SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. — Canada’s greatest opponent is proving to be the ice it plays on.
Chelsea Carey won a tense game for a 5-4 victory over Italy’s Federica Apollonio on Tuesday afternoon in Draw 10 of the women’s curling world championship, hours after beating Germany’s Daniela Driendl.
Carey (6-1) said after the second game that dropping temperatures outside and the humidity from all the fans in the stands at the Credit Union iPlex made the ice difficult to play on.
"It’s just too heavy, it’s just so heavy and frosty," said Carey of the ice. "In the mornings it’s great, like this morning was wonderful, the ice was fantastic. It’s really conducive, it’s what you’d expect.
"It’s tough here. It must be the weather and the crowds. The crowds are fantastic but all those people in the building heats everything up and the frost just creeps in."
Apollonio’s rink (0-6) offered handshakes in the 10th end after missing a takeout when their last stone slowed up. Canada had the hammer and was already sitting for a single when Italy conceded.
"It was a little bit of a struggle out there today," said second Jocelyn Peterman. "But we pulled it off so we’re happy.
"The ice was just a little heavier than we’re used to. It was a struggle in all senses. There was a lot of sweeping."
The heavy ice conditions made its presence felt almost immediately as Carey came up short on a draw attempt in the first end, but Canada was sitting single for an early 1-0 lead.
"I looked like a fool in the first end," said Carey. "I threw it exactly how we wanted me to and I looked like an idiot because I came up 10 feet short.
"That’s really hard to deal with mentally because I don’t miss draws by 10 feet in normal conditions."
Italy replied with a single of its own in the second but the Canadians reclaimed the lead with a point in the third. Apollonio hit for a single in the fourth to keep it 2-2, then Carey didn’t put enough weight behind her takeout in the fifth end for a 3-2 Italian lead at the break.
Carey blanked in the sixth end to keep the hammer, then drew in to score a deuce in the seventh to take a 4-3 lead. A blank by Italy in the eighth maintained the Canadian lead and with a single in the ninth Apollonio tied it 4-4.
Charlie Horse, the mascot of the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos, was in the stands for the afternoon draw, leading cheers as "director of fan morale" for the tournament.
Earlier in the day, Carey’s Calgary-based rink took advantage of steals in the seventh and eighth ends to pull away from Germany (3-3).
Canada opened with a single in the first end, but Driendl replied with an easy draw in the second to tie the game. The teams blanked the third end and Carey added a single in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead.
Driendl threw a takeout in the fifth end for three points but Carey replied with a deuce in the sixth to tie it 4-4.
Canada stole a point in the seventh when Germany missed on a takeout attempt.
Driendl’s woes continued in the eighth end when she hit a guard on her final rock, giving Canada another steal. Local school groups in the arena chanted "Let’s Go Canada!" as the German skip was visibly upset at her misplay.
The home-country support hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Canadian curlers.
"It’s fun to be here," said third Amy Nixon. "Every time we walk out and the crowd cheers, whether it’s Tuesday morning in Swift Current or Sunday night, it give me tingles every time.
"The kids here today from the schools, they were awesome."
Germany used a light tap to cut into Canada’s lead in the ninth end, but that handed Carey the hammer to close out the game. She made the most of her last throw with a tapout that gave Canada a single and the win.