Hosts Canada and France share the lead at the end of Saturday’s first day of round-robin play in the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship 2011 in Regina, Canada.
Both of these teams were in action twice on Saturday. Canada’s Jeff Stoughton opened with an 8-4 win over Switzerland’s Christof Schwaller, which turned on a Canadian steal of three in the fifth end. He then faced
Denmark’s veterans, led by Tommy Stjerne, in his evening 9-5 win, a game in which Stoughton scored four points in the sixth to put the result beyond doubt.
The Danes had earlier gone down to USA’s Pete Fenson by 4-7, but despite these two losses, Stjerne was up-beat. “I’m just enjoying being back” he said as his last Worlds appearance was in 1998. At the Canada game he added, “we were over-matched there, but we gave them a game for the first five. This wasn’t one of the ones I thought to win, but still I’m really happy”.
In what is one of their best starts of recent Championships, France, skipped by Thomas Dufour, beat the Czech Republic by 9-5 in their opener, and then kept a clean sheet with an 8-2 win over Korea’s Dong Keun Lee.
France and the Czechs have had several tough struggles previously, and after this game, Dufour said, “we expected it to be more difficult. We were pleased with the way we played. At the last Europeans the Czechs beat us two or three times in a row and we were a little nervous to play against them again”.
For his part, Czech skip Jiri Snitil said, “we are very disappointed. We had a very bad sixth end. I gave up two and then we were behind. We struggled with the ice a little in the middle of the game but I hope we can
play better next time.”
Four other teams remain undefeated after the first day, although all four have only played once.
They are China, who stole their way to a 6-4 win over Germany’s Andy Kapp; Norway, who came from behind to beat Korea by 8-7 after an extra end; USA, with their 7-4 win over Denmark; and Scotland’s Tom Brewster, who beat Sweden’s Niklas Edin by 8-7 in a tight game.
Among these winners, Shawn Rojeski, USA’s vice-skip said, “we started out with a deuce right away and everyone relaxed. The first end of a world championship you have a lot of energy and your adrenaline is really going. They struggled a little bit, and we didn’t”.
About his game against Sweden, Scotland’s Tom Brewster, making his debut at this level, said, “A win is great to get you on the board, so I couldn’t be happier really. For us to beat Sweden, who for me are one of the top three favourites, is a big deal for us and that will give us a lot of confidence”.
The Norwegians found themselves 3-7 down to Korea after seven ends before rallying for their extra end win. About this, skip Thomas Ulsrud said, “I was sure it was over. We were playing terrible for the first five ends and then suddenly we started to pick it up. In the last four ends I was telling the guys ‘no matter what he does now, at least we’ve played the last four ends well’, but it feels even better with the win”.
Meanwhile, Korea’s Dong Keun Lee, on two losses, said, “our game against Norway was very good. I thought we could win it. This is my second time at the world championships. I played in 2003 in Winnipeg. In the time since curling has developed a lot in Korea, but we are still very short of curling ice”.
Standings after 2 sessions:
Czech Republic 0-1
Session 1: Canada 8, Switzerland 4; USA 7, Denmark 4; Czech Republic 5,
France 9; Norway 8, Korea 7.
Session 2: Germany 4, China 6; France 8, Korea 2; Sweden 6, Scotland 7;
Denmark 5, Canada 9.