Sweden’s Anette Norberg captured her third world title Sunday in Esbjerg, Denmark, defeating Canada’s Amber Holland, 7-5 by stealing the winning two points in a tense, 10th end.
With the gold medal game at the Capital One World Women’s championship tied at five, and Canada having hammer, Holland had a difficult draw to the full four-foot for the win while staring at four Swedish stones in the house.
However, she came up a tad light after having to get by a long guard, falling agonizingly short and handing the victory to Norberg, who is no stranger to stealing gold medals from Canada.
The 44-year-old did just that at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver as well, stealing one in an extra end over Canada’s Cheryl Bernard to claim her second Olympic gold medal. She won previous world titles in 2005 in Paisley, Scotland and in 2006 in Grande Prairie, Alberta, along with an Olympic gold medal in 2006 in Pinerolo, Italy.
“I’m just thrilled about these girls (third Cissi Östlund, second Sara Carlsson and lead Lotta Lennartsson) and how they’ve performed and how strong they are as a team after just a few months together,” said Norberg. “So I’m really, really proud. They (Canada) gave us a very good game and it was just like a final should be. They were struggling a bit and then we were struggling a bit, so a lot of nerves, I think.”
It was the eighth world women’s title for Sweden, but first since Norberg’s pair in 2005-06, behind Canada’s leading 15 crowns, since the championship began in 1979.
It was a game in which the advantage seemed to change with each end. Norberg’s young Karlstad team came out firing first, putting pressure on Canada.
However, they were forced to take one in the first when Norberg failed to hit and roll out. After a blanked second, Norberg stole a single in the third when Holland’s last stone rubbed a rock in the eight-foot, as Sweden looked good early, up 2-0.
But the momentum quickly changed in the fourth, when Holland first made a perfect split to lay two, then eventually drew for three and a 3-2 lead for Canada after Norberg missed a runback.
In the fifth end, Norberg executed a perfect hit and roll to take one, while facing three Canadian counters. Game tied at 3-3. In the sixth, Holland could only count one when she hit and rolled too far with her last, still Canada led 4-3.
Norberg was forced to one in the seventh, when she again failed to hit and roll out. Game tied again at 4.
However, in a critical eighth end, with lots of rocks in play, Canada was held to only one when Holland’s attempt at a double tap back couldn’t quite move her second stone to count. Norberg answered in the ninth by drawing for one, with backing, while looking at four Canadian stones.
Then came the dramatic 10th end, when a few Canadian miscues and some tough luck led to its downfall. Second Tammy Schneider threw one through a narrow hole while attempting to remove a guard. Third Kim Schneider tried two doubles, but just missed on both, rolling another Sweden counter into the house.
Holland tried a triple with her first, but only managed to remove one, as another Sweden stone was moved into the house. Norberg drew the 12-foot with her final stone, leaving Holland a draw to the full four-foot for the win.
But it wasn’t to be, as Canada’s remarkable comeback during the week came up short.
Although Canada held a slight edge in team shooting percentage, 74%-70% and Holland scored a 78%-72% margin over Norberg, it didn’t matter in the end.
“We’re disappointed. We played a pretty good game,” said the 36-year-old Holland, who had won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month in Charlottetown in dramatic fashion, stealing against Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones for the win. “We weren’t as sharp off the start as we wanted to be and didn’t play the 10th end very well. That was a pretty tough shot, based on the ice conditions, but we gave it a valiant effort.
“We felt like we were in control – even after the ninth we were in control. You’ve just got to execute in the 10th. It obviously got more difficult with every miss, but I was glad just to have the shot. And we weren’t far off.
“I think for us silver is a great achievement. It was our first world championship as a team, the first time we’ve been here. We battled really hard to get to that game and just didn’t cap it off. Silver may not be the colour we wanted but it’s still pretty good. We stuck it out together all of the time, which this team has done right from the get-go. So we’re pretty pleased with how we’ve handled ourselves here.
“She (Norberg) figures out a way to win. You can’t take anything away from them. They played some great shots.”
Holland’s team had started out 1-3 and was in danger of not even making the playoffs a week ago. But the Kronau, Saskatchewan foursome responded, winning six of its next seven to finish with a 7-4 mark. They then won a tiebreaker for fourth over Switzerland, beat Denmark’s Lene Nielsen in the Page 3-4 game, then ousted China in Saturday’s semi-final to qualify for today’s gold medal game.
Canada had lost to Sweden, 5-4 in the round robin in a game they could have won. Same story today. Yet Norberg’s crew proved best over the week, finishing first with a 9-2 mark. They’d lost their opener to Norway, then reeled off nine straight wins before losing a meaningless game to the United States to conclude the round robin.
Sweden then defeated China’s Bingyu Wang in the Page 1-2 game to advance to Sunday’s final. Earlier on Sunday, Wang defeated Nielsen, 10-9 to claim the bronze medal.
Next year’s World Women’s Curling Championship is in Lethbridge, Alberta, March 17-25.