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No easy games at men's world curling

Bruce Penton breaks down the movers and shakers at the men's curling championship in Schaffhausen, Switzerland
bruce penton sports

Based on historic results that show Canada has won 36 world titles, 25 more than the next-best country, Canada’s Brad Gushue, who defeated Saskatchewan’s Mike McEwen for the 2024 Brier title, should win this year’s men’s world curling championship in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Based on recent history, however, the odds-on favourite to win the event that starts this weekend would be Niklas Edin of Sweden, who has won four of the past five titles. But based on current excellence, the favourite should be Italy’s Joel Retornaz, who skips the No. 1-ranked team in the world. And if recent play in the Grand Slam of Curling events should be considered, watch out for Bruce Mouat's Scottish entry. Then there’s the U.S., which won the Olympic gold medal in men’s curling in 2018 and will send veteran John Shuster to this year’s worlds. And if home-ice advantage is at all a factor, then watch out for the Swiss entry skipped by Yannick Schwaller.

In other words, it’s wide open. The oddsmakers in Vegas would be perplexed about setting gambling lines, but one thing is for sure: The curling talent gathering in Schaffhausen should guarantee a great event.

Gushue will wear Canada’s colours for the sixth time, and third straight. The game hasn’t been kind to him at the worlds, however, with only one championship to his credit. But he is the most experienced Canadian skip and with rink-mates Mark Nichols, E.J. Harnden and Geoff Walker, a podium finish is almost guaranteed. Besides his lone world championship, Gushue also has three runners-up finishes — all to Edin, which is the foundation for one of the sport’s great all-time rivalries.

Retornaz won four bonspiels this season, three on the Grand Slam circuit in Canada and one in Europe, the Baden Masters. Winning the world title this year would be an astounding accomplishment, considering Italy is one of five countries to have never won at the world level (Germany, Denmark, Finland and France are the others). As well, the next Winter Olympic Games will be held in February, 2026, in Milan, Italy, and what a special treat it would be for Retornaz to represent his country knowing he has a world title on his resume.

Scotland and Sweden can never be counted out at the world championship. Edin has won six world championships and Mouat, the Scottish rep, is the defending world champ. (Strange how Scotland picks its representative: Mouat lost in the semi-finals of the Scottish championship, eventually won by Ross Whyte, but Scottish Curling decided that Mouat should represent the country at the world event.)

And if the Swedish, Italian, Scottish, Swiss and American competitors weren’t enough to give Gushue sleepless nights, rinks representing South Korea and Japan have been showing great improvement in recent years. It’s a wide-open competition, and Gushue is 43 years old and nearing the end of his dominant days, so Canadian curling fans will be rooting for him to add one more title to his resume.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 




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