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Canada's Gushue splits games on opening day at World Men's Curling Championship

Canada Curling Brad Gushue - The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Virtually nothing went Brad Gushue's way in his opening game at the world men's curling championship on Saturday.

Some stones picked. Other shots were simply missed. And a tough Switzerland side made the Canadians pay.

Yannick Schwaller delivered an emphatic 8-3 win over Canada in a round-robin opener that was essentially over at the fifth-end break.

"That was awful," Gushue said. "We haven't had our butts kicked like that in a long time."

Canada bounced back in the evening draw with a 10-6 victory over Italy's Joel Retornaz.

The Canadians entered the competition brimming with confidence after a strong performance at the national playdowns last month. An adoring home crowd at TD Place was eager to show them some love.

But Schwaller and Swiss fourth Benoit Schwarz put the pressure on from the start with quality shotmaking that put Canada on its heels.

A Swiss deuce was followed by a force in the second end. A Gushue rock picked in the third, leading to another Swiss pair.

A 7-1 lead after six ends made handshakes tempting. But the Canadians stuck around and used the late ends to get more of a feel for the ice and conditions.

"It's hard to get twos out there," said Canada vice Mark Nichols. "So I think those last few ends was more learning and trying to stay in it."

This was unfamiliar territory for a team used to being on the opposite end of a rout. Gushue could only chuckle and shrug his shoulders afterward.

His initial reaction was to reference CNN anchor Jake Tapper's memorable description of a U.S. presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump in 2020.

"That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck."

Gushue did make a tap in the seventh end for a deuce to finally give the crowd something to cheer about.

He acknowledged his effort with a self-deprecating wave of the hand.

"When I made it, I played to the crowd a little bit," Gushue said. "But (the game) was frustrating for me."

The veteran skip said he was quite pleased with the 16 rocks that he threw but he still finished with a game-low shooting mark of 70 per cent.

"I threw them really good," he said. "We obviously didn't have the broom in the right spot."

Nichols wasn't much better at 73 per cent. Schwarz, meanwhile, finished at 84 per cent.

"We've just got to play better," Gushue said. "We've got to throw it better. We've got to communicate better. There's a lot of things we can improve on."

In the night draw, Canada jumped out to an early 4-1 lead and Retornaz flashed a blank attempt in the fifth to make it a four-point game.

The Italian skip was heavy with a draw attempt in the seventh to give Canada a chance for a three. Gushue drew the four-foot ring to take full control of the game.

Earlier, defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden rolled to an 8-2 win over Germany's Sixten Totzek. Scotland's Bruce Mouat topped Italy 7-4 and South Korea's Byeongjin Jeong dumped New Zealand's Anton Hood 8-2.

In Draw 2, Lukas Klima of the Czech Republic downed New Zealand 8-1 and Norway's Magnus Ramsfjell beat American John Shuster 8-5.

Turkey's Ugurcan Karagoz dropped a 4-3 decision to Japan's Riku Yanagisawa in an extra end. It was Turkey's first appearance at a world men's championship.

Competition continues through April 9.

Gushue, from St. John's, N.L., won silver at last year's world championship in Las Vegas. His lone world title came in 2017 at Edmonton.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2023.

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