Built 'Ford' tough

Matt Molloy
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Ford, Team Canada earn silver at international curling event

Gander's Chris Ford can add another prestigious curling medal to a mantle that's already busting with gold, silver and bronze hardware.

YOUTHFUL FUN — (Back row, fifth from left) Gander’s Chris Ford was in Japan recently representing Canada at the Karuizawa International Curling Championships. Ford and Team Canada finished second at the event, losing to Japan Selection 7-6 in extra ends. Prior to earning silver, Canada’s men’s and women’s team, along with Germany’s men’s team, posed for a photo with some of the young Japanese curling fans.

Ford, who won bronze at the 2011 Canadian Junior Curling Championships and gold at the 2011 Canadian University Championships, earned silver with Team Canada at the Karuizawa International Curling Championships, held at the SCAP Karuizawa Arena in Karuizawa, Japan, Jan. 25-29.

Ford threw second stones for Team Canada, which was represented by the St. John's-based Colin Thomas rink. The team qualified for the Karuizawa International Curling Championships by winning the 2011 Canadian University Championships, where the team represented Memorial University.

Before the team departed for Japan, they were in Edmonton fine-tuning their skills. Then, the team hit the skies and settled in for a long trip.

"Before we actually flew to Japan, we spent the weekend in Edmonton at the National Curling Training Center, where we practiced alongside a coach that works with the CCA (Canadian Curling Association) to tie up the loose ends," said Ford. "The flight over there took 12-plus hours, and then it was more than three hours of trains to get to Karuizawa.

"The flight wasn't too bad," added Ford. "I tried to sleep for the first half so I could adjust to the time difference faster. My initial reaction of Japan was all positive. Everything was so organized, clean, and everyone was so well dressed."

After lengthy plane and train rides, Ford and Team Canada got down to the task at hand. The team got off to a shaky start with a 3-2 loss to Norway, but followed that up with four straight wins before losing to China, and ending their round-robin schedule with a win over Germany.

With its 5-2 record, Canada advanced to the semifinal round against China. Ford said the team had a gameplan going into the playoff game, and even though the match was decided in extra ends, he said things went according as plan.  

"Before the game we said our goal was to be tied up in the 10th end with last rock. We feel as though this is how we perform at our best, while still giving the other team the respect they deserve," said Ford. "Giving up two in the ninth end was the least of our worries. This meant that we were still up by one with last rock coming into the 10th end. They played a good 10th end and managed to steal a point. In the 11th, we only needed one point and played it just how we wanted to, managing to get three."

“I guess it's nothing we haven't done before.” Chris Ford

After a nail-biting semifinal, Ford and Team Canada advanced to the gold-medal game against Japan Selection, while the Canadian women played Switzerland in their gold-medal match.

The championship match was a true back and forth battle, with both teams making key shots at opportune times.

In the 11th end, with the game tied 6-6, Japan Selection had shot rock, and the gold medal came down to the final stone.  

"The final was anyone's game and was played great by both sides. There would be times we would be looking good to score multiple points or steal, and their skip would make an amazing shot, and visa versa," said Ford. "In the extra, our lead set up the end as perfect as possible, but their lead made two beautiful tick shots to ruin our set up. Our skip had to hit one of our rocks back on an angle to remove their shot stone and made it. Then, the Japanese skip had to draw with his last to try and get closer to the button then ours and succeeded."

Ford said the silver medal is "definitely" at the top of  his achievement list, and making this feat extra special was the fact that his mother Bonnie and brother Gregg flew to Japan to watch him compete.

"It meant a lot to me for mom to take time off of work and for my brother to take two weeks off of university," said Ford. "It's nothing I would ask or expect them to do, but I was more than happy they were there. My dad would message me every night to wish me luck and to ask how my day was going, and that meant a lot, too."

Ford said the team hasn't talked about taking another shot at winning gold at the Karuizawa International Curling Championships, but to do that the team has to win the next Canadian University Championships.

"I guess it's nothing we haven't done before," said Ford with a laugh.

mmolloy@ganderbeacon.ca

Organizations: Team Canada, Canadian University, National Curling Training Center CCA Curling Association

Geographic location: Japan, Karuizawa, Edmonton St. John's China Norway Germany Canada Switzerland

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