Canada drops to 3-1 at mixed curling worlds

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Canada lost its first match at the world mixed doubles curling championship, falling 7-5 to the Czech Republic in Monday’s late draw.

The Canadian duo of Edmonton’s Joanne Courtney and Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers began the day with a 14-0 win over Kazakhstan.

But the Czech Republic tandem of Zuzana Hajkova and Tomas Paul stole crucial single points in the third and fourth ends en route to victory, leaving the Czechs in a tie for first place with the United States in Group D at 4-0. Canada dropped to 3-1.

Canada was sitting shot rock behind cover in the eighth end when Hajkova made a hack-weight pick to remove the Canadian counter.

“They played fantastic and we just had a few too many misses,” said Courtney. “I had a shot for four in the fourth end and threw it just a little bit too heavy, and that would have been a game-changer. But we’re learning the ice, getting more comfortable out there, and it was still close in the end.”

That fourth end would prove pivotal as Canada was sitting second, third and fourth shot, with a Czech stone protected, but accessible with the right weight. But Courtney’s tap was heavy and went by, leaving the Czechs with the steal.

Canada, coached by Jeff Stoughton, plays Germany’s Julia Meissner and Andy Büttner (2-2) on Tuesday.

Carruthers suggested Monday’s late result won’t detract from Canada’s objective at the tournament.

“We have to make the playoffs — that’s the No. 1 goal,” Carruthers said. “If we win one or two more of our games, then we’ll be in a real good spot to make the playoffs, and we’ll go from there.”

The results in Lethbridge will help determine the seven countries that will join host South Korea when mixed curling makes its Olympic debut at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

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