OKOTOKS, Alta. — Niklas Edin said it meant the world to him to finally capture his first career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championship.
Edin claimed the WFG Masters men’s title in dramatic fashion rallying late against Brad Jacobs by scoring two in the eighth end to force an extra and then stole one for the 5-4 victory in Sunday’s final.
The Karlstad, Sweden, team of Edin, third Oskar Eriksson, second Rasmus Wrana and lead Christoffer Sundgren are also the first non-Canadian men’s squad to win a Grand Slam title and earned $30,000 CDN.
Edin, a two-time world champion, had this one on his bucket list for a while finishing runner-up in two previous Grand Slam finals.
“This has been our biggest goal since we won the worlds a few years ago,” he said “Obviously the Olympics are something that we always aim for but other than the Olympics this was the one title that we missed. I’m really happy we finally got it and now kind of getting that monkey off our backs and having a team that’s already performing this well even with a new player, I think we might get some more chances so that feels good.”
“It’s been feeling like that for a few years now,” he added. “We’ve been the team that could do it. A lot of European teams are really strong but usually we qualify, a lot of us qualify, but then making the semifinals, that’s pretty rare, and then making the final we’re the only [men’s] team that has done that, twice. So third time’s the charm and it felt like we had it coming.”
“It feels awesome,” Eriksson said. “It’s been a big goal for our team the last three years to win a Slam. We lost one final and we felt really good that time and played against [Mike] McEwen and they were just amazing so getting a second chance and to steal in the extra feels super good.”
Wrana just joined the foursome this season and made his Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling debut at the event. He joked that it wasn’t so hard going 1-for-1 in the elite-level series.
“It feels great,” he said. “I mean, I couldn’t even imagine it when we came here so it’s just a great feeling.”
The addition of the 21-year-old Wrana, fresh out of the junior ranks, and his positive attitude has helped motivate Team Edin winning four events now already in the season and topping both the World Curling Tour’s year-to-date and money rankings.
“Through the whole season, before every event, we’ve been setting goals,” Edin said. “We’ve kind of been a bit more modest, the rest of us, like if we can make the semifinals we’re happy but for every event [Wrana's] like, ‘No, I want to reach the final and I want to win this.’
“Even at the Slam here we got a really tough group so we were really happy if we made playoffs but he wanted to make the final. He’s got a good attitude for the game and he’s playing really well. The more experience on this kind of ice and playing against these teams I think the sky’s the limit.”
Edin also stole to open the game in the first end after he hit and rolled buried behind his own guard and Jacobs attempted a runback to takeout both counters and blank. However, the raised one stayed in the rings to score.
Jacobs fired blanks in the second and third ends. Edin struggled in the fourth with his team missing three consecutive shots, but he dodged a bullet as Jacobs’s last shot had too much heat on it and rolled heavy as he only scored a single.
Edin faced two split and hit and stuck on one of them, but a measurement awarded a point, and a 2-1 lead, to Jacobs. A force of one in the sixth for Edin knotted it up.
Edin misfired on his last in seven, chipping off a guard and gave Jacobs a soft tap for a deuce to go up two points heading into the eighth.
Edin made a game-saver with his first skip stone in eight, barely missing a guard and pushing Jacobs’s lone stone almost out of the house biting at the back of the 12-foot circle. Jacobs then came danger close to throwing the game away, but he caught just enough of one of Edin’s stones to knock it out. Edin then eased his last into the paint for a deuce to set the table for the decisive extra end.
“It was a really tight game,” Edin said. “We kind of knew that was going to happen. Both teams have been playing really well all week. We know they’re a really solid team when they get a lead so we wanted to keep it close for the first half and then we did that we kind of started to go more offensively and generate points but then he made some good shots in the sixth to hold us down to one.
“After that we pretty much have to go for the force and then I missed my last one. It felt like game over. Then played a really good eighth end. Almost got three, he was close to missing his last but then when he made that we had to go all in to steal. We played a pretty much perfect end. We had one guard coming too close. We kind of had to keep it really difficult throughout that whole end to maybe set something up in the end.”
Eriksson noted the five-rock rule in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling series played a factor in keeping them in the game as it meant no lead’s ever safe.
“We actually had a good chance to get three in the eighth and Brad made a really good pick on his last to force us to two so the five-guard rule you can always have a chance to get two or three back so we just stuck in there and played a really good extra end to make him a play a really tough shot.”
Edin is now brimming with confidence as the team will stick around in Calgary for the week before heading down the road to Cranbrook, B.C., for the second Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the season, the Tour Challenge.
“Getting [a Slam title] this early too that sets up for a good season,” Edin said. “Not only having that win early but then getting the self-confidence that you need so we can both at practice and at events now. Everything becomes so much easier with that self-confidence. Hopefully we can build up and stay strong now. Since we’ve got this good start we’ve got the pressure off so enjoy it and try to do well as long as we have this form.”
Jacobs is joined by third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden. They captured the College Clean Restoration Curling Classic in Saskatoon last month snapping a drought by earning their first tour title since the 2015 Players’ Championship.