MONCTON, N.B. — Kevin Martin has secured first place at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship. Now, the Edmonton skip just needs to stay the course as the rest of the competition scrambles for position.
Martin posted two more convincing wins Wednesday to improve to 9-0 and clinch the top seed in the playoffs.
“Just consistent play, that’s all we have to get done now,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about any outcomes now. If anybody beats us, that’s fine.”
Martin opened the day with a 12-4 thrashing of Kalle Kiiskinen of Finland then followed it up with a 9-6 win over John Shuster of the U.S. in the afternoon draw. Canada was off for the evening draw.
“Oh he’s on fire,” said Thomas Ulsrud of Norway, who tightened his hold on to second place at 6-2 Wednesday morning with a 10-4 whipping of Thomas Dufour of France. “He’s really on fire and he’s crushing everybody.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the stands for the game against Shuster in which Martin gave up a rare steal of two in the first end. But he rebounded with two in the second end and four in the fourth to take control.
It was a rare challenge for the Martin rink.
“We haven’t had to do that this week,” he said. “We had to bear down and then the guys did. The next four ends after we gave up the deuce we played pretty solid.”
Through play Wednesday, Martin had played the 10th end only twice but hadn’t thrown his final stone. Still, he knows nothing is guaranteed.
“I’ve been here quite a few times but only won it once,” Martin said. “So I don’t think we’ll get caught like that I hope.
“In the back of the mind there is the motivation. You want the pressure, you want the big games, you want the highs and the lows and that’s what sport is all about.”
Shuster, who improved to 5-4 after a 6-5 win over Finland in Wednesday’s late draw, was disappointed but said it shows he can play with the defending champion.
“I think we belong here and that we’re one of the better teams in the world,” Shuster said. “But I’m not saying that we should beat them every day.”
For those battling for the final playoff positions, Canada’s play has been amazing to watch.
“He’s like the Tiger Woods of curling on the ice,” said Ulsrud. “There’s Kevin and then there’s nothing, nothing and all the other back, you know.”
Against Kiiskinen, Martin scored four points in the first end, three in the third and four in the fourth in a game that went just six ends.
Ulsrud said the biggest challenge for Canada could be maintaining its focus especially with how dominant Martin has been so far.
“That’s probably the biggest problem for these guys,” said Ulsrud, who won the bronze medal last year.
“They don’t get any tough matches anymore, at least so far, but we will see what happens at the end of the week.”
David Murdoch of Scotland moved into a tie for second place with a 6-5 extra-end win over Ulsrud in the late draw. Scotland scored one in the 11th end after Norway tied it with one in the 10th. Both teams are 6-3.
In other late draw results, Switzerland beat the Czech Republic 5-2 and Denmark edged Germany 5-4.
Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the United States are tied for fourth at 5-4.