honestly, though, you couldn’t write a better script for all we’ve gone through this year.”
Koe qualified for the world championship by leading Alberta to a 9-5 win over Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue in the final of this year’s Brier.
His team continued to roll in Basel—losing just one game to defending champion Sweden en route to claiming Canada’s 35th world title.
“We put a lot of hard work into it,” Koe stressed.
“Last year was a bit of a struggle and we made some changes [Kennedy moved to vice-skip], and they’re paying off,” he added.
It’s only our second year playing together, and with more time, I think we’ll get better.”
Denmark proved a difficult opponent for Canada over the course of the tournament.
Canada needed an extra end to defeat the Danes 11-8 in round-robin play, then broke open a close match late in Canada’s 5-3 win over Stjerne in the 1-2 Page playoff.
“It was a battle today, they’re a good young team,” Koe said. “It wasn’t flashy but it was solid, and what a feeling,” he added.
“It’s so hard to win the Brier, so you just want to win the worlds when you get here, and it feels awesome.”
Denmark was making its first appearance in the final in 39 tournaments.
“I’m sad right now,” said Stjerne. “I thought we played a good game.
“My shot in the ninth, it was there really and then we just let it slide away.
“I’m gutted right now, but in a few days from now I think I’ll be proud of what we did,” he added.
Earlier yesterday, John Shuster of the U.S. won the bronze medal by beating Japan’s Yusuke Morozumi 8-6.