Snitil's Czech rink comes back to beat Canada at men's worlds

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The Canadian Press
4/3/2013 1:25:18 AM
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VICTORIA -- Canada is no longer perfect at the world men's curling championships.

But Brad Jacobs's Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., rink still enjoyed some good fortune Tuesday, remaining alone in first place.

Jacobs bounced back from his first loss by downing Norway's Thomas Ulsrud 10-7 -- and got plenty of help from rivals as their losses kept him ahead of the pack.

"It was really nice to come back and play well after this morning's game," said Jacobs, whose rink improved to 6-1. "And, Norway's a great team, so it's a really big win for us."

Jacobs and Ulsrud, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist waged a shot-making battle until the pivotal ninth end when Canada scored three to break a 7-7 tie.

"It was an up-and-down game," said Ulsrud, whose rink fell to 4-3. "There (were) some good shots and some really bad ones. I think we made too many mistakes to beat Canada."

With the score tied in the ninth, Canada was lying two, with one rock at the front of the 12-foot and another at the back, when Ulsrud decided to calll a timeout. But the strategy session did not produce dividends.

Ulsrud barely got has last shot into the 12-foot, and Jacobs calmly drew for three to go ahead 10-7. Canada then ran Norway out of rocks in the 10th.

"It was a great battle, and the crowd really helped us in that one," said Jacobs. "We love that. We may not smile, because we're trying to stay focused -- but, man, it's awesome."

Just before completing the victory, Jacobs caught his last of many breaks on the day as Brady Clark of the U.S. upset Scotland's David Murdoch 8-6. As a result, Scotland remained in a three-way tie with Sweden and Denmark as they all sported 5-2 records.

Clark also helped Canada earlier by beating China.

"I'm trying to help myself," said Clark, who picked up his second win of the day after an embarrassing six-end loss to Canada the night before.

"I don't want to be selfish. Certainly, Canada, if they're happy that I won great. I'm here to make the playoffs."

The Americans improved to 3-4.

In other evening play, Denmark defeated Japan 7-4 and Switzerland beat Finland 7-5.

Jacobs moved closer to clinching a playoff berth as his day ended much better than it began. Jiri Snitil of the Czech Republic beat him 6-4 in the morning draw, handing Canada its first loss after five straight victories.

The loss ended Jacobs's winning streak at 11 games dating to the Brier, and terminated Canada's tenure as the last unbeaten rink in the 12-nation event.

"It was their day," Jacobs said. "It wasn't ours. It's very frustrating -- and a horrible performance."

But the damage to Canada could have been much worse. Three of Jacobs's rivals lost in the afternoon, so the Canadian rink's struggles were not as untimely as they might have been.

Niklas Edin's Swedish rink was upset 10-8 by Japan. China failed to keep pace with Canada as Rui Liu's previously consistent rink was hammered 10-4 by the Americans.

It was China's second loss of the day after Liu fell 5-4 to Norway in the morning.

Even the Czechs (3-4) helped the Canadians later as they fell 6-5 to Denmark's Rasmus Stjerne in the afternoon.

Until then, the Czechs appeared poised for a rise as they ended Jacobs's win streak, which included six straight victories at the Brier in early March.

"It's super beating one of the best teams in the world," said Snitil, before he was disappointed later.

The Czechs, coached by Daniel Rafael, a 51-year-old Montreal native, are hoping for a good showing here to boost their chances of qualifying for the 2014 Sochi Olympics under a complicated points system.

Rafael is used to getting good results against Canada. While he was coaching in China, his teams beat the likes of Canadian powerhouse rinks skipped by Kevin Martin and Jennifer Jones.

"It just seems like whenever Canada loses their first game, it's usually against a team I'm coaching," Rafael said.

Eight wins are considered the total necessary to qualify for the playoffs. Canada has a chance to reach that mark Wednesday against Japan (2-5) and Russia (1-6).

Jiri Snitil  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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