Steffen Walstad (right) celebrates his win in the 11th draw of the Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge in Regina. (Anil Mungal)

Walstad upsets Jacobs to qualify at Tour Challenge

September 8, 2017, 1:05 PM

REGINA — Norway’s Steffen Walstad has qualified for the Tour Challenge playoffs in his Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling series debut.

Walstad (3-0) stunned reigning Olympic champion Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 7-5 during Draw 11 action Friday morning at the Co-operators Centre.

The two-time Winter Universiade medallist Walstad, who also defeated Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers and Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock, said it’s really awesome playing in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.

“We’re enjoying the five-rock rule a lot,” he said. “I think it fits our game really well. We’ve got some really lucky breaks like we’ve gotten some unforced errors and that’s not normal from the teams we’ve played. It’s the first time we’ve beaten all three teams, we’ve played them a lot before and never got the chance.”

Walstad opened with the hammer and jumped out to a 4-0 lead scoring a deuce in the first and stealing two in the second when Jacobs was heavy on a draw.

Jacobs’s woes continued in the third as he wrecked on a guard to settle for just a single, however, he turned things around stealing a point in four and two in the fifth to tie it 4-4 when Walstad came up light on his last.

Walstad regained the momentum in the sixth end. Jacobs faced three and attempted a double to limit the damage, but could only get one out of the rings and Walstad made an open draw for three to go back ahead 7-4.

Jacobs, who is through to the quarterfinals with a 3-1 record, misfired his last in seven for just one and shook hands in the eighth end.

“The two first games the ice was good but this time it was frosty and tricky out there so both teams were missing a lot,” Walstad explained. “In the middle there when we had the big lead, you kind of know Jacobs is going to come back. It was kind of a nightmare in the middle there but then we got lucky again. We’re just happy to be here and happy to be in this company. It’s good.”

Walstad, who plays John Morris (0-3) of Vernon, B.C., is his final round-robin match in the afternoon, said it’s also great seeing the large crowds and having them cheer for all teams.

“It’s not normal for us,” Walstad said. “In Norway you have maybe between 50 and 100 spectators at the most and normally it’s just the people running the cafeteria. It’s fun to see what curling is like here in Canada.”

Tour Challenge: Scores | Standings | Draw Schedules | TV Schedule

Elsewhere, defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden scored four in the third during a 7-4 win over American Heath McCormick. Edin (2-2) is guaranteed at least a tiebreaker while McCormick is out with a 1-3 record.

In women’s division action, Julie Tippin of Woodstock, Ont., topped Michelle Englot’s Winnipeg team 7-3. Both teams are still in it with 2-2 records.

Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg stole singles in three consecutive ends during a 4-2 win over Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland. Hasselborg advances with a 3-1 record while Tirinzoni (2-1) has another preliminary game remaining.

Round-robin action wraps up Friday to set up the weekend playoffs. TV coverage resumes with Draw 12 at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet featuring Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., versus Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones.