On 7 April 2013 in Victoria (CAN), Niklas Edin and his fellow Swedes, Sebastian Kraupp, Fredrik Lindberg and Viktor Kjäll, secured a place in Swedish sporting history. By beating Brad Jacobs’ Canadian rink 8-6 in the final of the World Curling Championships, Sweden brought the home team’s three-year global reign to an end, having dominated the entire tournament.
In doing so, Edin and Co also became the first team to claim back-to-back European and world titles, having defeated neighbours Norway 8-5 four months earlier to secure the continental crown.
“We took part in the last Olympic Games, and our principal objective was to qualify again and maybe win a medal,” explained Edin after Sweden’s victory at the Worlds. “After we finished fourth in Vancouver, we set ourselves a target of becoming European and world champions.
“Here we are three years later, and it’s all gone to plan. It’s an amazing feeling. We’ve struggled at times this season, but seeing everything come together here at the World Championships is just incredible,” continued the Scandinavian curler.
Edin was originally inspired to take to the ice by another strong Swedish performance. “I took up curling in 1999, after having seen Sweden’s women’s team, skipped by Elisabet Gustafson, win the bronze medal at the Nagano Games. I gave it a try, and straight away I was hooked,” he says.
“Before that, I played all kinds of sports. At one point, I had 10 different ones on the go, which meant 14 to 15 training sessions a week, with tournaments every weekend. But four and a half years after starting to curl, I became European junior champion in 2004.
“I really like the mental and physical aspects of curling. To play well, you have to think about strategy and be physically fit. You need to communicate with your team-mates and know your opponents. I love the variety of the game.”
Sweden are now regarded as real prospects for an Olympic medal. However, Edin knows he will face one of his toughest tests yet, as he pits his wits once more against Brad Jacobs, whose Canadian team has won the last two Olympic titles.
He is aware that having the correct outlook is crucial. “I hate losing,” he confesses. “I can get really grumpy when we lose, because I don’t accept mistakes and I always want to improve. But I think it’s the right attitude to have.”
Sweden’s women have clinched curling gold twice, in 2006 and 2010, yet one has to go back to 1924 for their male counterparts’ only Olympic podium success, when Johan Petter Åhlén skipped his team to silver in Chamonix. Ninety years on Edin is determined to go one better.
“Like all curlers, my ambition is to win a gold medal at the Games,” he admits. “I wouldn’t mind winning more of them, but one is my main goal. We know that we can do it and we believe in ourselves. If you want a medal, you have to first imagine yourself winning it.”