Scotland wins a tight opener

Pre-tournament favourite Eve Muirhead of Scotland narrowly escaped with an 8-7 opening-draw victory over Russia in the Ford World women’s curling championship on Saturday afternoon at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge. Russian skip Anna Sidorova was inches light with her last rock trying to nudge Scotland’s counter off the button in a 10th-end tie situation. If Sidorova had executed the shot perfectly, Muirhead may have had no shot with the hammer.

Eve Muirhead throws a rock during the 2012 Ford World Women's Curling Championship. (Photo: CCA/Michael Burns Photoghraphy)

“We played great and that was our goal for our first game — to play strong,” said Muirhead. “Our other tournaments this year we’ve started out slowly and got better and better. We wanted to come out and play strong.”
 Muirhead roared back from an early two-rock deficit and, after stealing a pair in the eighth end, was up 7-4. But a couple of Scottish miscues in the ninth allowed Sidorova to even the score with a three-count. 
“Probably two or three slack shots cost us,” said Muirhead. “The Russians played great. As soon as we made those mistakes, they capitalized. Giving up three was not ideal. We were lucky to be three up that end. “It feels great to beat a good team. We did well at the Europeans . . . so you have a huge target on your back.” Teams from Sweden, the Czech Republic and 
Germany also won their openers.
 There’s no question the 6-3 Germany win over Denmark’s Lene Nielsen was a relief for Canadian-born German skip Melanie Robillard, a last-minute replacement for injured veteran Andrea Schoepp.
 “That’s an understatement,” said Robillard. “I’m really happy it’s over and I’m really happy we won. It’s been pretty stressful. I’m trying to keep calm but I was actually really nervous when I started that game.
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“The fact I don’t have to throw last rocks helps a lot.” Regular third Imogen Lehmann handled that department and scored 79 per cent on her shots. Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson, with Maria Prytz tossing last rocks, rolled away from Italy’s Diana Gaspari 9-3, breaking up a tight battle with three in the seventh end and a crushing four in the ninth when Prytz executed a perfect raise takeout. “I think we had control of the whole game,” said Sigfridsson. “We had a few stones where we missed the ice a little bit. But Maria was very sharp today.” Prytz scored 87 per cent on last rocks. The Czechs, meanwhile, stunned Ji-Sun Kim of Korea 6-3. Skipping in her first World event, the fourth for the Czech Republic, 23-year-old Linda Klimova gave an 84-per-cent performance. (Continued below…) httpvh:// “We are excited,” said the Czech student. “It was our first match and I think my team did a good job. “The ice is a little faster here than we’re used to. But we were training a couple of days ago in Moncton so we had some opportunities to become accustomed to the faster ice.” In a 7 p.m. MT draw today, Canada’s Heather Nedohin of Edmonton opens against Allison Pottinger of the U.S. while 2009 world champion Bingyu Wang of China faces Mirjam Ott of Switzerland, Sweden plays Korea and Italy goes against the Czechs.