Saturday, March 26, 2011

Strengths and Weaknesses Going into the Gold Medal Round

The gold medal round (i.e. the finals) of the 2011 Women's World Curling Championships will be played between Canada and Sweden at 9am Sunday EDT (7am CST: Saskatchewan refuses to go on DST!). The curling stats for the players for Sweden and Canada are here.

The overall averages for each player for the entire round robin and the play-offs have been:

Lead: Canada 88, Sweden 78
2nd : Canada 78, Sweden 78
3rd : Canada 80, Sweden 79
Skip: Canada 81, Sweden 75

Based on these numbers for the tournament, it looks as if Canada has a slight edge (actually substantial at lead) going into the final game. Also, we know that Sweden barely edged Canada by only one point during the round robin.

At the same time, however, we have all seen players for both teams, especially Canada (since that's who we have seen on tv most often), put in highly variable performances. Every player for Sweden, along with Amber Holland and the two Schneiders for Canada had games when they curled as low as in the 60s (Norberg and both thirds even had one game each in which they curled in the 50s!). So while these overall averages are indicative, they are far from compelling. Who wins the gold medal will depend not only on who is curling well tomorrow, but it will also depend on strategy and at what point in the game the good and less-good shots are made.

[ Addendum: this point is amply supported by the fact that even though Canada had higher curling percentages, and Canada gave up the fewest steals and took the most steals, at the same time Sweden had the highest percentage of scoring two or more points with the hammer and also had the highest percentage of forcing opponents with the hammer to score only one point. And, of course, Sweden won more games in the round robin.]

What the statistics really seem to show is that the teams look as if they are pretty evenly matched. That should make for a fun and exciting morning tomorrow.



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