Canada, Scotland on collision course at World Men’s

Canada’s Kevin Koe and Scotland’s Warwick Smith concluded play Monday evening with perfect 5-0 records at the Capital One World Men’s Curling Championship, taking place in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. However, only one team will remain undefeated after Tuesday morning, when the leaders collide in Draw 9 action. Canada won both its contests on Monday, a 7-5 decision over Italy (Joel Retornaz), followed by an 8-4 trouncing of Sweden (Per Carlsén) in the night draw, powered by a four-spot in the fifth end. Koe, who won last month’s Tim Hortons Brier in Halifax, is making his world debut, while seeking a leading 32nd title for Canada since the men’s championship began in 1959.  Canada’s last win came in 2008 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, by skip Kevin Martin, also the recent Olympic gold medallist. Meanwhile, Scotland disposed of China (Fengchun Wang), 8-3 and Denmark (Ulrik Schmidt), 7-4.  Smith is a two-time world champion, having played third for Hammy McMillan in 1999 in Saint John, New Brunswick, and second for David Murdoch in 2006 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Right behind the co-leaders, though, is Norway at 4-1, after wins over Japan (Makoto Tsuruga), 7-4 and United States (Pete Fenson), 6-4.   The Norwegians, silver medallists at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, are playing without skip Thomas Ulsrud, who returned home to Oslo, just prior to the competition, due to a family illness.  In his place, long-time third Torger Nergård has assumed skip duties, Denmark and Germany (Andy Kapp) are next with 3-2 records, followed by China, Italy, Switzerland (Stefan Karnusian) and United States at 2-3, France (Thomas Dufour) and Sweden at 1-4 and winless Japan (0-5). Round robin play continues through Thursday with three draws daily.  After any required tiebreakers, the first four finishers proceed to the Page Playoffs, whereby the first and second place teams meet in one game, with the winner advancing to the final on Sunday, while the loser goes to Saturday’s semi-final. In the other game, the third and fourth place teams battle, with the winner also advancing to the semi-final, while the loser goes to the bronze medal game on Sunday morning to meet the loser of the semi-final. TSN will air the semi-final on Saturday and the gold medal game on Sunday, April 11, live across Canada.