Canadian men, women stay unbeaten in curling

The favored and unbeaten Canadian men’s curlers were dominant

Thursday, winning so handily that both of their opponents conceded

defeat early. John Shuster and the winless American curlers keep

missing when it matters most.

Skip Kevin Martin’s foursome beat Sweden 7-3 in the morning

session in a match shortened to nine ends. In the evening, Canada

routed France 12-5, with the French throwing in the towel after

eight ends in front of another enthusiastic crowd on the ice sheets

at Vancouver Olympic Centre.

“They took the sheet for themselves,” French skip Thomas

Dufour said. “It was too tense to play normal curling. I need to

keep my nerves and tension down. For me, it’s exciting. I play

curling for a long time. All players want to play Canada. We learn

from every loss.”

The Canadians scored five points in the fourth end, matching

France’s output for the entire match. Martin is now assured of

achieving the first of his stated goals: He wanted to win four of

Canada’s first five games and seven overall in the nine games of

group play.

“I really don’t think anybody’s going to go through this

undefeated,” Martin said. “We’re getting to the stages where we

wanted to be.”

But now that he’s won his first four, does he have to set a new

goal?

“Then it’s 5-0,” he said with a laugh between the morning and

evening sessions.

Canada was the only unbeaten team left in the men’s draw after

Switzerland lost 7-4 to Norway in the evening session. Norway and

Switzerland are tied for second in the standings with Sweden, which

beat China 6-5. The world champion British team rebounded from a

morning loss to defeat Denmark 9-6.

In the morning session, Denmark edged the United States 7-6 in

an extra end to keep the Americans winless and in sole possession

of last place after four matches. Norway beat Germany 7-4, and

Switzerland topped Britain 4-3.

The Canadians also stayed perfect in women’s play, defeating

Germany 6-5 in an extra end in a matchup featuring previously

undefeated squads.

“It hurts right now,” U.S. lead John Benton said. “We’re

definitely on the way, way outside. Something magical would have to

happen for us to make the medal round.”

Cheryl Bernard’s Canadians, who struggled to get past Japan 7-6

on Wednesday, converted her final rock yet again – another dramatic

finish that kept the home fans on the edge of their seats.

“I’m doing it so I get used to the crowd and feel the

pressure,” Bernard joked.

Britain’s women, led by 19-year-old skip Eve Muirhead, routed

Russia 10-3 in a match that was done after eight ends when the

Russians conceded. Reigning world champion China beat Japan 9-5,

and Denmark beat the United States 7-6.

It’s been a woeful tournament for the Americans, whose men and

women have combined to lose all seven of their matches.

“Both teams, it’s kind of hard,” U.S. women’s vice skip

Allison Pottinger said. “We’re trying to stay positive, the boys

are trying to stay positive but it does get hard.”