Twists and turns in Italy

SEAN GRASSIE, FOR SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

CORTINA, Italy -- We've been living dangerously up in this mountainous region of Northern Italy.

But it's been a winning recipe as Allison Nimik and myself moved to 4-0 at the world mixed doubles curling championship after pulling out two cliffhangers yesterday. We beat Scotland 6-3 in the morning, then edged Russia 7-6 in an extra-end in a first-place showdown.

The match against Russia had as many twists and turns as the winding roads of Cortina. The Russians drew for one in the sixth end to go up 5-4. They elected not to simply peel our shot rock out and blank the end because -- under this format -- we would have wrestled away the hammer. We scored a deuce the next end, held them to one in the eighth, and then didn't need to throw our last rock in the extra end after Russia's triple-takeout attempt barely missed.

Against Scotland, they came up short on a draw to the eight-foot in the seventh end to give us a steal of three and a 6-3 lead coming home. But even the most routine of shots can be difficult out here, as the weight on the rock comes off quickly when it catches the big curl and you don't have your two sweepers to pound it from the time it leaves your hand.

Three up playing the last end, though, is hardly safe in this game. Before each end starts, a stationary rock of each colour is set up -- one as a centre guard and the other behind it at the back of the button. The team with last rock decides the order of the stones, and inevitably they choose to have their rock in the house.

So Scotland already had a stone buried before the final end started, and after a couple of good come-arounds they had their tying points set up. But the Scots slid their second last shot through the rings, and my teammate Alli picked out their counter for the win.

We meet Bulgaria in our only game today. The Bulgarians have had adventures of a different kind as they've lost by a combined 25-6 score in their first two outings.

Sean Grassie is playing for Team Canada at the world mixed doubles curling championship.


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