At this level, it's a game of inches

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

Kevin Martin said it going into the Roar of the Rings.

"Every game will be really, really tight. A lot of extra end games. A lot of wins by one inch. One roll."

He lost one that way yesterday. He needed to hit an eighth of the rock to score two and win by one on the last end.

Missed by three inches. Lost.

Almost everyone predicted the storyline. Now we're witnessing why the curlers were calling this "the greatest bonspiel ever" before it began.

Maybe some of it sounded like hype. Or hooey.

But only two days in, it's happening. And it's been a happening.

In Sunday's openers, six of the eight games went down to the last rock.

Six!

It was a day only four of 1,280 rocks were left unthrown.

Yesterday it kept cooking. Two more down-to-the-last-rock games with every draw.

In the morning, Cheryl Bernard of Calgary, who the night before had to make an exceptional no-room-for-error last rock double takeout to win, was curling from the edge of a cliff again.

She beat Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay on a 10th end measurement.

"I don't like measurements much," she said.

But she liked this one. It gave her a 2-0 jump and the only woman who headed into last night's third women's draw undefeated.

LAST ROCK

In the evening she had another one. Seemingly with the game in hand for two hours, she had to make her last rock hot to win again.

"I thought this was the game it wasn't going to go to the last end," she said of a 9-6 win over Crystal Webster of Calgary.

If that wasn't enough, Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon had to draw full four-foot with her final rock in an extra end to defeat Webster in the morning.

McCarville made a double-takeout to score two with her last rock in the10th end to beat Lawton 6-5 in the evening.

Wild and crazy stuff.

In the only men's draw of the day, Ontario curlers Glenn Howard and Wayne Middaugh went down to the last rock for the second straight draw.

STREAK

Howard, who won the Worlds here with an 11-0 record in 2007, kept his streak alive with another last-rock victory over his old teammate, who is now 5-15 at trials.

"I've had great luck here. I get a warm and fuzzy feeling walking in here," said Howard, the luck extending to a miss by Middaugh on his last rock and a win the night before when Jeff Stoughton flashed with his final stone.

But it was Martin, who generally only gasses games with his last rock at Olympics and world championships, who missed to give the game to Pat Simmons and leave only Howard and Edmonton's Kevin Koe unbeaten after two draws.

"It floated a bit. I liked it a lot out of my hand," Martinsaid.

"Five and two is the answer to the equation -- the longer you can stay away from the two part."

Martin admits he predicted it. He was just hoping it wouldn't happen to him.

"All week is going to be like that. The field is fantastic. The games are really, really close."

Koe is the only person on the property who is 2-0 and hasn't had to throw his last brick yet.

"I don't think we can count on that continuing," he said. "That can't keep going on all week."

CCA event boss Warren Hansen said what we've watched so far proves the three-year points gathering system to qualify for the Olympic trials is the way to go.

"We have something really special now, something that no other event anywhere in the world qualifying athletes to get to the Olympics can even come close to offering in comparison," he said.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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