OLDS, Alta. — Karsten Sturmay picked his first win ever in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling series with his Edmonton club during Draw 6 action Wednesday at the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup.
Sturmay scored a single in the eighth end to upset reigning Canadian champions Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., 5-4 at the Olds Sportsplex.
The 25-year-old Sturmay qualified for the GSOC season finale by winning the Boston Pizza Alberta Tour Championship last month and is supported by third J.D. Lind, second Kyle Doering and lead Glenn Venance.
“It feels incredible,” Sturmay said. “That’s our first Slam victory as a team, obviously the first Slam that we’re competing in, and it feels really good.
“I guess it’s every curler’s dream, especially when they’re around our age to compete against the world’s best, and today we just beat one of the world’s best.”
Sturmay added that winning the draw-to-the-button shootout to secure the hammer to start was a “huge advantage” as he was able to convert for a deuce in the second end and never trailed.
The teams traded singles back and forth in the third and fourth and Gushue drew for a deuce in the fifth that knotted it up 3-3. The see-saw continued with lone points in six and seven as Sturmay held the hammer coming home tied.
“I feel like we put together a good start to the game, got an early lead and then it was gritty,” Sturmay said. “Obviously, you knew playing a world-class team, they’re going to come back and they’re going to put points on the board. We hung on and finished it off with a draw to the four-foot.”
Sturmay was clutch in the final frame pulling off a runback on his first skip shot to eliminate two Gushue stones before making the aforementioned draw that Doering and Venance dragged in just enough.
“Not to shove rainbows up my butt but both of those shots were pretty good,” Sturmay said with a smile. “It was a long run followed by a draw to the side of the four-foot but I feel like in those moments you’ve got to trust the process. I have two fantastic sweepers, especially with that last one, and a fantastic line-caller in J.D. So throw it close, let the boys manage and they did a great job.”
Lind is more known on the Slam circuit as the coach for Satsuki Fujisawa’s team from Japan and earned praise from his skip for stepping in as a super spare this week.
“He has a wealth of experience, he’s seen a million rocks coming down at him, so he’s a fantastic line-caller,” Sturmay said. “Obviously, wicked smart, understands the game well and a good shooter too, holy moly. Especially for a guy who maybe hasn’t played competitively much, but he’s a shooter.”
Both Sturmay and Gushue are now level in pool play with identical 1-1 records.
Meanwhile, reigning Olympic and world champions Team Niklas Edin of Sweden climbed to a 2-0 record with a 6-4 victory over Team Korey Dropkin (0-2) from the United States.
In the women’s division, Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., stole two in the eighth end to stop South Korea’s Team Un-Chi Gim 5-3 and Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg topped Denmark’s Team Madeleine Dupont 8-5.
Hasselborg, who captured the Princess Auto Players’ Championship two weeks ago, moved up to a 2-0 record while Fleury, Gim and Dupont are all at 1-1.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup continues with Draw 7 starting at 8 p.m. local time.
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 with the quarterfinals and semifinals scheduled for Saturday and both finals set for Sunday.
Live coverage of the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup begins Thursday at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
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.