Howard finds his stride at worlds
Canada skip Glenn Howard delivers a shot against Germany at the World Men's Curling Championship in Basel, Switzerland April 1, 2012. (ARND WIEGMANN/Reuters)
Canada's Glenn Howard seems to have found his stride at the men's world curling championship in Basel, Switzerland.
The 2007 world champ beat Germany and the USA on Sunday to improve his record to 3-0 and sits in a first-place tie with Sweden.
Canada might be most people's title favourite while the USA team are appearing for the first time, but this didn't stop USA skip Heath McCormick giving Canada a real run for their money.
The Americans caused some raised eyebrows when McCormick hit for three points and a 4-2 lead in the third end. He then followed that with a well-judged hit through a port between two other stones to score one in the sixth and level the game at 5-5.
But eventually, the Canadians' superiority prevailed and they won a tighter game than most people expected, by 8-7.
"It doesn't matter that it's tight, we just wanted to get another win under our belts," said Howard. "I thought we played a really good game. Heath McCormick made some unbelievable second shots that kept him in the game. He made a couple of pistols in the ninth, but we're 3-0 and we couldn't be happier. Heath made a huge bunch of shots -- if he misses any one of those, it's going to be a blow-out. But it was a great game and kudos to Team USA."
In the morning game, Canada made short work of Germany, taking a 9-2 decision in just six ends.
Howard jumped on an early mistake to score a four-ender in the opening frame.
The Germans couldn't recover from that blow and added to their troubles when, in the fourth end, their fourth player Felix Schulze missed a takeout attempt to let Canada steal two more points and take an unassailable 8-1 lead.
"The first end was obviously a turning point," said Howard. "If he curled half an inch, I'm playing against two, but it didn't and all of a sudden I'm drawing for four."
Howard knows this is a long week and even though his team has not been as dominant as it was at the 2007 worlds in Edmonton, they're getting the job done.
"This is an exercise in patience and our first goal is get to the playoffs," said Howard. "You've got 11 games in the round-robin, so we're just taking one game at a time."
Despite the enforced absence of their injury-hit regular skip Niklas Edin, Sweden can do no wrong as stand-in skip Sebastian Kraupp had another good game against the Czech Republic.
"It's quite strange for us and for me as a skip as well," said Kraupp, who expects Edin will be out the next two days. "But it feels good."