This was curling’s equivalent of the kids showing mother how to operate in the kitchen. The astonishing Koreans, representing a nation that has been contesting World Women’s Curling Championship play on just four occasions, stunned Canada on Saturday afternoon at the Enmax Centre by scoring a 10th-end pair for a 4-3 playoff victory that stripped Heather Nedohin’s Edmontonians of their last hope for a global curling title.
In a notably defensive struggle, the Ji-Sun Kim-skipped Koreans lost control of proceedings in the sixth end when Canada stole a single for a 2-1 lead. And the scales remained in Canada’s favour until the final exchange when Nedohin, with her last, rubbed an enemy stone attempting a last-rock corner freeze in the four-foot and left that enemy stone vulnerable to a tap-in for the winning two points.
The win, in the Page-Three four playoff, catapulted the Koreans into the evening semi-final against Switzerland while Canada tumbled into the bronze-medal game to be played Sunday morning (9 a.m. MT) against the semi-final loser.
Kim chose to keep her strategy as simple as possible in the match, thereby exhibiting her respect for the Canadians and their history in the game.
In fact, Nedohin played third for Cathy King in 1998 and settled for a bronze-medal shot, along about the time Kim was looking forward to her 11th birthday. (Continued Below…)
Page Playoff 3 vs 4 Photos
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“We purposely kept our strategy simple,” said Kim, through an interpreter, afterward.
“I thought that in order to beat Team Canada, I couldn’t have a big difference in the score and that I had to keep the game close. That allowed us to be more comfortable with what we do and in playing our shots.”
Obviously, the petite 24-year-old skip was overjoyed with the result. It was the Koreans first victory over Canada in five matches.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “I thought that I would win. I thought about it before the game and I thought in my mind that I would win. And that’s why I was able to fight off the nerves and not be too scared and be afraid of this game.”
Playing with Kim were Seul-Bee Lee, 23, Mi-Sung Shin, 33 and Un-Chi Gim, 22.
After a pair of blanks, Kim was forced to follow Nedohin’s rock to the button in the third end for a go-ahead single. Then she forced Nedohin to take a tying point in the fourth, hitting against two Korean counters.
After a blank fifth, Canada stole in front when Kim didn’t get all of an attempted double-kill with her last rock. The teams then exchanged singles and Kim blanked the ninth, trailing by one.
In the 10th, rocks started to pile up early and the jockeying was on. But Nedohin’s last-rock rub, on a shot intended to make certain Kim couldn’t score more than one with her last rock, changed the entire complexion of the argument. It left Kim with a last-rock tap into the full four-foot for the win and she made no mistake.
Nedohin, who directed Beth Iskiw, Jessica Mair and Laine Peters, was disappointed not only with the result, but the tone of the match.
“It was extremely disappointing. I thought the Koreans were extremely defensive, right from the get-go,” said the vanquished Canadian skip.
“The only entertaining end was the last one and she did make a pistol, I will absolutely say that.
“It was a great shot to win but I wish the game had been more of a game throughout its entirety.
“As a Canadian, as Team Alberta, as Team Nedohin, as Team Canada, we came here to win and we believed it from the strength of the e-mails and the texts and from everyone else. We absolutely believed it! (Continued below…)
“We’re a strong playoff team and we had the strength of a whole nation behind us in that game and we went out to win that one. There was fire in our eyes from the beginning. We went to play that game and I think we played hard.”
Nedohin said she attempted to generate offence on numerous occasions but was unsuccessful.
“We put up centres, we put up corners, I was ready to play the game,” she said.
“Maybe that was a good tactic against us . . . play extremely boring. Congratulations to them, they got a W out of it. I just didn’t think it was an entertaining game whatsoever.
“I was very impressed with the way we held our composure and played a game that was relatively simple and boring. It’s not a great way to play the game but on the whole I’d like to see more rocks in play no matter if it’s the Nationals or the Worlds.
“I mean, watching the semi-final last night between the Swiss and Sweden . . . that was an entertaining game! Lots of rocks, lots of angles, it had everything.
“So simplicity is their (Korea’s) game, it got them the win but, for me, I would rather see more rocks.
“I have to hand it to her, she made a great shot win it. And I have the utmost respect for any player who makes that in front of a pro-Canadian crowd. So congratulations to her.
“But for our team, you know we played well and we went out to win that game and I think, as a nation, Canada would be pleased with the way we played that game.”
And of the assignment in today’s battle for bronze?
“There’s no way we’re losing that bronze game,” she said. “We’re going to have fire in our bellies. You know, this is the same damn thing as ’98. I’m going to win the bronze!”
Waiting in the wings, of course, is Margaretha Sigfridsson’s Swedish team which qualified for Sunday’s championship final (4:30 p.m.) by winning the Page One-Two playoff on Friday night. She’ll play today’s semi-final winner for the gold medal.