After a rough start against China, Kelsey Rocque rebounded with a strong 6-2 over Germany on the first day of curling competition at the 2017 Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The University of Alberta Pandas skip, who carried the flag for Team Canada in the opening ceremonies, admitted that she and her team – vice-skip Danielle Schmiemann, second Taylor McDonald, lead Taylore Theroux and coach Garry Coderre – came out a bit shaky in their opening game against China’s Jie Mei.
Trailing 5-3 at the fifth-end break, the Edmonton foursome cranked up the offense with a score of three in the seventh and steals in the next two ends to take an 8-6 lead. But China forced the extra end with a deuce in ten, then stole the final point for the 9-8 win.
“We were fortunate to get back in the game but couldn’t quite finish at the end,” said Rocque. “It’s just one game, and hopefully it’ll be the only one that ends like this. We’ll just have to play a lot better.”
“We’ve been sitting around for about a week, so there was definitely some rust there,” said coach Coderre. “Although we lost the game, I’m pleased with what I saw overall. This is a bit of a character builder. You never go through these competitions without a loss, and sometimes having it early just puts you in the right frame of mind to carry forward. Obviously you always want to win, but I think from a team point of view, the outcome was positive.”
Rocque built on that positive attitude in the second game of opening day. Leading 5-2 after eight ends, Canada blanked the first three ends and stole a single in the ninth on the way to a solid 6-2 win over Germany’s Maike Beer.
On the men’s side, Aaron Squires and his Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks team of vice-skip Richard Krell, second Spencer Nuttall, lead Fraser Reid, alternate Russell Cuddie and coach Jim Waite needed only six ends to cruise to a 7-1 win over Daniel Kim of Kazakhstan in the opening game of the round robin.
“We knew today would not be our biggest challenge as the host country of Kazakhstan is new to curling,” said Waite. “But we used this match as additional preparation for the rest of the competition. We’ve talked about the importance of not breezing through these kinds of matches, and the importance of working on all aspects of our game. We’ll need to be at our best tomorrow against Great Britain and Russia, two very good teams.”
The round robin continues on Tuesday at the Almaty Arena with Squires facing the United Kingdom’s Bruce Mouat, the reigning World Junior champion, (Monday 10 p.m. EST) and Russia’s Alexey Timofeev, skip of the Russian national team, (Tuesday 8 a.m. EST). The women will meet Sweden’s Isabella Wranaa, who is coached by transplanted Canadian, and former Team Homan second, Alison Kreviazuk (Tuesday 3 a.m. EST).