The Stars and Stripes were waving furiously at the Ford World women’s curling championship on opening day.
U.S. skip Erika Brown of Madison, Wis., directed her American champion team of Nina Spatola, Ann Swisshelm and Laura Hallisey to the front of the pack after two draws at the Credit Union iplex.
Brown polished off Japanese veteran Moe Meguro of Aomori 10-3 on the late shift Saturday after earlier rallying with three stolen points in the latter stages en route to an 8-6 afternoon conquest of Russia’s entry skipped by Anna Sidorova of Moscow.
“It feels great,” said Brown, when informed she would carry the day alone on top of the 12-team standings with a 2-and-0 record. “We’d better take a picture of the scoreboard. This is just what we had planned. It’s where we wanted to be, obviously.”
Brown’s outfit was the last of the 12 teams to be decided for the Ford Worlds, having won its U.S. Nationals a mere week ago.
“I honestly feel we did have that advantage today,” said Brown. “Just based on our circumstances. We hadn’t had a lot of ice time together, so we had 12 great well-played games together at the Nationals and finished on a high note, took a few days off and went right back at it. That was our plan the whole season. We always knew there wasn’t going to be a lot of time so we were ready for it.”
The Yanks stole five points from Japan in the third and fourth ends for a 6-0 lead, after which it was a runaway.
In the opener, Brown twice missed draws that cost her points but she had the debate square after five ends, then stole in front with a critical deuce in the sixth, which severely deflated the Russians. In the end, that deuce proved the margin of victory although Brown needed a double in the 10th to secure the verdict.
Elsewhere, Canada’s Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg survived an early scare against a young Swedish team two years out of junior competition before stealing three in the sixth end and another in the seventh to turn around their opener and prance away to a 9-6 win.
Karlstad skip Cecilia Ostlund, 22, had Canada on the run for four ends, scoring deuce, single, deuce after Jones drew the four-foot for a single while looking at a first-end Swedish pair.
But the relatively inexperienced Swedish skip rubbed off a rock of her own in the fifth, leaving Jones a draw for two.. Then the Swedish sweepers miscalculated on Ostlund’s out-turn draw to the four-foot against four in the sixth and the Swedish rock ground to a halt, cutting out only one of the four Canuck counters.
“We got outplayed at the start, we couldn’t get our rocks in the right spots, we had a couple of zeroes every end and just didn’t perform the way we wanted to,” Jones said of the game’s first half. “And they played awesome, they were on fire.
“But our philosophy always has been that when we’re down we keep trying to get a good feel for the ice and get something out of a game. Experience isn’t necessary but it doesn’t hurt. We know we can come back. We’ve done it a few times. You’ve got to have wins like this along the way. We had to make some good shots with our backs to the wall and that’s good for us.”
Ostlund was suspicious first-night nerves cost her team.
“We were quite nervous,” she admitted. “It was our first game in our first world championship. It was just nice to have the good start and have the lead. We must take that with us when we play our next game.”
In other late tiffs, Norway’s Linn Githmark shaded Binia Feltscher of Switzerland 7-6 without requiring the hammer when the Swiss skip wrecked on her last shot.
Russia, with Anna Sidorova skipping, rebounded from the afternoon loss to defeat the rookie Latvian crew skipped by Iveta Stasa-Sarsune 4-2. Denmark faces China in a battle of first-day losers Sunday morning at 8:30 while Scotland goes against Germany, both first-day winners.