OLDS, Alta. — Happy birthday, Anna Hasselborg and Agnes Knochenhauer.
Both the skip and the second for Sweden’s Team Hasselborg celebrated their 33rd birthdays in style Thursday securing a nice present with a playoff berth in the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup undefeated at 4-0.
Hasselborg earned her second victory of the day during the evening draw by scoring two points in an extra end to clip Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni 8-6 at the Olds Sportsplex.
“We really like the ice here and we’re having a lot of fun,” said Hasselborg, who cruised to a 10-3 win over Saskatoon’s Amber Holland in the early afternoon draw. “It feels really good to be out here with the girls, having fun on your birthday. Great two wins today.”
Team Hasselborg have continued their winning ways from last month’s Princess Auto Players’ Championship in Toronto where they became the first women’s club to capture all four majors in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling series.
“I think what we found in the late stages of the Players’ last time, we’ve just kept that going,” Hasselborg said. “I think the right mindset to tackle these late events in the Olympic cycle is to have a lot of fun, enjoy yourself out there and we’re definitely doing that.
“We’re just going to keep that up. It’s a great crowd and feels really great to just be out there playing.”
The momentum in the match swung like a pendulum with Tirinzoni (3-1) stealing two points to start after Hasselborg was heavy on her last shot of the opening frame. Hasselborg regrouped and hit to score three in the second and then limited Tirinzoni to one point in the third, however, a steal in the fourth made it 4-3 for the Swiss side entering the break.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion Hasselborg got back on track with a deuce in the sixth and a steal in the seventh but needed to make a game-saver with her last in the eighth to freeze out Team Tirinzoni from scoring the winning three points. Team Tirinzoni fourth Alina Paetz was only able to draw for the tying two points that forced the extra end.
Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin also clinched a playoff spot undefeated at 4-0 as well after doubling up on Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat 8-4 in a rematch, but no repeat, of last month’s Princess Auto Players’ Championship men’s final with slightly different lineups.
Team Edin was back playing as a foursome with lead Christoffer Sundgren returning to the lineup earlier this week from a lower-body injury while Ross Whyte is subbing for Team Mouat third Grant Hardie (personal commitments).
The reigning Olympic and world champion Edin rushed out of the gate scoring three points in the first, forcing Mouat to a single in the second and adding another trey in the third for an early 6-1 hold. The momentum swung briefly for Mouat (2-2) as he took two in the fourth and stole one in the fifth, but Edin added a deuce in the sixth.
Mouat, who captured his fifth Grand Slam title at the Players’ Championship, didn’t bother throwing his last in the seventh and shook hands early.
Meanwhile, nobody beats Kevin Koe nine times in a row, apparently.
Brad Gushue had won eight straight games against Koe dating back to last season, but the streak was snapped Thursday night. Koe and his Calgary club were finally able to solve Gushue’s crew from St. John’s, N.L., 8-5.
The teams entered with identical records and Koe climbed to 3-1 while Gushue is now even at 2-2.
Perhaps the draw-to-the-button shootout was a harbinger as lead Ben Hebert landed on the lid to secure the hammer and the two-point conversion was good as Koe drew to score a deuce in the opening end.
Gushue hit to take two points back in the second to tie it, but Koe was able to chip off his own to get the split and score another pair in the third to go up 4-2.
After singles back and forth, it looked like Koe had the momentum in the sixth, however, Gushue got lucky on his first skip stone clipping off one guard and raising another that then took out two of Koe’s stones. Koe made a great draw to hide for shot rock but Gushue was able to bump another guard back and take out the counter to get a skip’s deuce from almost out of nowhere to tie it 5-5.
Two can play at that game and Koe managed a great one of his own in the seventh to double out Gushue’s rocks and roll across the house to get his shooter out to blank and retain the hammer coming home.
The magic ran out for Gushue in the eighth end as his shot rock was left exposed allowing Koe to punch it out and tack two points on the board.
Elsewhere, Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul held off Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli 5-3 in an all-Manitoba matchup. Einarson held the hammer coming home down by one but her final rock rolled heavy. Both teams now hold 3-1 records as Einarson sustained her first defeat while Fleury has now won three straight.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup continues Friday with Draw 12 at 8:30 a.m. local time with broadcast coverage resuming for Draw 13 at 2 p.m. ET / noon local time on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
Tickets are available at the Olds Sportsplex box office and online at champions.goigniter.com.
Both divisions are split into two groups of six for pool play. The best six teams overall qualify for the playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals.
Pool play runs through to Friday evening with the quarterfinals and semifinals scheduled for Saturday and both finals set for Sunday.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup is the fourth and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the 2021-22 season featuring 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams who have won top tour titles in order to qualify. … A combined $210,000 prize purse is up for grabs with the winning teams earning $25,000 plus berths to next year’s KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup.