Canada remains unbeaten in Russia

Vernon skip Sydney Hofer delivers a stone in the Zone 2 Juvenile women’s playdowns Saturday at the Salmon Arm Curling Club. - James Murray/Black Press Sports
Vernon skip Sydney Hofer delivers a stone in the Zone 2 Juvenile women’s playdowns Saturday at the Salmon Arm Curling Club.
— image credit: James Murray/Black Press Sports

Team Canada is the lone unbeaten team heading into action today at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Sochi, Russia.

The Canadian team – skip Jim Armstrong (Cambridge, Ont.), third Dennis Thiessen (Sanford, Man.), second Ina Forrest (Armstrong), lead Sonja Gaudet (Vernon), alternate Mark Ideson (London) and coach Joe Rea (Prince George) – improved to 6-0 with a 7-1 win over Patrick McDonald of the U.S. Tuesday morning.

Canada scored single points in the first four ends to take control, then put the victory away with a deuce in the sixth and a stolen single in the seventh at the Ice Cube Curling Center, the host venue for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic curling competitions.

“It’s a wonderful venue here,” said Gaudet, who’s hoping to curl for a third Paralympic gold medal in 2014. “Accessibility is great and the ice is wonderful. So we’re really looking forward to hopefully being back here next year.”

While Canada is in solid position for a playoff spot (the top four teams advance to the playoffs), Gaudet noted the playing field is much more level than it used to be.

“I think it has evolved incredibly fast,” she said. “There isn’t much of a gap any more; we’ve all taken our game to another level.”

The Canadians posted earlier wins over Russia (8-5), China (9-5) and Slovakia (7-3), and will have a chance to nail down a playoff spot when they take on Sweden’s Jalle Jungnell (4-1) and Finland’s Vesa Hellman (3-3) in today’s action. The 10-team round-robin wraps up Thursday.

Meanwhile, Vernon entries won both the men’s and women’s regional Juvenile playdowns last weekend in Salmon Arm.

Skip Brendan Cliff went 5-1 to secure the win the men’s title, icing Thomas Love 8-6 in an all-Vernon final Sunday.

Cliff, backed by third Matthew Schiman, second Deven Schmidt and lead Matthew Young, advances to provincials, March 7-10 in Prince George.

The Vernon foursome opened the six-team spiel by icing Salmon Arm’s Grey Simms 14-0 before falling 5-4 to the Love rink (third Jonathan Schwartz, second Erik Colwell and lead Greg Geistlinger).

After that, Cliff rolled four straight wins, grounding Kamloops’ Tyler Makar 10-3 and Kelowna’s Devon Bourgeois 16-2, followed by back-to-back wins over Love, the first an 8-2 decision.

After stopping Cliff in his opener, Love bounced Bourgeois 9-5 and Steven Schafthuizen of Kamloops 5-3 to reach the finals of the double-knockout tourney.

Sydney Hofer secured one of two Juvenile girls berths to Prince George. Supported by third Erin Huitema, second Sarah Huitema, lead Emma Denty and alternate Megan deSousa, she slammed Kelowna’s Mackenzie Clark 13-3 Saturday night and shaded Kamloops’ Sierra Fisher 8-7 Sunday morning.

Vernon’s Clare Schmidt (third Emma Smith, second Jaelyn Cotter, lead Cassidy Schwaerzie and alternate Miranda Chapple) fell 6-4 to Fisher and 8-7 to Kamloops’ Jesse Biddlecombe.

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