Brad Gushue had to wait more than a decade to compete on the Olympic stage again, and he is determined to enjoy every moment, despite the immense pressure on Canadian curlers to bring home the gold at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Gushue became an Olympic champion at 25 when he led Canada's men's curling team to gold in Turin in 2006, and he resumed that role for these Games, rolling back the years and making the most of his experience.
"I'm trying to enjoy it, it has taken me 16 years to get back to the Olympics," said the 41-year-old after Canada held off hosts China, 10-8, at the National Aquatics Centre on Tuesday.
Canada failed to make the men's curling podium in 2018, but the curling nation can afford to take a collective breath for now as Gushue's team gathers momentum with three wins on the trot.
"I'm just trying to enjoy the experience and take a bit of pressure off the event. Obviously, we all feel the pressure and we want to play well, but you want to enjoy it too," Gushue said.
Canada will take on the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in Session 10 of play Tuesday knowing that a win would guarantee their place in the final four.
Reigning champions the United States also moved within reach of a semifinal spot after topping Switzerland, 7-4, while already-qualified Sweden continued their unbeaten run and saw off Denmark, 8-3, to make it seven wins in seven games.
Hamilton and Shuster were both part of the team that upset Niklas Edin's Sweden in the final during the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, but Hamilton believes the 2018 runners-up are favorites for gold this time.
"We were fortunate to win in 2018 ... I hope we don't run into them early in the playoffs," Hamilton said.
In the women's competition later on Tuesday, world champions Switzerland survived a scare against the United States to register a narrow 9-6 win after scoring a crucial four points in the ninth end before adding another to seal the result.
Reigning champions Sweden delivered a strong performance against Denmark to win 9-3, and Britain claimed a much-needed 10-4 win over Japan to boost their playoff chances, while the ROC beat China 11-5 for their first victory at these Games.
Teams play nine matches in the preliminary round, with the top four reaching the semifinals.