Martin secures top spot at curling worlds

Edmonton's Kevin Martin has clinched first place with four draws remaining at the world men's curling championship in Moncton, N.B.

Kevin Martin of Edmonton has clinched first place with three draws remaining at the world men's curling championship in Moncton, N.B.

Martin, the defending champion, won twice Wednesday to improve to 9-0 through 14 draws, and secure the top seed in the Page playoffs.

He defeated Finnish skip Kalle Kiiskinen 12-4 in six ends, and John Shuster of the United States 9-6 in nine at the Moncton Coliseum.

"Just consistent play, that is all we have to get done now," Martin said. "We don't have to worry about any outcomes now.

"If anybody beats us, that is fine."

Against Kiiskinen, Martin scored four points in the first end, three in the third and four in the fourth before shaking hands in six.

"Oh, he is on fire," said Norway's Thomas Ulsrud, currently tied for second place in the standings.    "He is really on fire. He is crushing everybody."

Martin has yet to play a full 10 ends in the tournament, winning five games in seven ends or fewer.

"He is like the Tiger Woods of curling on the ice," Ulsrud said. "There is Kevin and then there is nothing."

Shuster provided stiffer opposition for Martin, who overcame the American's steal for two in the first with two in the second and four in the fourth.

"We had to bear down and then the guys did," Martin said. "The next four ends after we gave up the deuce, we played pretty solid."

'I think we belong here'

Shuster bounced back to shade Kiiskinen 6-5 in the evening draw, raising the American's record to 5-4, same as Ulrik Schmidt of Denmark, Andy Kapp of Germany and Ralph Stoeckli of Switzerland.

"I think we belong here and that we're one of the better teams in the world," Shuster said.

Stoeckli dumped Japan's Yusuke Morozumi 7-4 and Jiri Snitil of the Czech Republic 5-2 to make it three straight wins for the Swiss since second Markus Eggler began calling the shots.

"It works better now," Stoeckli said. "It's more fun out there and now I can focus on my last shots.

"We have it in our own hands now to make the playoffs. Or at least a tiebreaker."

Scotland's David Murdoch pounded Dufour 9-1 and later slipped past Ulsrud 6-5 in an extra end.

Ulsrud and Murdoch sit tied for second at 6-3, a full three games behind Martin's Team Canada.

With files from the Canadian Press