Brad Jacobs continues to fade at Olympic curling trials

The chances of Brad Jacobs defending his men's curling title at the PyeongChang Winter Games in February are slim at best following a third straight loss Thursday morning at the Olympic trials in Ottawa.

Reigning Winter Games champion drops to 2-4 after loss to Reid Carruthers

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., skip Brad Jacobs will not defend his 2014 Olympic gold medal after being eliminated from the national trials on Thursday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The reigning Olympic men's curling champions were perfect at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings the last time around.

The 2017 Trials have been far less kind to Brad Jacobs and his team from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Chances of a repeat appearance at the Winter Games were all but dashed Thursday as Jacobs dropped a 9-5 decision to Reid Carruthers. The loss left Jacobs at 2-4 with only a slim chance of making it to a tiebreaker game.

"It's a big surprise, it's an incredible surprise," said Team Jacobs coach Caleb Flaxey. "We didn't expect to be in this situation."

Kevin Koe (7-0) booked a spot in the men's final with a 7-4 victory over John Morris in the afternoon. Fellow Calgary skip Chelsea Carey (6-0) is guaranteed no worse than a tiebreaker appearance after a 9-8 win over Julie Tippin.

Gushue, Homan in 2nd

Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont., improved her playoff chances with a 5-3 win over Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones. Edmonton's Brendan Bottcher remained in the mix after edging Toronto's John Epping 7-6 in an extra end.

Brad Gushue of St. John's, N.L., and Winnipeg's Mike McEwen were tied for second place in the men's standings at 4-2. Carruthers, from Winnipeg, was next at 4-3, followed by Bottcher at 3-3.

Laycock, from Saskatoon, and Jacobs were at 2-4. Morris, from Vernon, B.C., and Epping were eliminated from playoff contention at 1-5.

Carey gave up a four-point second end to Tippin but chipped away at the deficit, eventually stealing three points in the 10th for the win.

"Definitely lucky to pull that one out but we'll take it," Carey said.

A visibly frustrated Tippin, from Woodstock, Ont., did not stop to speak with reporters after the game.

Entering evening play, Ottawa's Rachel Homan was alone in second place at 5-1. She was followed by Jones at 5-2 and McCarville at 4-2.

Edmonton's Val Sweeting was also still in the mix at 3-3. The other women's teams in the field will not play on the weekend.

Winnipeg's Michelle Englot (2-4) posted an 8-7 win over Toronto's Allison Flaxey (0-7) in morning play. Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., was 2-4 and Tippin, from Woodstock, Ont., dropped to 1-5.

Jacobs, meanwhile, ran the table four years ago in Winnipeg and went on to take gold at the Sochi Games.

He played well in wins over Morris and Gushue in round-robin play at Canadian Tire Centre but will look back at a stunning miss against Koe as a turning point. Jacobs was wide and heavy with an open draw to the eight-foot ring that would have given him a win.

The other key game was an 8-6 loss to Steve Laycock. Jacobs led 4-0 after the first end but was outscored 8-2 after that. Two more defeats would follow.

Jacobs appears out of sorts

Against Carruthers, Jacobs seemed out of sorts from the start. Stones were missing the mark and sometimes sailing through the house.

Jacobs shot just 65 per cent in a game that was essentially a must-have.

"We came out here knowing that our fate was in our own hands and didn't perform," he said.

The top three rinks in the nine-team fields make the playoffs. Jacobs will need to win two in a row and get a lot of help to have a chance.

He'll take on Winnipeg's Mike McEwen on Thursday night knowing that his hopes of an Olympic repeat are essentially kaput.

"This is going to be extremely disappointing," said second E.J. Harnden. "You work three to four years to try to do this all over again. I think it's more disappointing the fact that in my mind, that we didn't leave it all out there."

Carruthers still in mix

Carruthers scored four in the fourth end, added a deuce in the seventh, and shot 90 per cent overall.

"We've got one more left," Carruthers said. "If we can get to 5-3, we might have a sniff but there's still some real good teams that have to lose."

The Carruthers team shot 86 per cent overall to 81 per cent for the Jacobs rink.

Round-robin play continues through Friday night. If tiebreakers are necessary, they will be played Saturday morning.

The semifinals between the second- and third-place teams are set for Saturday. The first-place teams get a bye to Sunday's finals.

The winners will represent Canada at the PyeongChang Games in February.


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