LAS VEGAS — Canada skip Brad Gushue got the match he wanted at the world men's curling championship, if not the result.
Gushue suffered his first defeat in round-robin play Wednesday, a 7-5 loss to Sweden's Niklas Edin.
Gushue's record improved to 7-1 later in the day with an 8-3 victory over Finland's Kalle Kiiskinen. Edin, the reigning Olympic and world champion, dropped a 7-5 decision to South Korea's Soo-Hyuk Kim.
Canada led the 13-team standings ahead of Scotland's Kyle Waddell (6-2), Sweden (6-3), American Korey Dropkin, Switzerland's Yannick Schwaller and South Korea (all 5-3).
After days of games with inconsistent starts and wild linescores due to unpredictable ice conditions, the Canada-Sweden showdown between two of the world's top teams unfolded more like a chess match.
"It was our best 10 ends," Gushue said. "I think if we play that sort of game against most teams out here we're going to be successful, but Niklas is on a different level than most of the teams here."
Gushue said improved ice conditions and a more tactical game made his lone loss so far at the Orleans Arena less stressful than his early victories.
"We knew what the rocks were going to do and we were confident we could get it in the ballpark on each and every rock," Gushue said. "When you take that level of anxiety out that we had in the first six games, that makes it easier."
Gushue had the chance to score multiple points in the sixth end, but a miss left Sweden with a steal of one.
The first pair of the game didn't come until the seventh end. A Swedish come-around attempt was a tad heavy, allowing Gushue to score the deuce.
Edin answered with a pair of his own in the eighth end to move back into the lead.
Gushue had a chance for two in the ninth but missed on his last shot, giving Edin the hammer with the score tied 5-5 entering the final end. Edin capped the win with a takeout on his last shot of the game.
"We both made some mistakes out there," Gushue said. "Unfortunately we probably made one more than they did."
Finland (3-6) made a lineup change Wednesday due to a positive COVID-19 test. Alternate Jermu Pollanen filled in at second for Leo Ouni.
Canada scored a deuce in the third end and picked up another pair in the sixth when Kiiskinen's last stone overcurled on a triple-takeout attempt. The teams shook hands after a Canadian steal of two in the ninth end.
Gushue, from St. John's, skipped his team to a fourth Brier title in six years at last month's national championship.
The team played as a threesome on the final weekend after vice Mark Nichols tested positive for COVID-19. Gushue did not have an alternate at the event. E.J. Harnden is serving as team fifth at the worlds.
Gushue, Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker won Olympic bronze last February. Their lone world title together came in 2017.
Edin, a five-time world champion, beat Gushue in the semifinals in Beijing en route to the gold medal. The Swedish skip is the three-time defending world champ.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2022.
The Canadian Press