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Ford World Women’s gets underway Saturday in Lethbridge

The Ford World Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Richardson, gets underway Saturday at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge.

It’s the 12th time that Canada has hosted the World Women’s Championship since it began in 1979 in Perth, Scotland. The last time the Ford World Women’s was held in Alberta was in 2006 in Grande Prairie, when won by Sweden’s Anette Norberg.

Competing teams set for the 2012 Ford World Women's Curling Championship in Lethbridge (Photo Michael Burns)

The Ford Motor Company of Canada began its involvement as title sponsor of the World Championships in 1995 in Brandon, Manitoba. This marks its 18th year of title sponsorship.

Twelve countries will be represented in the nine-day competition, with the top four teams qualifying for the playoffs starting Friday, March 23 after the conclusion of the round robin. The first and second place teams face off in the Page 1-2 game, with the winner advancing to the gold medal final on Sunday, while the loser goes to the semi-final Saturday evening.

The third and fourth place teams meet in the Page 3-4 game, with the winner advancing to the semi-final, while the loser goes to the bronze medal game Sunday morning to play the semi-final loser. The Ford World Women’s gold medal final is slated for Sunday, March 25 at 4:30 pm MT/6:30 pm ET.

TSN (RDS in Quebec) will carry all Team Canada games throughout the round robin, followed by the playoffs.

World Curling TV (WCTV), the television arm of the World Curling Federation, will provide extensive live and video-on-demand coverage to broadcasters outside of Canada. WCF Broadcast Partners for the 2012 World Championships include Eurosport (Eurosport, Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Player) in Europe, CCTV-5 in China, Universal Sports Network in the USA and SporTV in Brazil.

Canada will be represented by the reigning Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion Heather Nedohin of Edmonton and her Saville Sports Centre team of third Beth Iskiw, second Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters. The 36-year-old Nedohin, a former world junior champion who also won the 1998 Scotties and a bronze medal at the 1998 Ford Worlds as third for Cathy King, captured the Scotties for a second time last month in Red Deer, Alberta, defeating former world champion Kelly Scott of British Columbia in the final. Canada’s first game is Saturday evening at 7:00 pm MT/9:00 pm ET against the United States.

Scotland will be directed by 21-year-old Eve Muirhead of Dunkeld, already a four-time world junior champion and reigning European champion. Muirhead also earned a silver medal at the 2010 Ford World Women’s in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, losing the final to Germany’s Andrea Schöpp of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Schöpp, a seven-time European champion, two-time (1988, 2010) world champion and gold medallist at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, when curling was a demonstration sport, was supposed to represent Germany again this year but fractured her tibia bone and ruptured knee ligaments last Saturday in a training accident and thus will not be able to compete in the Ford World Women’s. The 47-year-old was to have made a record 19th appearance at the Worlds, all as skip. Norway’s Dordi Nordby has appeared 18 times, but only 16 as skip.

In her place, although the team throwing order and positions have not yet been confirmed, will be Canadian-born Melanie Robillard, who played third for Schöpp when winning gold at the 2010 Ford World Women’s in Swift Current.

China will be skipped, as usual, by Bingyu Wang of Harbin, the 2009 world champion, who also earned a silver medal at the 2008 Worlds and bronze medals at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and 2011 Worlds.

Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott of Davos, a two-time Olympic silver medallist and former European champion will also compete, as will Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson of Skellefteå, the 2010 European champion and 2011 runner-up, who throws lead rocks for her team.

Completing the field are Czech Republic’s Linda Klimova of Prague, Denmark’s Lene Nielsen of Hvidovre, Italy’s Diana Gaspari of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Korea’s Ji-Sun Kim of Euijeongbu City, Russia’s Anna Sidorova of Moscow and United States’ Allison Pottinger of St. Paul, Minnesota, who won a gold medal at the 2003 Ford Worlds in Winnipeg, as third for Debbie McCormick, but makes her debut as a skip in her 11th appearance.

The World Women’s began in 1979 in Perth, Scotland and was contested separately from the men’s championship through 1988. During that time, the women’s event was held twice in Canada, in 1983 in Moose Jaw and 1986 in Kelowna.

In 1989, both championships were combined for the first time in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and remained so through 2004. During that time, Canada first hosted the joint championships in 1991 in Winnipeg, followed by five Ford World Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships (Brandon, 1995; Hamilton, 1996; Kamloops, 1998; Saint John, 1999 and Winnipeg, 2003).

Beginning in 2005, the men’s and women’s world championships were separated once again. Canada has since alternately staged a men’s and women’s event each year. The Ford World Men’s has been held in Victoria (2005), Edmonton (2007), Moncton (2009) and Regina (2011) while the Ford World Women’s has been staged in Grande Prairie (2006), Vernon, British Columbia (2008) and Swift Current (2010).

Canada has won a leading 15 gold medals at the World Women’s since 1979, followed by Sweden with eight. Canada’s last victory came in 2008 in Vernon when Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones defeated China’s Bingyu Wang in the final. Last year in Esbjerg, Denmark, Sweden’s Anette Norberg defeated Canada’s Amber Holland in the gold medal game.

The Ford World Women’s Curling Championship will also earn Olympic qualifying points for the competing countries. Based on cumulative points earned for their finishes at the 2012 and 2013 women’s championships, the top seven countries (host Russia receives an automatic berth), plus two others to be decided at a pre-Olympic qualifying event, will compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

“Ford is proud to be the sponsor of the world’s premier women’s curling event,” said Graeme Whickman, Vice President, Marketing, Ford Motor Company of Canada. “We want to offer good luck to the athletes and thank the City of Lethbridge and all of the volunteers who will make this event such a great success. Ford is honoured and dedicated to giving back to communities around the world while providing drivers with safe, innovative, and reliable vehicles.”

The Opening Ceremonies begin at 12 Noon on Saturday, March 17 with the first draw at 2:00 pm MT. Attached are the official draw and roster.

Draw results and other event information are available on the Canadian Curling Association (www.curling.ca) and World Curling Federation (www.worldcurling.org) websites.

2012 FORD WORLD WOMEN’S ROSTER

Teams listed in order of skip, third, second, lead, alternate and coach (es), unless otherwise noted

Canada – Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton
Heather Nedohin, Beth Iskiw, Jessica Mair, Laine Peters, Amy Nixon, Darryl Horne

China – Harbin Curling Club, Harbin
Bingyu (Betty) Wang, Qingshuang Yue, Jinli Liu, Yan Zhou, Yue Sun, Christine Hamblin &
Wei Zhang

Czech Republic – CC Zbraslav, Prague
Linda Klimova, Kamila Mosova, Lenka Cernovska, Katerina Urbanova, Sara Jahodova, Vladimir Cernovsky

Denmark – Hvidovre Curling Club, Hvidovre
Lene Nielsen, Helle Simonsen, Jeanne Ellegaard, Maria Poulsen, Mette de Neergaard,
Lasse Lavrsen

*Germany – SC Riessersee, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Andrea Schöpp (injured, unable to compete), Imogen Oona Lehmann, Corinna Scholz, Stella Heiss, Monika Wagner, Melanie Robillard (added to replace Andrea Schöpp), Martin Beiser

*Throwing order of team and positions not yet confirmed.

Italy – Dolomiti CC, Cortina d’Ampezzo
Diana Gaspari, Giorgia Apollonio, Chiara Olivieri, Claudia Alvera, Veronica Gerbi, Brian Gray & Dan Rafael

Korea – Gyeonggido Curling Club, Euijeongbu City, Gyeonggido Province
Ji-Sun Kim, Seul-Bee Lee, Un-Chi Gim, Hyun-Jung Lee, Mi-Sung Shin, Min-Suk Choi

Russia – CC Moskvitch, Moscow
Anna Sidorova, Liudmila Privivkova, Margarita Fomina, Ekaterina Galkina, Nkeiruka Ezekh,
Olga Andrianova

Scotland – Dunkeld Curling Club, Dunkeld
Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Claire Hamilton, Kelly Wood, Gordon Muirhead

Sweden – Skellefteå CK, Skellefteå
Maria Prytz (fourth), Christina Bertrup (third), Maria Wennerström (second),
Margaretha Sigfridsson (skip and lead rocks), Sabina Kraupp, Fredrik Hallström

Switzerland – CC Davos, Davos
Mirjam Ott, Carmen Schäfer, Carmen Küng, Janine Greiner, Alina Pätz, Thomas Lips

USA – St. Paul Curling Club, St. Paul, Minnesota
Allison Pottinger, Nicole Joraanstad, Natalie Nicholson, Tabitha Peterson,
Cassandra (Cassie) Potter, Derek Brown