Opening-day joy for Canada and United States men
New Koe line-up starts with victory while Ruohonen stun Edin
Team Koe’s new-look rink started their Curling World Cup campaign with a hard-fought victory on day one in Suzhou while Team Ruohenen took the prized scalp of world champions Team Edin.
The Canadian line-up, featuring debutants BJ Neufeld and Colton Flasch, conquered Switzerland’s Olympic bronze medallists Team De Cruz in what was a tight affair.
Locked at 4-4 after five ends, the sixth proved the turning point for Koe. A draw for three gave them a 6-3 lead that was never threatened thereafter.
United States’ match with Sweden was equally tight, with Team Edin 4-3 down but with the hammer in the final end. Greg Persinger’s inspired angle double raise gave Edin only a slender chance of saving themselves with the final stone, which they just missed, losing out 6-4.
Persinger said of his critical shot: “One of the things with this format is you have to think and act really fast. We picked that shot out even before their previous shot so I was focused on that shot the whole time. I saw it in my head.
“It was a back-and-forth game. We’re just getting used to this format, we had one time when we were throwing a rock with just a few seconds left. The ice conditions as far as speed aren’t quite what we’re used to. I think the whole week is going to be a battle with the other teams.
“That is a big win for us. All these teams are going to be tough for us, but obviously they’re the toughest team in our pool as far as rankings are concerned.”
Scotland encountered few problems in their 9-1 victory over Japan, who shook hands after the sixth end.
Vice-skip Grant Hardie was pleased with a solid performance and was already looking forward to Thursday’s encounters with Canada and Switzerland.
“We know they [Team Koe] are a new line-up and hopefully we can use that to our advantage, but we know it’s going to be a big challenge,” said the 26-year-old. “We’ll have to take it up a gear and give it our best if we’re to compete with them two.”
On the victory over Japan’s Team Aoki, he reflected: ”We had a couple of ropey ones in the first end just figuring out the ice and the new environment but once we got comfortable with the conditions we settled into our game and played a really good six ends.”
Hosts China were beaten 4-2 by Norway in the other men’s match in the late evening session. Up 4-0 at the fourth-end break, Team Walstad were able to play it safe thereafter to close out a 4-2 win. They next face Sweden on Thursday lunchtime.