Quick start in Italy

SEAN GRASSIE, FOR SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

CORTINA, Italy -- It's an odd scenario to be playing your first ever competitive mixed doubles curling games at a world championship, but we passed the introduction yesterday to start 2-0.

And we did it by meeting two daunting tests, first beating last year's runner-up team from Finland 9-4 and then scoring a 7-4 win over a tenacious Italian duo that had a boisterous home crowd on its side.

We went up 6-2 on Finland after counting four in the third end, but we couldn't simply peel the game out since you can't remove any rock until the fourth stone of an end under this format.

It's like playing a skins game, where piles of rocks are in play and the finesse game is put at a premium.

Fortunately for us, we positioned our stones in favourable spots while the Finns slid heavy on the fast ice too many times.

You get up and sweep your own rocks in doubles curling, and teammate Alli Nimik and I have been burning more calories than usual as back-end players.

My curling jacket came off for the first time ever after the fourth end against Finland.

But the Finnish skip was clearly suffering. He is used to curling back home in a facility that is covered by a tent and is as cold as the outside temperature.

With few sweeping calls it is quiet on the ice, but it was electric in the crowd when we played host Italy.

Some great last-rock shots by Alli, though, kept the excitement in check. She is throwing the first and fifth rocks of every end, leaving me with stones two, three and four.

Alli made a delicate freeze with her final rock in the sixth end to hold Italy to one, and then drew for three the next end to put us up three coming home.

The introduction is over, but it doesn't get easier as we face 2-0 Scotland and 2-0 Russia today.

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Winnipeg's Sean Grassie is representing Canada at the world mixed curling championships.


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