March 15, 2009
Denmark's Rasmus Stjerne achieved his curling dream with a peak performance against powerful Canada to win the 2009 World Junior Men's Curling Championship at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.
The victory gave Denmark its first-ever gold medal at any level of men's curling. Danish junior men's skip Casper Bossen won world junior silver in 2001, while Tommy Stjerne, Rasmus' father, won world men's bronze in 1990.
Leading 9-6 in the 10th end after a solid day's work, Stjerne watched opposing skip Brett Gallant roll out of the house on a last-ditch takeout, and punched both fists into the air.
"I read a book four months ago," said the six-time world competitor, whose previous high finish was a fourth-place in 2007.
"It said 'If you can paint it, you can dream it and you can fulfill it.' So right now at home I have a picture of me, up three points, playing Canada in the last end of the final. So I kinda knew that, when I threw the last shot, that I had been there already. I hung it over my bed and every time I went so sleep I just went through the feelings."
The Danish skip, competing in his final World Junior championship, replied to Gallant's opening pair with a tying deuce in the fourth end and steals in both the fifth and sixth ends for a 4-2 lead.
On Gallant's final effort of the sixth, he buzzed a blank attempt cleanly past his intended target.
The Canadians, who had finished first in the round robin at 8-2, scored a deuce in the seventh end but the Danes replied with another of their own in the eighth for a 6-4 lead.
History reversed itself in the eighth end. Gallant had a chance to hit and roll behind cover on his first delivery but his stone curled too far, setting up an easy double for Denmark to lie five.
In the Page 1 vs 2 playoff game, Stjerne had faced six Canadian stones on his last shot of the sixth end, but missed, handing Canada a steal of six points and the win.
This time, facing five Danish stones, Gallant's final attempt slid heavy. After a frantic sweeping effort from third Mikkel Krause, Denmark had stolen three for a 9-4 lead.
Gallant, a 19-year old university student from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, refused to speak to reporters after the match.
"Yeah, it's tough," said second Anson Carmody. "The ice was a little trickier today."
"They played better than us," said third Adam Casey.
"We came out flat. We just didn't have weight. (We were) struggling with the conditions, I guess."
In the men's bronze medal game, 2008 world junior champion Chris Plys of the United States beat Sweden's 2008 silver medallist Oskar Eriksson 9-4 to win the bronze and finish his junior curling career.
"It was my last game ever as a junior... it meant a lot to play like we can. It was a good way to cap it off, we can't ask for anything more."
Plys was competing in his fifth World Juniors, and third with his current teammates.
"In those three years we won a gold and a bronze and lost in a tiebreaker the first year. It was a pretty good run for us."
Next year's combined 2010 World Junior Curling Championships will take place at the new Waldhaus Arena in Flims, Switzerland.
The 2009 WJCC was hosted by the Vancouver Olympic Centre, which welcomes the 2010 Olympic curling and Paralympic Wheelchair curling competitions next year.