Canada will send a battle-hardened team to Japan in quest of our country’s first world women’s curling championship since 2008.
The Jennifer Jones team from Winnipeg — third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer, lead Dawn McEwen, alternate Jennifer Clark-Rouire, team coach Wendy Morgan, national coach Elaine Dagg-Jackson — will open play Saturday in the 2015 ZEN-NOH World Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Ford of Canada, at the 2,321-seat Tsukisamu Gymnasium against Finland’s Sanna Puustinen at 7 p.m. Sapporo time (6 a.m. ET), the first of its 11 round-robin games.
The Jones team is not only the reigning Olympic gold-medallist, having prevailed in February 2014 in Sochi, Russia, Jones, Officer and McEwen also captured Canada’s most recent world women’s title, in 2008 at Vernon, B.C.
Canadian teams have finished on the medal podium at the past five world women’s championships, with Ottawa’s Rachel Homan accounting for the most recent two medals — bronze at Riga, Latvia, in 2013 and silver (losing to Switzerland’s Binia Feltscher) at the 2014 Ford Worlds in Saint John, N.B.
The Swiss will have a different team in Sapporo, as Alina Pätz will chase back-to-back gold for her country.
But Scotland’s Eve Muirhead — the 2014 Olympic bronze-medallist and 2013 world champ — will also be a title contender in Sapporo, as will Russia’s Anna Sidorova, the 2014 world bronze-medallist who recently claimed gold at the Winter Universiade in Spain, and Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson, Olympic silver-medallist and a four-time world championship silver-medallist.
The field is rounded out by China’s Liu Sijia, Denmark’s Lene Neilsen, Germany’s Daniela Driendl, the host Japanese team skipped by Ayumi Ogasawara, Norway’s Kristin Moen Skaslien and Aileen Sormunen of the United States.
Round-robin play will continue until Thursday, with the top four teams advancing to the Page playoffs, which see the first-and-second place teams playing for a berth in the March 22 gold-medal game (4 a.m. ET). The loser of the one-two game drops to the semifinal (March 21, 4 a.m. ET) against the winner of the Page three-four game. The semifinal loser and Page three-four loser will play for the bronze medal on March 21 at 10 p.m. ET.
TSN, the official broadcast partner of the Canadian Curling Association, will provide live coverage of Canada’s round-robin games, in addition to all playoff games.
Here is Canada’s round-robin schedule, with the broadcast plans (all times ET; all games live on TSN network unless otherwise noted):
March 14 — vs. Finland (Sanna Puustinen), 6 a.m.
March 15 — vs. Scotland (Eve Muirhead), 1 a.m. (TSN2)
March 15 — vs. Sweden (Margaretha Sigfridsson), 6 a.m.
March 15 — vs. China (Sijia Liu), 8 p.m.
March 16 — vs. Russia (Anna Sidorova), 6 a.m.
March 17 — vs. U.S.A. (Aileen Sormunen), 1 a.m.
March 17 — vs. Denmark (Lene Neilsen), 6 a.m.
March 17 — vs. Norway (Kristin Moen Skaslien), 8 p.m. (TSN1/4)
March 18 — vs. Switzerland (Alina Pätz), 6 a.m.
March 18 — vs. Germany (Daniela Driendl), 8 p.m. (TSN1)
March 19 — vs. Japan (Ayumi Ogasawara), 1 a.m.
Canada has won a leading 15 gold medals and 31 medals in total at the World Women’s since 1979, followed by Sweden with eight gold and 23 medals in total.
Click here for the list of teams competing in Sapporo.
Click here for the full schedule.