Gushue remains perfect with 11-7 win over Germany at men’s world curling championship

Gushue remains perfect with 11-7 win over Germany at men's world curling championship
Canada Skip Brad Gushue delivers a stone against Germany during the World Men's Curling Championships, Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Las Vegas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Locher

Canada skip Brad Gushue says throwing stones on the unpredictable ice at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas has led to some interesting linescores at the world men’s curling championship.

The conditions can lure even the most seasoned curlers into making uncharacteristic mistakes, leading to high-scoring ends and a lot of steals.

The mercurial conditions made for a nervy game Tuesday, as Canada fell into a big hole early, then came to life and remained undefeated with an 11-7 win over Germany.

Canada trailed 5-1 after three ends against Germany’s Sixten Totzek (3-3), but Gushue’s squad surged back to improve to 6-0.

“I felt like when we were down 5-1, we were actually pretty lucky to be down 5-1,” Gushue said. “I knew that if we could get a deuce we could get ourselves back in the game, and fortunately we got a couple of threes.”

The Germans conceded after Canada scored three in the ninth end. It was the third three-point end of the match for the Canadians.

“You’re going to see more big ends being scored, you’re going to see more steals, because of the ice conditions. It has improved, but it’s not typically what we’d play on at a Brier or a Grand Slam.

“So you are going to see a few more mistakes from the skips. So instead of having an easy draw to the button or the four-foot, something happens and you give up a steal of two.”

The win gives Gushue a cushion atop the standings heading into a match against reigning Olympic and world champion Niklas Edin of Sweden on Wednesday morning. Canada plays Finland in Wednesday’s late draw.

The top six teams at the conclusion of the round robin Friday advance to the playoffs. The top two seeds earn byes to Saturday evening’s semifinals with seeds three to six playing off that day to join them. The medal games are Sunday.

“Love the position we’re in,” Gushue said. “I don’t necessarily love how we’ve gotten here.”

After two days of only having one match in the afternoon draw, Canada will close out with three straight days of splitting matches between the morning and evening draws.

“We feel like we’ve recharged the batteries a little bit,” said Gushue, whose team played in four of the tournament’s first five draws. “But it’s definitely going to be different the next three days.

“I would imagine because we go night-morning, that afternoon you’re probably going to want to get a nap in there. Doesn’t allow you a lot of time to go out and see the sights in Vegas.”

Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker out of St. John’s, N.L., are pursuing a second world title after winning their first in Edmonton in 2017.

The foursome was the runner-up in Las Vegas in 2018 when it lost to Edin in the final.

Gushue wasn’t able to represent Canada in the 2020 world championship that was cancelled in Glasgow, Scotland, because of the COVID-19 epidemic.

His team won a fourth Canadian men’s title in Lethbridge, Alta., in March.

Gushue, Gallant and Walker played as a three-man team on the final weekend because Nichols had COVID-19.

Totzek, 22, skipped Germany to a 4-9 record in his world championship debut last year in Calgary.

After stealing a point in the opening end, Canada gave up five to trail 5-1 after three ends.

The Canadians countered with a three-point fourth to get back in the game, then broke it open with three more in the sixth.

“If we made a mistake down four and gave up another two or three, the game is essentially over,” Gushue said. “So it’s not a nice place to be.

“But opposed to in Lethbridge at the Brier, you feel like you have more of a chance. If we’re down four in Lethbridge, with the ice as good as it is and the players as good as they are, your odds of coming back are slim to none.”

Edin, Gushue and Italy’s Joel Retornaz are the three teams in the world championship competing on the heels of their Olympic participation in February.

Edin won gold and Gushue bronze in Beijing. Gushue lost 5-3 to Edin in the semifinal there.

Five-time world champion Edin lost two of four to open the world championship, but has begun climbing the standings towards Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2022.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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