OAKVILLE, Ont. — Anna Hasselborg said Sunday’s final at the Oakville OCT Fall Classic against compatriot Isabella Wrana almost felt like the Swedish national championships.
Both Hasselborg and Wrana are among the top teams in Sweden and the Canadian kickoff of the World Curling Tour served as a preview of what to expect later this season.
It was Hasselborg’s time to shine this weekend though as her team featuring third Sara McManus, second Agnes Knochenhauer, and lead Sofia Mabergs capped an undefeated 7-0 run through the tournament with a 6-2 victory in seven ends over Wrana.
“It actually felt like the Swedish championship or something so that was really nice because it was a really important win for us,” Hasselborg said. “It’s fun.”
Sara McManus, Anna Hasselborg, Agnes Knochenhauer, and Sofia Mabergs at the Oakville OCT Fall Classic. (Photo: Jonathan Brazeau)
Team Hasselborg entered the tournament ranked 22nd on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit (OOM) — one spot behind the top rink in Sweden, Team Margaretha Sigfridsson — but the win gave Hasselborg 35.237 points to climb up into 17th place. Hasselborg said she looks forward to the chase to qualify for the European Championships, which take place in late November.
“It’s actually pretty big for us because every point is counting to go to Europeans, which is the main goal for us this season,” Hasselborg said. “So to go out and win in the first competition is pretty much amazing.”
“If you have good teams you will be good at the Europeans and the worlds,” she explained. “I’m just welcoming the competition and let the best team win.”
Hasselborg opened the scoring with a single in the first end making two counters disappear with a slash double on her final stone. Wrana blanked the second but fell into trouble in the third end as she faced three when throwing her last and gave up a steal of two.
Wrana got on the board with a point in the fourth end trailing 3-1.
Things almost went sideways for Hasselborg after the break though. Her last rock in the fifth end picked and she had to settle for a single then her second skip stone in six clipped a guard with Wrana already sitting shot. However, Wrana couldn’t capitalize as her draw came up short and Hasselborg held a two-point lead.
Hasselborg only needed to hit the paint with her last in seven to score a deuce and out came the handshakes.
It was an impressive run for the 19-year-old Wrana, who was ranked 44th on the WCT’s OOM prior to the event and is still eligible to compete in juniors. Wrana slid into the playoffs with a 2-2 round-robin record and upset Allison Flaxey of Caledon, Ont., 5-3 during the quarterfinals. A 9-6 extra-end victory over American Jamie Sinclair set up the all-Swedish rink women’s final.
Wrana earned 27.686 points to vault up to 27th on the OOM.
Meanwhile, Kyle Smith of Scotland also ran the table at 7-0 on the men’s side topping American Heath McCormick 7-2 in seven ends to win the title.
“I’m really pleased with how we played,” Smith said. “The ice has been really good and we played as well as we could really.”
Skip Kyle Smith, third Thomas Muirhead, coach Viktor Kjell, second Kyle Waddell, and lead Cammy Smith at the Oakville OCT Fall Classic. (Photo: Jonathan Brazeau)
Smith built an early four-point lead with a deuce in the first followed by back-to-back single steals as McCormick overcurled with his last in the second end and flashed his final stone in the third.
McCormick bounced back in the fourth end by raising his own stone to tap out Smith’s rock and count two cutting the deficit in half 4-2.
It was all Team Smith from there, however, as they scored a point in five and added another round of consecutive single steals in six and seven to ice the game.
The win follows a quarterfinal finish for Team Smith at the Baden Masters in Switzerland last weekend to open their season.
Smith credits the bond among his teammates third Thomas Muirhead, second Kyle Waddell, and lead Cammy Smith, who won the World Junior Curling Championship together in 2013.
“We all know each other really well,” he said. “We’ve played together for a long time. We’ve been practising hard and it’s good that the hard work is paying off.”
No rest for the world’s best though as both Hasselborg and Smith will be back in action on this very same rink for the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard starting Thursday. Hasselborg will actually squeeze in a mid-week event in Kitchener playing against men’s teams.
“We’ll probably just relax for a day or so and then back in on Tuesday practice I think trying to get ready for next weekend,” Smith said. “It’s a tough competition so we hope to take some momentum into that.”