Canada’s golden curling hopes dashed in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK – For the second FISU World University Games in a row, Team Canada won’t finish the tournament with a curling gold medal, as both the men’s and women’s teams saw their hopes dashed before the final. 

Canada’s women’s team, Team Abby Marks, failed to make it out of the preliminary stages, ending their tournament with a 4-5 record. Meanwhile, on the men’s side, Team Owen Purcell fell to Team GB in the semifinal and will play for the bronze medal. 

2003 was the last time Canada struck gold in the women’s competition, with skip Mike McCewan, lead Nolan Thiessen, second Sheldon Wettig, third Denni Neufeld, and alternate Marc Kennedy — members of that team have gone on to Brier, Olympic and World Championship podiums since their University Games victory.

While Canada has struggled on the Olympic level, it’s translated to the University Games, as global curling catches up and passes a game that has held a special place in the Canadian sporting realm for generations.

Team Owen Purcell of Dalhousie University punched their ticket to the semifinals ahead of their final preliminary draw but fell to Team GB to end the round-robin, setting up a rematch in the semifinals on Thursday night. 

They blanked the first two ends, with Team GB getting scoring points in the second end, but it was a three-point fifth end for the British that put the game out of reach for Canada, despite strong throws and sitting one on the second last rock, without the hammer in the eighth end. 

Team GB came away 6-4 victors.

“It didn’t quite go our way, and we ran into a really hot Great Britain team today. Honestly, hats off to them. They played a really solid game, and we didn’t quite play well enough to take this one away from them,” Purcell told Curling Canada. 

“They definitely deserve the win, and I’m really proud of the guys because they left it all out there, and I’m looking forward to playing in the bronze-medal game tomorrow.”

Team Canada, led by Purcell, alongside vice-skip Jeffrey Meagher, second Adam McEachren, lead David McCurdy, and alternate Caelan McPherson, now moves on to face Switzerland in the bronze medal game at 7:00 pm ET on Friday. 

Yet for Purcell and McPherson, there’s some experience with bronze medal games in national team colours, having represented Canada to a bronze medal at the 2022 World Junior Championships. 

While Canada hasn’t won gold in men’s curling since 2003 with the star-studded rink, they reached the silver medal at the last Games of Krasnoyarsk 2019.

Canada’s golden drought in FISU Games curling may continue on for another two years until Torino 2025, but ending the Lake Placid Games with a bronze medal would be a valuable solace for the Purcell’s Dalhousie rink.

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