Stirling student James Craik has led his fellow Team GB curlers to gold medals at the FISU Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, with a decisive 5-1 win over Team USA in the final.
Following a good run of form and having already won the World Junior Championships last year, Craik was feeling confident but knew playing in the final on the opposition’s home turf would be tough. He said: “Having the home crowd against us slightly was a bit difficult, but we were quite glad to hush them after the second end.”
Having missed an opportunity to take a sizeable early lead during the first end, the Stirling curler managed to take out three American stones at the second end. With pressure mounting, Team USA skip Danny Casper only managed to clear one British stone, leaving two in play. By the end of the third, Craik and his team found themselves 3-1 up, with the added advantage of having the hammer before reaching the halfway point of the match.
During the sixth end, an opportunity presented itself that gave Craik the chance to achieve a double take out, scoring one in the process. Whilst the execution of his shot wasn’t quite what he wanted, he still scored to extend the lead further to 4-1.
The last end of the match left the Americans in a tricky situation: requiring a double take out to keep themselves in contention. Again, Team USA’s Casper made a valiant effort but ultimately was only able to remove one British stone. This gifted a steal to Team GB, bringing the score to 5-1, and allowing the British curlers to run their opponents out of stones to finally claim victory.
Reflecting on the result and the previous week of play, the Stirling skip was quick to commend his teammates: “The timeless amount of hours the guys put in really showed this week and we’ve had comments all week that have been really nice, saying how professional we are, how great the front end sweeping strength is. It’s been great to see that hard work getting a wee bit of recognition.”
The University of Stirling is Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, and its performance programmes offer world-class coaching, training, competition, and funding support to athletes – enabling them to excel in their sport while studying.