The Canadian men and Chinese women made easy work of their Danish opponents Friday in Olympic curling.
Men’s favourite Canada beat Denmark 10-3, with the Danes conceding after six ends. The Canadians have won their first five matches with four to go in group play.
Skip Kevin Martin’s team scored five in the fourth and a three-spot in the sixth to put an early end to the Danes’ hopes for an upset. The match was so short that fitness buff Morris and his teammates headed back to the athletes’ village for a 75-minute workout.
“Right now we’re playing one game a day, which is not very gruelling,” Morris said. “So we’re going to go for a workout in the village and stay strong.”
In other men’s matches, Norway moved into sole possession of second place in the standings with a 7-5 win over China, and Germany beat Switzerland 7-6. The United States, which had lost its first four matches, benched skip John Shuster and finally got a victory, beating France 4-3.
So far, Canada has lived up to its reputation as the consensus gold medal favourite.
“All four of us are shooting really well and feel really good out there,” Morris said. “It’s nice to mix a couple games like this with some tighter battles that we had at the start of the week. We’ve just got to make sure we stay in a good position come playoffs.”
In women’s play, reigning world champion China beat Denmark 11-1 in a match also shortened to six ends.
Skip Wang Bingyu, who goes by Betty, scored a five spot in the final end as Denmark tried to mount a comeback to no avail. The Chinese foursome, who has a Canadian coach, received a rousing ovation and the players acknowledged the crowd with smiles and waves.
China won its third in a row after starting the tournament with an extra-end loss to Britain on Wednesday.
Wang said she has turned to singing to help her voice carry to teammates over the cheers and cowbells at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.
“She just goes about what she has to do, whether she remembers to do the right things or not is a different story,” China’s coach Dan Rafael said. “Today was a blowout, yeah we played well, but Denmark didn’t make very many shots. We just look at our performance; we don’t look at the score.”
In the other morning games in women’s play, Britain beat Germany 7-4 after scoring three in the ninth end, and the Americans pulled out their first victory by beating Russia 6-4 on Debbie McCormick’s clutch hit with her final rock.
Rafael still isn’t ready to call his team a favourite. China still must face several hard hitters in the second half of the nine-game round-robin schedule: Canada, Sweden, Britain and Germany.
“All we’ve been getting since last March is, ‘You’re world champions, you’re going to win gold at the Olympics,”’ Rafael said. “It just doesn’t work that way. This is our first Olympics and they’re all in their 20s. We’ve got teams here that have been here two, some even three times.”
The Chinese, made up of a former hockey player and three ex-speed skaters, are improving with each outing.
“The second and third games we won, but only because we were better than the other team, not because we were playing well,” Rafael said. “Today we were definitely sharp.”