SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Maybe the men's Olympic curling tournament won't be such a procession for Canada, after all.
After becoming the first team in Canada's storied curling history to go through Olympic trials unbeaten, Brad Jacobs' rink was justifiably regarded as the overwhelming gold-medal favorite for the Sochi Games.
It's not turning out that way.
On a sobering opening day of action at the Ice Cube Curling Center, the Canadians only scraped past unheralded Germany 11-8 and followed that with a surprise 5-4 loss to Switzerland in the evening session.
"We didn't curl well at all and got what we deserved," Canada player Ryan Harnden said. "We're not sharp, not in a rhythm, not making our shots."
The Canadians' struggles have given renewed hope to their rivals — not least Sweden, which tops the standings with a 2-for-2 record.
"I'm a little bit surprised," Sweden player Fredrik Lindberg said. "But they have never been abroad to play a championship and that's something to consider. And they are expected to win and obviously it has to be a big pressure on them.
"If they get a tough start, maybe it starts getting to them."
And it doesn't get any easier for Canada — its only match on Tuesday is against Sweden in a repeat of the 2013 world championship final. The Swedes won that in Victoria, Canada, in April.
"We can put a lot more pressure on them," Lindberg said.
Sweden's two wins have come against two of its fiercest rivals in Europe. A tense 7-5 win over Switzerland — the reigning European champion — was followed by an 8-4 victory against Britain.
The Ice Cube was one of the hottest tickets in Sochi on Monday. Bagpipers led the teams on for each session and there was a regal feel to proceedings, with Prince Hakan of Norway, Princess Anne of Britain and Prince Albert of Monaco watching from the stands.