CURLING: Guyana wins silver at WCF America’s Challenge
The Guyana Men’s Curling Team led by Rayad Husain made history in many ways this past weekend in Chaska, Minnesota, USA. Not only was this the first time that Guyana fielded a four-person curling team, but the quartet managed to claim its first victory in the discipline.
The WCF America’s Challenge was played between the United States (Rich Ruohonen, Skip), Brazil (Marcelo Mello, Skip), and Guyana. This was the first time that three nations contested for the title after Brazil challenged the United States on five previous occasions, and Canada once last season.
The winner of the America’s Challenge claims the second America’s region spot at the World Curling Championship, while the runner-up qualifies for the World Qualification Event (a “second chance” event that qualifies two teams to the World Championships).
Guyana started the event against the reigning American Champions on Saturday morning. The Americans came into the championship in good form having made the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam of Curling Event in Thunder Bay the previous weekend, and were the undisputed favourites. The Guyanese men still trying to gel and find form lost the opening contest 2:13 after just six ends.
The Saturday afternoon encounter against Brazil was more closely contested. The Brazilians with a markedly more experienced side started off well leading 5:1 after three ends. However, the Guyanese side clawed back with a deuce in the fourth end, and then a steal of two in the fifth to level up.
The game was a see-saw affair thereafter. In the 10th end, Brazil managed to score a single point to level the score at 9:9, but Guyana had the all-important last rock in the 10th end. It was there that the team seized control, and the Brazilian skip tried to play an angle double with just seven seconds left on their clock, but it just missed, and left Guyana lying one to secure the 10:9 victory, and the first win for a Guyanese men’s team in international play.
The double round-robin event continued on Sunday morning with the first game once again against the USA. This one was a more closely contested affair with Guyana managing to steal a point in the third end to tie it up at 2-2. However, the Americans showed their experience and class by scoring five to break the game open, and ran to a 9:3 victory after six.
The final game of the tournament was against the Brazilians. The first two ends featured missed opportunities by both sides to score a deuce, but the Guyanese managed to take advantage of their opportunity in the third end and led 3:1.
After five ends, Guyana had a 3:2 lead and the last rock control heading into the second half, but a poor end led to a steal of one for the Brazilians and a 3:3 tie. After Brazil took two in the eighth end and moved ahead 5:4, a tough ninth end followed for the Guyanese which resulted in a steal of two for Brazil and 7:4 lead after nine ends.
It looked like the result was sealed, and Brazil would earn the first international men’s victory in their history. However, the Guyanese team stayed calm and focused on each shot. They got their break when Marcelo Mello (now playing third stones in this game, with Michael Krähenbühl playing skip) jammed his takeout attempt and left Guyana lying two in behind a centre guard.
After a nice draw shot by Guyana’s third, Jason Perreira, the Brazilians missed their last two stones, allowing Rayad Husain the draw for four and the win which stopped just in time, and allowed Guyana to claim the final win in dramatic fashion 8:7.
The Guyanese ended the event with a silver medal, and thus earned the America’s zone spot at the World Championship Qualification Event in Naseby, New Zealand, in January. However, the team prior to the event decided that due to financial (all players self-funded) and time considerations that they would not play in this event as they would like to ensure that they are adequately prepared as a team to take on more higher ranked competition. Brazil will claim the spot instead.
The team and Guyana Curling Federation would like to thank their sponsor, Rock Solid Productions Inc., as well as the USCA, WCF, Chaska Curling Center, and Four Seasons Curling Club for their hard work to put on the event and for the training ice to prepare a couple days before the start of the event.
The next WCF event that will feature Guyana will be the World Mixed Doubles in April in Stavanger, Norway.
FINAL RANKINGS (Draw Shot Challenge in Brackets)
Gold Medal – United States of America – four wins, 0 defeats (127.88 cm) -> Qualified for World Men’s Championship 2019
Silver Medal – Guyana – two wins, two defeats (73.03 cm)
Bronze Medal – Brazil – zero wins, four defeats (90.43 cm) -> Attending World Qualification Event in place of Guyana
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