Las Vegas has been a lesson in adaptation for Brad Gushue's curling team.
Gushue and teammates seemed to hit their stride Tuesday at the men's world curling championships with a pair of wins — a 7-6 extra-end victory over South Korea followed by a quicker 9-2 win over Japan.
Canada and Scotland's Bruce Mouat were tied at 5-1 behind Olympic silver medallist Niklas Edin of Sweden and Norway's Steffen Walstad both at 6-1.
The Canadian skip felt he had a better handle on the Orleans Arena ice Tuesday, but had also accepted the off-ice environment is different than any other major curling championship.
The 361 Men's World Curling Championship is the most southerly world championship with desert temperatures ranging from a high of 25 to 30 C daily.
Gushue prefers more separation between the event and the team's down time between draws, so he and his crew get a mental break from curling.
The Orleans hotel is a short, hot stroll to the Orleans Arena. Curlers, fans, officials and volunteers are together all the time at the hotel, rink and pool.
"Outside of moving out, there's not a whole lot we can do from that perspective," Gushue said. "Really accepting is a big part of it. Taking our moments and if we can get with our family and stay to ourselves, let's try and do that as much as possible.
"We've got to accept the environment that we're in for this week. Embrace it as opposed to push up against it.
"That's a challenge because it's extremely different from what we normally do at an event like this."
Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker from St. John's, N.L., are the defending champions having gone unbeaten to take the world title last year in Edmonton.
The format is different this year with the top six teams at the conclusion of the preliminary round Friday making the playoffs, instead of the previous top four.
The top two gets byes to Saturday's semifinals, while teams three to six square off in quarterfinals earlier that day.
Russia's Alexey Timofeev was 4-2 ahead of Switzerland's Marc Pfister at 3-3.
South Korea's ChangMin Kim and China's Dejia Zou were both 3-4, Italy's Joe Retornaz 2-4 and Japan's Go Aoki dropped to 2-5.
Jaap Van Dorp of the Netherlands and Greg Persinger of the Netherlands were tied 1-5 and Germany's Alexander Baumann was 1-6.
Japan, skipped by 18-year-old Go Aoki, was outmatched by the Canadians and shook hands after giving up a steal of two in the sixth.
Gushue had to draw the four-foot rings for the extra-end win against South Korea in the morning draw.
Canada didn't have last-rock advantage in the first end for the first time in the tournament, but stole three points over the first four ends.
"We talked about a few of the things last night, 'are we doing everything we can to adapt?'" Gallant said. "I think we did a little better job today just adapting.
"The ice is starting to get a little more similar each game now. We had a short break between games today, but left the rink area, went back to the hotel, just to get away.
"We've been to enough of these events that no two are the same. This one is probably more different than most.
"I think now that we're in the middle of the event, we're starting to get used to everything and get into a bit of a flow."
Canada takes on Norway on Wednesday morning and the Netherlands in the night draw.