Canada's Glenn Howard posted two more victories Monday to remain unbeaten at the world men's curling championship.
Howard beat Norway's Thomas Ulsrud 8-3 in the morning draw before defeating Jiri Snitil of the Czech Republic 9-3 in the evening. Canada remained tied with Sweden for first place at 5-0 after eight draws of round-robin play.
“I sense the confidence is getting bigger and bigger,” Howard said. “I felt really comfortable out there again tonight. My guys are making everything underneath me.”
The Czech game was tighter than the result might suggest. Howard entered the ninth end with just a two-point lead and hit a nice double takeout to score four points to end it.
Howard and teammates Wayne Middaugh, Brent Laing and Craig Savill shot an impressive 91 per cent in both victories.
The Czechs provided a much stiffer test than the Norwegians. Ulsrud, the 2010 Olympic silver medallist, never got on track and made several uncharacteristic errors.
“We kept putting pressure on him and he was missing,” Howard said. “The recipe for a win.”
A back injury to skip Niklas Edin hasn't hampered Sweden's performance. Sebastian Kraupp has filled in nicely and guided the rink to a 10-8 win over France to keep pace with Canada.
Another medal favourite, Scotland's Tom Brewster, was in third place along with the surprising Liu Rui of China at 4-1. Norway is one of four teams tied at 2-3 while the other rinks are even at 1-4.
After a slow opening weekend, attendance picked up Monday night with an estimated 1,800 spectators on hand at the 9,000-seat venue. The host Swiss team rewarded the fans with a 9-4 win over Germany.
Howard said his team has felt comfortable from the start of the competition.
“I'm always talking about peaks and valleys,” Howard said after his morning win. “Our valleys aren't too bad and that's the good news. We're always up there pretty high. That was a really good game.
“We came out and were really playing well and caught Norway on an off day. Good timing.”
Howard shot 88 per cent for the game, well ahead of Ulsrud at just 56 per cent.
Round-robin play continues through Thursday night and playoff games are scheduled for the weekend. Teams also have an opportunity to earn Olympic qualifying points for their countries at the competition.
Howard has won three world titles over his career — in 1987, 1993 and 2007. Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton beat Scotland 6-5 in last year's world championship in Regina.
Follow us on Twitter: