Sweden Clinches First Overall Into Worlds Playoffs

Team Sweden skip Niklas Edin (Photo by Steve Seixeiro, World Curling Federation) and his team are a road weary bunch of warriors at this point in the season.

By Price Atkinson

LAS VEGAS - They played the last Grand Slam "Elite 10" in Winnipeg, flew home to play and win Sweden's national championship and then immediately headed this way to Las Vegas.

After spending the last three to four weeks flying back and forth from North America to Sweden, the Olympic silver medalists have stayed upright long enough to put together an 11-1 mark in round-robin play at the World Men's Curling Championship. They clinched the No. 1 seed and will play in the semifinals tomorrow at 4:30 pm (EST).

"It's been an exhausting couple of weeks lately," Edin said after defeating Japan 7-4 in their last round-robin game earlier today. "Especially after the Olympics, I think with that loss it made it all tougher. If we had won that gold, I think we would've been happy to be exhausted by now. It's been tough. I hope we have enough energy left in the tank."

The Swedes have had plenty of energy thus far, going thru the round robin with only one blemish. That came in a 5-3 defeat to Norway earlier this week.

However, Team Edin capped a fantastic week this morning with a 6-5 win over Canada's Team Gushue, as Edin's draw to the four-foot in the tenth. As expected, it was a heavyweight battle both a triple in the first end by the Swedes was ultimately the difference.

Scotland tied Sweden with an 11-1 record but thanks to a 7-6 win over Team Mouat, Edin and crew will be the top-seeded when the playoffs begin Saturday at Orleans Arena.

"Losing that game in the middle of the round robin there we kind of felt like we let it slip away because Scotland kept winning their games," Edin said. "We were pretty much forced this morning to beat Canada and we felt like we could do so. But you always know they're gonna be great out there, so you have to have one of your better games to have a chance at beating them. When we did that, we felt like we could put it into a bit of an energy-saving mode."

Lead Christoffer Sundren echoed his skip after the win over Japan just how worn he and his teammates are right now as the grind of a long World Championship week has unfolded.

"It's exhausting. We get more tired midweek than we usually do," Sundgren said. "We're an experienced team, know what to do and how to prepare for the games."

"I've hardly seen them because as soon as we have some time to rest I've just been back to my bed," Edin added. "I haven't slept much but I've tried to rest every minute I can. Even during games actually, I kind of find myself zoning out a little bit and trying to save energy and mental strength because I know we'll need it in the playoffs."

Team Edin has jumped on teams all week and are always most dangerous when playing with an early lead. When starting with hammer this week, the Swedes have scored in the first end of every game except one.

"We have come out strong in pretty much every game and kept on rolling," Sundgren said. "Once we get the lead we're very tough to beat. We know that and every opponent knows that. We have to make the difficult shots and we're satisfied with how its been so far."

Despite the exhaustion of a long season that included the Winter Olympics, Team Edin is still driven this week by the near miss for gold in PyeongChang.

"I think we were the team that played the best curling during the Olympics and not winning the gold, you know it's just one game in the final," Edin said. "That was really disappointing obviously. We just felt if we kept doing more of the same, we can't have bad finals every time.

"We know we've won before and we can do it again. We've proved a lot to ourselves this week that we're a solid team and I hope we can get another chance at winning the title."

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