LETHBRIDGE, Alta., — As the Swedish anthem rained down from the speakers of the Enmax Centre Sunday night during the post-game ceremony, Nik Edin stood atop the podium overrun with emotion.
He’s the men’s world champion again after defeating Canada’s Kevin Koe 7-2 in nine ends. But this one meant just a little bit more.
“I almost started crying after the win, actually,” Edin said. “It felt really special, this one.”
Edin is now the only curler outside of Canada to have captured four world curling titles. Five others have done it: Randy Ferbey, Glenn Howard and Ernie, Arnold and Garnet Richardson.
It’s fitting that three of Edin’s wins have been captured on Canadian soil.
He spent countless hours as a child in Sweden watching old Brier VHS tapes to better understand the game. He modeled his approach to curling after legendary Canadian skip Kevin Martin — and now he’s defeated Canadian curling teams to claim the past two world championships.
“This was probably the sweetest win of my career. We’ve never played better than this for an event. It felt like we were dominating the whole week,” Edin said.
The Swedish curling king saved some of his best for last. He curled 90 per cent in Sunday’s championship game against Canada. It was a cautious battle for the first seven ends, with the score tied 2-2 and Canada holding hammer.
That’s when the game’s turning point happened.
Broken handle delays game
Just as Edin was preparing to throw his final rock in the eighth end, he noticed his two sweepers signalling for a technical timeout.
The handle on his rock was broken and needed to be fixed. Normally it would be a quick repair. On Sunday night, during that pressure-packed moment, it took much longer.
“The handle broke. It took like five minutes. Honestly, I’ve never been that nervous in my life,” Edin said.
Finally, after the delay, Edin settled in and delivered a perfect double takeout.
WATCH | Edin uses late steals to beat Koe for world title:
Kevin Koe’s run at the world men’s curling championships came up a bit short as his Canadian rink fell to Niklas Edin’s Swedish rink 7-2 in the men’s final. 1:58
“It was not a welcomed delay. I was trying to clear my head. It worked out but definitely not a great feeling.”
That left Koe a difficult draw to the button looking at two Swedish stones, buried behind guards. He was forced to draw for a single on a sheet of ice that had been sitting during the wait.
His rock came to a screeching halt short of the four-foot and Canada gave up a steal of two. That made it 4-2 for Sweden.
“There’s nothing you can do. I felt fine. The only thing is you don’t know what the ice has done. We got a perfect time on it,” Koe said. “You never know if that mattered or not but it definitely didn’t help.”
Koe reacts to a missed shot during the loss to Sweden. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)
Canadian lead Ben Hebert was not mincing his words.
“That was a bit of a joke. The ice sits. Kevin threw it perfect. And then we just lost it because of the frost,” Hebert said. “When the ice sits it gets slower. It’s not an excuse it was just unfortunate it had to happen like that.”
Edin knew how big that moment was.
“When we got that steal of two we knew we were going to win. It just felt amazing and so emotional,” Edin said.
With the Canadians in desperation mode in the ninth, Koe tried a miracle shot with his last rock trying to remove four Swedish stones and missed. It gave Sweden a steal of three and sealed the 7-2 victory.
The Swedish squad of Edin, Oskar Eriksson, Rasmus Wrana and Christoffer Sundgren were nearly perfect the entire week as the team finished 13-1 to claim the 2019 title.
For the Canadians, the loss was severely disappointing. Kevin Koe wanted to win at home in front of family and friends — it was his first world curling championship on home soil in his four appearances.
All week long, Koe was at his sharpest in pulling off unfathomable shots to guide Canada. But the magic dried up when it mattered most.
“It sucks,” Koe said. “We wanted to win this so badly and it’s very disappointing. We’re pretty deflated. After the eighth we felt terrible — a steal of two was disappointing. It’s unfortunate, but they’re a great team.”
In their first season together, Koe, B.J. Neufeld, Colton Flasch and Hebert put together a remarkable year. They had to win five consecutive games just to escape Alberta and make it to the Brier.
Then they went undefeated, a perfect 13-0, in Brandon, Man., to claim the men’s Canadian championship. That led them just down the road from their home club in Calgary to Lethbridge, where they donned the Maple Leaf.
It’s curling success they’ll be proud of in the weeks that follow. But for now, they’ll wonder what might have been after a championship loss.
“Win the Brier and second in the world championship — you can only ask for one more thing, right?” Koe said. “It’s a pretty good accomplishment for this team, but it’s hard to put it in perspective right now. We really wanted to win this, and it’s a little deflating the way it all ended.”
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