Four years after marking his spot in the history books as the first American skip to lead his team to an Olympic medal, Pete Fenson's return to Italy wasn't quite as celebrated when he fell to Canada 6-3 in his first match.
The match was closer than it might appear, however, with the Canadians breaking a 3-3 tie with two in the eighth and stealing one in the ninth to close it out.
"We played pretty good and they did as well, which was to be expected," said Fenson. "We didn't quite get the rocks in the right spots a few times and had a little trouble adjusting to the ice as well."
This marked Fenson's sixth appearance at the World meet, the last four as skip.
Shawn Rojeski and Joe Polo have been members of the past two rinks, with Tyler George supplanting John Shuster as lead this year. Rojeski and Shuster also played on the 2003 unit with Eric Fenson rounding out that group.
Ten more matches will follow in the round robin starting today against Switzerland and Denmark.
The top four after the round robin advance to the Page playoffs.
"We have a couple of little things to adjust but everyone is throwing well," Fenson added. "We played well and if we play this well and hit better, we feel good about our chances."
The Americans pressured Canada in the first end, stealing one.
The Kevin Koe rink matched that in the second only to see Fenson retake the lead with one in the fourth.
Canada earned the game's first deuce in the fifth after capitalizing on a few U.S. misses as Koe drew to the button to pull ahead 3-2.
The Americans tried in earnest to match the pair in the seventh but had to settle for one as Canada drew around the center guard on its final stone, putting it partially on the button.
Fenson put his last stone a trifle closer to gain one.
But Canada set up another deuce in the eighth to take the lead and stole one in the ninth to lead 6-3 when Fenson failed to convert an angle raise with his last rock.
Trailing by three, the U.S. couldn't get a big end set up in the 10th and took the loss.
"To get the first one under our belts, I feel a bit pleased," said Koe. "It's nice to get off to a good start, especially with this being our first Worlds. The whole team played good."
Set in the northeast corner of Italy near the Austrian border, Cortina is a ski resort with around 7,000 residents.
Curling in the city dates back to the 1950s when the sport was played on frozen lakes mostly for entertainment for hotel guests.
The U.S.-Switzerland match will begin at 7 a.m. Bemidji time. Fenson meets the Danes at noon today Bemidji time.
Germany took the early lead with two victories Saturday. Canada, Denmark, France and Scotland went 1-1.
Germany 2-0, Canada, Denmark, France, Scotland 1-0, China, Italy 1-1, Switzerland, USA, Norway, Sweden 0-1, Japan 0-2
France 5, Sweden 1
Germany 5, China 4
Italy 7, Japan 6
Scotland 5, Norway 4
China 7, Italy 6
Canada 6, USA 3
Denmark 9, Switzerland 3
Germany 9, Japan 3