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Russia opens Ford Worlds with two wins and heavy hearts

SWIFT CURRENT — Team Russia emerged from the first day of play at the Ford World Women’s Curling, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, with a perfect 2-0 record and with heavy hearts.

Sixty-two people died Saturday when an airliner travelling from Dubai to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don crashed. The Russian team wore black arm bands Saturday evening as a tribute to those who lost their lives in the crash.

Team Russia, which includes skip Anna Sidorova, third Margarita Fomina, second Alexandra Raeva, lead Nkeiruka Ezekh, alternate Alina Kovaleva and coaches Svetlana Kalalb and Rodger Schmidt, defeated Finland 7-4 on the evening draw. Earlier in the day, the Russians defeated Italy 8-2.

Russia was in control from the get-go in its two games. It dispatched Italy in eight ends, and the result was never in doubt in the nightcap. Finnish skip Oona Kauste did make one of the shots of the day — a triple takeout for a two-ender. It narrowed the gap to two points after seven ends, but that is as close as the Finns got.

Sidorova was pleased with the results, but sombre when asked about the plane crash in her homeland.

“We wanted to support the relatives of those who are not with us anymore,” she said of the arm bands.

Japan won both of its games to join Russia atop the standings. Team Japan, skipped by Satsuki Fujisawa, defeated Finland 7-5 in its opening game and finished the day with a 10-3 win over Italy.

Other members of the Japanese team are third Chinami Yoshida, second Yumi Suzuki, lead Yurika Yoshida, alternate Mari Motohashi and coach J.D. Lind.

Lind was impressed with the play of his team, but said he sees this championship as part of a bigger picture.

“This week is to gain some experience and see how they do. If they play well, they will do great, but really the focus is on (getting prepared) for 2018.”

The 2018 of which he speaks is the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Swedish skip Margaretha Sigfridsson shouts encouragement to her teammates. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Swedish skip Margaretha Sigfridsson shouts encouragement to her teammates. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“With the teams that are more established, they want to win the world championship to get momentum, but for us it’s the learning process. But saying that, if the week goes well, we would love to be there at the end of the week.”

He said playing on both draws Saturday was good for his young team.

“We knew we had two games right off the bat and we were anxious to play so it was good that we had the draw that we did. They played really well. The key now is to maintain that through the week which is the hard part.”

He said he told the team to have fun.

“One of the things we talked about before the event was it is a big event and there is a lot on the line, but be yourself out there. They really are happy-go-lucky. I said the fans love to see that so be yourself, show your personality and the fans will appreciate it.

“They had a great ovation when they came off tonight and I think that is because they are laughing and being themselves.”

Canada won its only game of the day — winning an 8-7 extra-end thriller against Denmark.

In the other evening games, Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson defeated Eve Muirhead of Scotland 5-3 and Germany’s Daniela Driendl topped Un Chi Gim of South Korea 8-5. It was the first game for all four teams.

There are draws at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times MDT) Sunday at the Credit Union iPlex. Canada is back on the ice Sunday at 9 a.m. against Switzerland and again at 7 p.m. against the U.S.

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For the complete results, standings, the schedule and much more, visit to

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2016 Ford Worlds.