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Koe downs Russia to improve to 3-1 at world championships

BEIJING — Calgary’s Kevin Koe improved to 3-1 at the world men’s curling championship after rolling to a 9-1 victory over Russia’s Evgeny Arkhipov on Monday.

With the win, Canada moves into a tie for second place in the 12-team round-robin standings with Germany’s Johnny Jahr. The undefeated Thomas Ulsrud of Norway (4-0) has sole possession of first place.

“We played better and the ice was better,” said Koe.

“We had a bit more confidence out there, and we played pretty good. We didn’t have to talk so much about weight.

“Yesterday, honestly, spots were 10 to 15 feet different from each other. Today, it was a couple feet max, and that makes it a lot easier on the brains.”

Koe’s rink opened the tournament Saturday with a 6-3 win over Denmark.

But dropped a 9-6 decision to Japan Sunday before beating host China 9-6.

The Canadians were scored at 96 per cent collectively against Russia, with lead Nolan Thiessen and second Carter Rycroft both scoring perfect games.

“That felt way better,” said Rycroft. “We threw some stinkers yesterday, and we were lucky to get away with 1-1. Finally, today, we felt like we got a bit of a handle on things.

“We were throwing them properly. Still missing a few, but at least we’re throwing them with conviction. The results? You can’t worry about them too much because you still get caught on certain spots.”

Canada stole single points in each of the first four ends. Russia scored a point in the sixth, though it missed an opportunity for a potential deuce.

The game was put away in the seventh as the Russians’ attempt at a steal went south, and Koe scored five to prompt handshakes.

“We’re happy to be 3-1,” said Koe. “Obviously, we would have liked to have that (loss to Japan) back yesterday when we were up three. But that’s going to happen every once in a while. Three-and-one, that’s not a bad spot.”

Canada plays Jiri Snitil of the Czech Republic later Monday.

In their earlier game, China picked up a steal of one in the fourth end when Koe’s open takeout attempt overcurled. Canada pulled even at 3-3 with a deuce in the fifth and stole three points in the sixth end when Liu’s draw was wide.

Koe added a deuce in the eighth end and one more point in the 10th for the victory.

“That’s big,” Koe said. “I mean, you don’t want to get 1-2 this early in the week. It (would) be a long week, for sure.”

Teams are still adjusting to the ice conditions in the warm, humid Chinese capital. There have been some uncharacteristic misses over the first weekend of competition, such as Koe’s mistake in the fourth end against China.

“I didn’t think I threw it too bad in the fourth,” said Koe.

“Sometimes you throw it and you think you know what it’ll do and it still doesn’t do that. So that’s frustrating. We’re used to a little more out of ourselves, so we just have to realize that it’s tough for both teams and we have to stick with it.”

The Canadian icemaking tandem of Hans Wuthrich and Greg Ewasko have had some challenges — including a contaminated water supply — in their effort to create top-flight conditions.

“You just have to accept that there’s going to be some nuances on each sheet,” Simmons said. “If you can get control of the game and make the other team play those hard shots, then it’s obviously a big advantage.

“We were able to do that and make him shoot against a few of our rocks the one end (the seventh) and we were lucky enough to get the steal. Yeah, we’ll take it.”

The Czech Republic, Russia, China and the United States were 1-2 while Denmark and Scotland remained winless at 0-3.

The Canadians will play Russia and the Czechs on Monday.

Koe won gold in his only previous appearance at the world championship, taking top spot at the 2010 tournament in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy.

Canada has won gold three of the last four world championships. Jeff Stoughton was victorious in 2011 in Regina and Glenn Howard won at Basel, Switzerland in 2012.

 
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