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Canada's Gushue wins one, loses one to open men's world curling championship


LAS VEGAS — Canada's Brad Gushue wasn't pleased to be .500 after the first day of the men's world curling championship.

Gushue's team from St. John's, N.L., fell 8-7 to Scotland's Bruce Mouat after a 7-6 win over Russia's Alexey Timofeev on Saturday.

"Terrible. It was a bad day and not even the record. Just the way we played," the Canadian skip said. "Having a real hard time with the ice. It's not very good."

Gushue was frustrated by what he considered slow and straight ice at the Orleans Arena, saying a quicker and livelier surface makes for better, more entertaining curling.

"Early in the week, you want to learn the ice and get a feel out there and we're struggling with that right now," he explained.

"I don't want to harp on it too much, but the ice has got to improve and hopefully (the icemakers) are feeling it out too and can make some adjustments and have it not so slow and straight."

Aware he wasn't endearing himself to the ice crews, Gushue added with a wry chuckle 'we're spoiled. And that's why I'm complaining because we're spoiled brats."

Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker out of the Bally Haly Golf and Country Club went undefeated to win the world title last year in Edmonton.

They're attempting to become the fifth team to repeat and the first since Edmonton's Randy Ferbey in 2002 and 2003.

Saskatchewan's Ernie Richardson twice won back-to-back world championships (1959-60, 1962-63). Calgary's Ron Northcott in 1968-69 and Winnipeg's Don Duguid in 1970-71 also won two in a row.

Canada plays one game Sunday against Switzerland's Marc Pfister (0-2) in the evening draw.

The Orleans Arena was the site of the international Continental Cup of Curling in 2014, 2016 and 2017, but Las Vegas is the host city of a world curling championship for the first time.

After opening ceremonies that included Elvis and Marilyn Monroe lookalikes, women clad in sparkly bikinis carrying in the trophy, a military colour guard and the traditional bagpipes, the most southerly world curling championship to date got underway.

"That opening ceremonies . . . we've been here since 10 o'clock this morning," Gushue said. "We haven't left the rink, so we're tired. Our legs were tired and I think that played a factor.

"We'll be better tomorrow night and hopefully the ice is better too. That combination will allow us to perform the way we want to perform."

The temperature was 27 C outside the arena, but well-refrigerated inside. The 8,000-seat rink was one-third full for both draws and liberally sprinkled with Canadian flags.

Olympic silver medallist Niklas Edin of Sweden opened 2-0. China's Dejia Zou, South Korea's Chang-min Kim, Norway's Steffen Walstad and Greg Persinger of the U.S. joined the Scots at 1-0.

Russia, Germany's Alexander Baumann, Italy's Joel Retornaz, Jaap Van Dorp of the Netherlands and Japan's Go Awoki were all 0-1.

The World Curling Federation changed the championship format this year allowing six teams to make the playoff round instead of the previous four.

The top two teams after the preliminary round earn byes to the semifinals, while teams three to six meet in the quarterfinals. The medal games will be played April 8.

Mouat won the world junior men's curling championship two years ago. The average age of his team in Las Vegas is 23.5, but they weren't intimidated facing the defending champs.

"It's a big step up for our team, first world championships," Mouat said. "We're excited to be here so we're maybe living off a little bit of adrenaline, but we definitely played the way we wanted to and executed well."

Both teams were short on time as Canada had 30 seconds left on the clock when Gushue threw his last stone.

He missed an attempted angle raise takeout leaving Mouat — with 18 seconds remaining — a draw for two and the win in the 10th.

"What really frustrates me is the last shot," Gushue said. "We were short on time and that's mostly my fault. Mark said that shot was there.

"We hit it right where we wanted and it wasn't even close to there."

Mouat attempted a wide double takeout in the ninth to score two, but wrecked on a guard and gave up a steal of one to trail 7-6 coming home with hammer.

Canada was up 5-4 after holding the Scots to a single point in the sixth, but relinquished the lead in the seventh when they gave up a steal of two.

Hitting against four Scottish stones, Gushue's shooter rolled wide to give up the deuce.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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