Winnipeg’s Jacques Gauthier of the Assiniboine Memorial Club and Mackenzie Zacharias of Altona, Man., have reached the gold medal finals of the World Junior Curling Championships in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
While Gauthier defeated Germany 7-4 in the wee hours of the morning, Zacharias rallied from an early 4-1 deficit to edge the host country 9-8 in an extra end in a thrilling Junior Women’s semifinal that included this amazing shot by Zacharias with her final stone in the fifth end.
Canada will play Switzerland in the junior men’s final at 8 p.m. CDT Friday night.
Zacharias will take on powerhouse Korea for the junior women’s title, starting at 1 a.m. because of the 13 hour time difference between Manitoba and Central Russia.
The Swiss upset Scotland 9-6 in the other junior men’s semifinal, while Korea’s Minji Kim remained undefeated in junior women’s play after downing Japan 8-4.
Korea also defeated the Canadian champs 7-1 in the final game of the round-robin, but that will not dampen the enthusiasm of family and friends back in Altona who will be glued to their computer screens overnight.
And for those who would prefer to cheer on their hometown heroes as a group, Mayor Al Friesen says the Altona Curling Club will be opened up just after midnight for a viewing party.
“Well to coin a phrase, ‘we’re as excited as stink,'” Friesen told the 680 CJOB morning show.
“We’ve been following Team Zacharias all year and we’re not going to be cleaning our garages, I promise you that.”
Curling Canada has swept World Junior gold five times previously, most recently in 2018 in Aberdeen, Scotland.
There are also direct connections on this year’s teams to those 2018 champions. Gauthier is a cousin of Langley’s Tyler Tardi and was a fifth for that gold medal-winning rink. Zacharias’ third, Karlee Burgess also played for Kaitlyn Jones’ championship team.