Team Canada, with Nyla Kurylowich of St. Albert in the line-up, loses women's final to Russia
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Mar 23, 2013 06:00 am
Silver wasn't as good as gold for Team Canada at the second annual World Deaf Curling Championships.
The only loss for the Judy Robertson rink was 9-7 to Russia in the final at Bern, Switzerland.
“The honest answer would be disappointment,” second Nyla Kurylowich of St. Albert said in an e-mail. “We could do better. We beat Russia in the round robin but (the final) was a game we could either win or lose. There is no going back so move on.”
Canada advanced to the final after defeating the Ukraine 14-5, Croatia 10-4, Russia 7-5 and Hungary in the five-team round robin and in the semifinals downed Hungary 10-6.
“We did really good during the round robin and felt really good that we rested for two days waiting for a team to play against us for the gold medal,” Kurylowich said. “But as I said, playing in a game there is 50-50 per cent chance to win or lose!”
Robertson and third Sally Korol, both of Edmonton, along with Kurylowich and lead Lynda Taylor of Stony Plain, won the inaugural worlds in 2009 in Winnipeg by defeating the United States in the final to finish 5-0.
The Jasper Place rink, which included Victoria Meusel of Olds as alternate and Diana Backer of St. Albert as coach, qualified for worlds by going 8-0 at the 33rd annual Canadian Deaf Curling Championships last May at their home club.
“The skill of the games are much more challenging in worlds than nationals,” Kurylowich said. “We played on the best ice in Europe. The ice was keen and we all had to change our sliding speed to control the rocks. It wasn’t the same as Jasper Place, which we know the ice very well. Playing nationals on my (Wednesday night) league’s ice had an advantage.”
In the final Russia’s game etiquette left a lot to be desired in the eyes of the Canadians.
“We strongly believe the Russian team played with our minds during the game with their behaviour. We tried to focus on the game but we weren’t successful,” Kurylowich said. “The Russian team made a living by curling. The Russian government pays them to play. When they won gold, they were so pleased to get an unknown amount from the government.”
The Russians were also up to no good in the men’s final. After the fifth end and Canada up 7-4, a Russian curler swiped skip Mike Raby’s broom and hid it in their broom bag. A rattled Raby had to borrow a broom, and ended up giving up three in six.
David Joseph, the second for Canada, realized what was going on and broke open the Russian’s broom bag to retrieve Raby’s broom, which didn’t look like the Russian brooms.
In the next end a Russian got in the way of Joseph while sweeping an opponent’s rock behind the tee line and he was pushed out of the way by the Canadian.
Canada went on to win 10-8.
“Kudos to the Russians for vastly improving their technique but they are terrible in strategy and game etiquette. The Russian women are even worse,” Denise Hoekstra, coach of the men’s rink from Gatineau, Quebec, told the Ottawa Sun.
In the women’s final Canada had to scramble from behind to grab a brief lead late in the contest.
“We worked very hard to steal points each end until we caught up to lead 7-6,” Kurylowich said. “We were trying to give Russia one point to tie the game as they had hammer, but we made a few misses that gave Russia three points in the end. Our coach informed us that we made six misses in the whole game while Russia had only one.”
Despite the loss Backer was proud of the team’s accomplishment.
“It was a little bittersweet for both Lynda and Judy (they won gold with Korol at the 2007 Deaflympics in Salt Lake City) because they will probably retire after this season on the competitive team,” said Backer, the second for the St. Albert-based Deb Santos rink at the Canadian senior 50-plus championships in Summerside, P.E.I. “Now we will begin the process of developing the younger adults and hopefully be able to recruit some players that will want to learn the game and continue the legacy left by this team.”
Kurylowich, 37 described the calibre of competition at worlds as higher than the 2009 event.
“The Canadian team was impressed with the improvement of the other team's curling level skills, which challenged us to do our best skills,” said the mother of two children. “We were pleased to have more teams there and hoping for many more countries to join in future. The World Curling Federation board came and watched and they were surprised that there are deaf teams playing so it’s good to have a championship to spread the news that there are deaf curling competitions.”
Kurylowich was also delighted by the “unbelievable” treatment the Canadians received from the host committee.
“The chairperson loved the Canadian teams and always asked us if we were all comfortable and made sure we were all OK. We all felt we were professionals. We played in a wonderful place with a dressing room, shower and a mirror on the wall. We even loved their electric scoreboard,” said the Connect Society Family Literacy and Early Invention Program employee. “We just LOVED Bern and the food, friendly people and hospitality. It was an amazing experience!”
There were several personal highlights for her to cherish.
“Meeting new and old deaf friends and learning so many new sign languages since different countries have their own sign language, same as the spoken language. It’s really cool to chat with athletes and exchange stories through Universal Sign Language,” said Kurylowich, who was born profoundly deaf to deaf parents.
On tap next for the silver medallists is a curling clinic in the fall to get more deaf females involved in the game and the 2014 deaf nationals in Vancouver.