Rounding into form

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- A full week to the day since landing in Scotland, the Canadian curling team finally kicked the extended jet lag yesterday.

"We finally arrived," Canadian lead Cathy Gauthier said after her team earned two huge victories at the world women's curling championship.

"We finally had that feeling of in-your-face curling that we like to feel."

Although they were matched up against a pair of lesser lights yesterday, the Canadians needed to prove they could set aside bad ice and other bothersome issues at this world championship and string together some good games.

They did that, beating Japan 13-7 and drubbing Denmark 9-3, but more importantly, they played well in back-to-back draws.

"That was a big day," said Canadian skip Jennifer Jones, whose team now has a 6-2 record and is sitting pretty for a playoff berth. "The last five ends of the (Denmark game) we played like we can and that's what we needed.

"That's what we needed more so than the wins. We just needed to put a few ends together and be the team that we can be and go into (today) with some confidence."

Canada has a huge test today in the form of an American team that is vying for top spot with a 7-1 mark.

Cassie Johnson's U.S. squad went 1-1 yesterday, suffering its first defeat of the tournament at the hands of Sweden (7-0), before bouncing back for a 9-4 win over Finland.

The Swedes topped Finland 11-4 last night to remain undefeated.

Canada also plays Italy today, and a pair of wins would put the Winnipeg foursome in a position to finish either first or second and claim a berth in the coveted 1-vs-2 Page playoff game.

A loss, particularly to the Americans, would make it almost impossible for Canada to finish any higher than third.

Canada has already lost to the first-place Swedes.

"We're still in tough ... we're only at the halfway point," said Canadian third Cathy Overton-Clapham.

But everyone on the Canadian team is feeling much better about herself today after the foursome overcame challenging ice conditions to finally show some consistency.

"We're playing a little bit more consistent, and we have a little more confidence," Jones said. "We just have to win two of our last three and we'll be all right."

Canada is tied for third place with Dordi Nordby of Norway (6-2), whose team was surprised 8-5 by Russia yesterday.

SHARPER

Members of the Jones foursome never admit to watching the standings, only to concerning themselves with what they can control.

"We were a little sharper (yesterday), and we want to keep building on that," second Jill Officer said.

As it turns out, a lot of what was wrong with Canada was simply letting little things get to them.

"Up until now it was sort of tense," Gauthier said. "You know, we were down, and we shouldn't be down, and we should be winning. We've just got to relax a little and chill out, and we did. I feel just wonderful.

"To be 6-2 and finally feel like we are here, it's a great spot to be in."

Canada's last game of the round robin is tomorrow morning against Norway, and that could loom large in the battle for playoff position.

In fact, all the games are critical now, because given the unpredictable ice conditions, Canada needs to be in the 1-2 game to avoid any potential sudden-death situations (i.e., the 3-vs-4 game).

Something in the loose way the Canadians played yesterday suggests they are ready.


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