LAS VEGAS — Brad Gushue’s curling team began to find their stride on Monday in a 10-4 win over Italy to stay undefeated at the world men’s curling championship. Canada was alone atop the standings with a 5-0 record after its only game on Monday.
LAS VEGAS — Brad Gushue’s curling team began to find their stride on Monday in a 10-4 win over Italy to stay undefeated at the world men’s curling championship.
Canada was alone atop the standings with a 5-0 record after its only game on Monday. Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker of St. John’s, NL, will face Germany (3-2) on Tuesday.
Four wins on the opening weekend boosted Canada’s record, but the skip felt it was a matter of white fists compared to Monday’s decisive victory over the Italians.
“Comfort-wise, it increases,” Gushue said. “I thought the ice was a bit better than it was in the first four games. We had better control of the weight of the draw, which allowed us to set up and score more points.”
Canada scored two in the second end and three in the fourth to lead 5-2. After Gushue stole three combined runs in the seventh and eighth ends, Joel Retornaz conceded.
The World Championship stones in Las Vegas are owned by the World Curling Federation and were once used on the World Curling Tour.
The granite isn’t as sharp as the rocks at last month’s Canadian men’s curling championship in Lethbridge, Alta., where Gushue and company won a fourth national title.
Gushue, Gallant and Walker played as a team of three last weekend because Nichols had COVID-19.
The ice at Orleans Arena was built and is maintained by USA Curling ice maker Shawn Olesen, and Canadian teams are less familiar with his product.
“These ice conditions, we won’t be able to play at the level that we played in Lethbridge or Saskatoon in the (Olympic) tryouts, just because it’s not conducive,” Gushue said.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get to a 10 out of 10. We kind of have to accept that we’re going to have a few more misses. An 80 or 85 percent game is pretty good here, where in Lethbridge you’re looking to play at 90 or 95 percent.
“With these misses, you want to try to limit the damage you do. So far we’ve done a good job with that.”
The top six teams at the end of Friday’s round robin will advance to the playoffs, with the top two earning byes to the semifinals.
Seeds three through six will play on Saturday to join them in the semi-finals that night. The medal games are Sunday.
Gushue and Retornaz jump two of the three teams that compete in the world championship on the heels of their participation in the Olympics in February.
Swede Niklas Edin won gold, Gushue bronze and Retornaz went 3-6 in Beijing.
Five-time world champion Edin has lost two of his first four in Las Vegas. A 7-2 victory over Finland in Monday’s draw sent them into a five-team stalemate for second place at 3-2 with Germany, Switzerland, Scotland and the United States.
Scotland moved into the second-place group with a 6-4 win over Germany in Monday’s draw. Other late scores saw Switzerland beat the Czech Republic 9-5 and the United States beat Norway 10-8.
Retornaz was the only skip on the court with over 80% shooting accuracy heading into Monday’s game against Canada. His third Amos Mosaner won Olympic gold in mixed doubles curling with Stefania Constantini.
But Nichols far outstripped Mosaner at 98% vice position at 73, which accordingly gave Gushue easier shots and low-percentage throws from Retornaz.
“The first four games, I felt like every shot I threw was on a new path and a tough shot,” Gushue said. “Today they left me a few easy ones and I was able to perform them, except for one in the fifth end.
“They’re an extremely talented team and they’ll be here at the end of the week. The first four games, all of them could have gone either way. We were lucky to pull them off. We made some really great shots in the last couple ends.
“I think it just comes from experience and the fact that we’ve played in a bunch of great moments. We haven’t gotten caught up in the kind of nervousness that you can feel when you’re playing the 10th end of a game. world championship game. We executed well in those situations.”
Gushue won the 2017 world championship in Edmonton, followed by a runner-up finish the following year in Las Vegas.
His team was unable to participate in the 2020 World Championship in Glasgow, Scotland as it was canceled due to COVID-19.
The Orleans Arena is adjacent to the hotel and casino with the site a mile and a half west of the Vegas Strip.
Gushue felt his team didn’t get enough mental breathing space in the tournament environment four years ago by staying in Orleans, so he and his teammates are living offsite this time around.
“We got out of the fishbowl,” said the captain. “We learned from that experience, and so far it’s been a much better experience for us off the ice.
“I think we’re in a much better place, a lot more relaxed and we can kind of get away from the game, which is nice, especially with the year we’ve been through. It seems like we haven’t away from the game in months.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 4, 2022.
The Canadian Press