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Perfect start for Canada's wheelchair curlers

March 12, 2006
CBC Sports

Canada sits in a tie atop the wheelchair curling standings at the Torino Paralympic Winter Games after opening the tournament with two wins on Sunday.

Team Canada, made up of skip Chris Daw, third Gerry Austgarden, second Gary Cormack, lead Sonja Gaudet and alternate Karen Blachford, defeated Switzerland 5-1 in Sunday's afternoon draw to move to 2-0.

After the teams blanked the first end Canada picked up steals of one in both the second and third. Switzerland got one back in the fourth and looked to be in position to score again when it was lying three in the fifth. But Daw executed a nifty double takeout with his first stone of the end and went on to count one to extend Canada's lead to 3-1.

A steal of two in the sixth and final end wrapped up Canada's 5-1 win, which dropped the Swiss to 1-1 on the tournament.

Canada is tied for first in the round-robin standings with Norway, which moved to 2-0 with a 10-3 pasting of the United States on Sunday afternoon. The Americans dropped to 0-2.

Meanwhile, Great Britain evened its record at 1-1 with a 5-3 win over Denmark, which fell to 0-2, and Italy improved to 1-1 with a 7-1 drubbing of Sweden, which dropped to 1-1.

Canada opened the tournament with a 6-3 win over Denmark in Sunday's morning draw.

The teams traded one-point ends to start the game before Denmark scored a deuce in the third to take a 3-1 lead.

Denmark threatened to break the game open in the fourth before Daw made the key shot of the game. Drawing against three Danish stones, the Canadian skip stopped his rock on the back of the four-foot to score one and cut Denmark's lead to 3-2.

Canada then scored three in the fifth end to surge ahead before adding a steal of one in the sixth to seal the 6-3 victory.

"It was a good game," Daw, who is from London, Ont., told the Canadian Press. "We stuck to our game plan and followed it the way we wanted to and came out on top."

In other first-draw action, Sweden defeated the United States 6-4, Switzerland edged Great Britain 4-3 and Norway pounded Italy 9-3.

Wheelchair curling is making its Paralympic debut in Turin. The sport generally follows the same rules as Olympic curling, with a few notable exceptions: games consist of six ends rather than ten, teams must be comprised of both male and female players, shooters may use an extender cue to deliver their rocks and no sweeping is allowed.

Team Canada continues round-robin play on Tuesday with games against Sweden and Norway.

Each of the eight teams in the tournament plays seven round-robin games, one against each of the other teams, with the four teams that post the best records advancing to the semifinals on Mar. 17. The bronze-medal game goes later that day and the gold-medal game is scheduled for the following day.


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