Canada, skipped by Kevin Koe of Edmonton, opened with a 6-3 victory over United States (Pete Fenson of Bemidji, Minnesota) in the second draw of the Capital One World Men’s Curling Championship, taking place in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
Koe, who is making his Worlds debut, led 3-2 at the fifth end break, then put the game away with a deuce in the eighth and a steal of one in the ninth, in downing the 2006 Olympic bronze medallist.
“To get the first one under our belts, I feel pleased, relieved and glad,” Koe said. “It’s nice to get off to a good start, especially with this being our first Worlds. The guys played really good most of the game, but I struggled a bit early.”
At last month’s Tim Hortons Brier in Halifax, Koe handed Ontario’s Glenn Howard his only loss of the week, a dramatic 6-5 extra end final victory while winning his first Canadian men’s title.
Canada has won a leading 31 crowns since the men’s world championship began in 1959 in Scotland, when won for the first of four times by Regina’s Ernie Richardson.
Germany, skipped by veteran Andy Kapp of Füssen, is the first day leader with a perfect 2-0 mark, after vanquishing Japan, 9-3 and China, 5-4, earlier in the day. Kapp, a three-time (1994, 1995 and 2005) bronze medallist and two-time (1997, 2007) silver medallist, is making his 12th appearance as skip at the worlds.
Denmark, France and defending champion Scotland also opened with victories. Denmark, skipped by Ulrik Schmidt, beat Switzerland, 9-3; France, skipped by Thomas Dufour, was a 5-1 winner over Sweden, while Scotland, with Warwick Smith at the controls, took two in the 10th end to upend Norway, 5-4. Norway, the recent Olympic silver medallists to Canada’s Kevin Martin, was skipped today by Torger Nergaard, who replaced regular skip Thomas Ulsrud, who had to suddenly return home to Oslo for a family illness.
Smith, making his ninth appearance, is a two-time world champion – in 1999 and 2006, when playing third for Hammy McMillan and second for David Murdoch, respectively.
Round robin play continues Sunday through Thursday, with three draws daily. The playoffs commence on Friday, with the gold medal game on Sunday, April 11, live in Canada on TSN.