When your enemy is firing at a 95 per-cent clip, playoff curling is a double-tough proposition.
But it isn’t breaking news for Sweden’s Cecilia Ostlund when Scotland’s Eve Muirhead looms as the opposition. Ostlund has faced Muirhead several times in recent seasons without a lot of success.
“That’s the way we like to play,” said Muirhead, moments after administering an 8-3 thrashing to Sweden in the Ford World women’s curling championship’s Page Three-Four playoff Saturday afternoon at the Credit Union iplex.”Get a couple of points ahead like we did in the third end and then just hit for home.”
Which is exactly how it turned out, as Scotland headed for the semi-final (5 p.m. today against Canada) and Sweden moved to regroup with a shot at a bronze medal in the works Sunday at 10 a.m.
The combatants exchanged singles over the first two ends, then Ostlund wrecked on a first-rock takeout in the third and the 19-year-old Muirhead wound up with an easy draw for a go-ahead pair.
Thereafter, it was a game of draw-and-hit, draw-and-hit and the Scots rolled out the heavy artillery and mowed down every Swedish thrust.
“They made it hard for us,” said the blonde 22-year-old Swedish skip. “I had a really bad game. My team tried to give me support and opportunities but I didn’t make any shots. They made all their shots. They were definitely the better team.”
In fact, Ostlund went so far as to announce Scotland was her pick to win the world title on Sunday.
“Eve is a great curling player and I really think she will be at the top of the tournament,” said Ostlund. “She’s really focused, makes really hard shots. And I think she really wants it.”
Ostlund knows all about the Scottish arsenal. She was mowed down two years ago in the world junior final by a 12-3 margin.
“It’s disappointing to lose but we’re happy to be in the top four, our goal coming in was top-six. Now we really want to go after that bronze medal,” she said.
The jig was up for the Swedes in the fifth end after a blank fourth when Ostlund missed an outside draw to a corner of the four-foot while looking at three Scottish counters and tumbled behind 6-1.
“It was very crucial in the beginning,” analyzed Swedish coach Peja Lindholm, “because you could see there was a lot of adrenaline in Eve’s body and her takeouts were excellent but her draws were heavy. So we tried to put pressure on her but we didn’t stand up in the beginning and they were just better at every facet of the game.
“Sara (third Carlsson) didn’t perform as well as we’ve seen all week and Cissi missed some big shots,” said the three-time world men’s champion skip.
Carlsson was scored at a mediocre 59 per cent at third stones while her opposite number, Kelly Wood, fired 91 per cent and Muirhead scored on 95 per cent of her shots.
“But,” Lindholm added, “this is a great experience for this team. Tomorrow (Sunday), we are going to have to show that we are winners.”