Canada is the heavy favourite in the Ford Worlds at the Brandt Centre. France is not.
But these were the leaders at 2-and-0 following two opening draws Saturday during which Canada doubled Switzerland 8-4 and then rallied to take out Denmark 9-5; France defeated the Czech Republic 9-5 and Korea 8-2.
“Good day, 2-and-0,” expounded Canadian skip Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg. “I mean, that’s what we wanted. It’s perfect. All we can ask for. It doesn’t matter how we get them, we’re taking them.”
The Canadian team of third Jon Mead, second Reid Carruthers and lead Steve Gould gets Sunday morning off before going against Germany’s Andy Kapp in its only other weekend assignment.
The best-ever record turned in by a French team at the world men’s championship transpired at Regina in 1973 when Pierre Boan racked up seven wins.
Current French skip Thomas Dufour has twice won six in this later era — in 2007 and 2008.
“Good start, eh?” said Dufour. “We wished we could have a good start like this. Regina must be a good place for French teams. We hope it keeps going like this.”
Dufour, a ski pro from Chamonix, has dropped back to throw third stones on the French team this season with Tony Angiboust moving up to throw the fourth rocks.
“Mine weren’t so good so we made this change,” said Dufour. “It has worked out for the best so far.”
One-game winners on Saturday included China’s Yansong Ji, who killed off Germany with a clutch double-kill in a late-shift 6-4 decision, and Tom Brewster of Scotland who shaded Sweden’s Niklas Edin 7-6 without requiring the 10th-end hammer.
In the afternoon, second-favoured Norway, skipped by Olympic silver medallist Thomas Ulsrud, battled from behind by stealing four single points to defeat Korea’s Dong Keun Lee 8-7 in an extra end. And Pete Fenson’s U.S. crew from Bemidji dropped the Danes 7-4.
Playing two games proved a boon to the French squad as well as the Canucks.
“The first game gave us a lot of positive sensations and confidence,” said Dufour, who stole in front of the Koreans 3-0 in three ends and cruised through.
Canada survived a so-so start against an inferior side from Denmark with 53-year-old veteran Tommy Stjerne at the helm. The Danes climbed in front 4-2 after four before Stoughton took one, then stole four to turned the issue around.
“It just took us a while to finally get some rocks in the right positions for them not to have much of a shot,” said Stoughton. “We just knew we were going to get an opportunity, we just took our time, were patient and finally got our big end there to take control of the game. We needed some really good shots and locked a couple of good ones in there.”
Stjerne wound up looking a four enemy stones, buried in a cluster in the four-foot and was unable to get at any of them in the sixth end. The match ended after eight frames.
Scotland broke open a tight debate at the finish, tied with last rock, when Brewster elected to bury with his third’s last stone and Greg Drummond drew the rock perfectly behind two guards on the button. Sweden’s Edin was unable to open up a path with his first rock, then failed on a chip attempt with his last.
“I think we had to go in and it worked out,” said Brewster. “I knew if I left my last guard fairly high his last shot was going to be pretty difficult.”