Canada steals its way to the top

It’s Oh Canada . . . already! Five draws into the 2012 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship and Heather Nedohin’s Canucks already are out front in the global pack at the Enmax Centre with the only unbeaten record in the tournament. Canada’s team won its third straight Sunday night when Swiss skip Mirjam Ott overthrew a last-rock tap on a Nedohin stone half-hidden behind a centre guard which left Canada with a 6-5 win. The Swiss stone nicked the target and rolled on through the rings while the Canadian rock wasn’t erased from the scoring area.

Heather Nedohin calls to her teammates during the 2012 Ford World Women's Curling Championship. (Photo: CCA/Michael Burns Photography)

“It’s not nice when you steal like that,” said Nedohin later. “I like seeing the skip make her last rock. You know, as they say, you have to put it in its place and they’ve got to make it. I’m surprised she missed in the sense of how well they played to that point. And I was surprised she played as much weight as she did.” Canada opened with a deuce and still led by two at the half but the Swiss tied it in the sixth and stole a go-ahead point in the seventh. Nedohin was forced to take a tying point in the eighth and Ott succeeded in blanking the ninth to retain the hammer. But she misfired on it. “It was a tight game, but it wasn’t necessarily either one of our teams’ best games,” said Nedohin. “We’ll take it, but it wasn’t pretty.” (Continued Below…) Draw 5 Photos
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Switzerland outpointed Canada 85-78 in shooting percentages and Ott outpointed Nedohin 79-71, but most observers will scoff at the figures and say that statistics are for losers. In this case, they’d be correct. Canada plays the Czechs and Denmark today. “I’d like to play a little more consistently throughout the entire game,” said Nedohin of future assignments. “This was our first evening draw. I think I learned a lot about the ice and that’s what I’m going to take away from this.” No less than six teams moved into position one game behind the Canadians with 2-and-1 records. They included the Swiss, Scotland’s Eve Muirhead, who rallied for an 8-6 conquest of Denmark’s Lene Nielsen (1-2) on the nightshift, Germany’s Melanie Robillard who suffered her first loss — 6-4 to Russia (1-2), along with Sweden, the Czech Republic and Korea. Muirhead scored three against the Danes in the first end. Then her Scots fell asleep, allowed their foes to outscore them 6-1 over the next seven panels before exploding for four in the ninth panel to close it out. Where did that quad come from? “Oh God knows,” said Muirhead. “It just seemed to appear. We played some good shots to get rolls behind the centre guard and then it just happened. For them, there were too many stones around lying around. I played a good shot with my first — it was about time. “Coming from behind was good for us. It will give the whole team some confidence.” In one other late match, 2009 champion Bingyu Wang of China won her first in three starts, doubling up on winless U.S.A. 8-4. Nedohin hung a 7-5 defeat on Wang in the afternoon. It was a game that Nedohin’s crew of Laine Peters, Jessica Mair and Beth Iskiw controlled most of the way, but every time the Canucks looked like putting the affair away China bounced back with a tidy deuce. In the end, Nedohin had a one-point lead and the hammer going home. She made no mistake, hitting and sticking on shot stone for the duke. “It’s challenging out there when you are on a sheet for the first time with a new set of rocks and a new opponent and you are looking at the way you throw and they throw,” said the Canadian skip. The Edmonton crew seems to thrive on the home-ice advantage. “This so-called pressure, if that’s the case, we like it,” said Nedohin. “I think it raises the intensity for all of us. Execution-wise we are doing well as a team, If someone doesn’t (make a shot), someone else steps up. It’s about accountability.” Elsewhere on the mid-day draw, Ott handed Allison Pottinger’s Yanks an 11-7 defeat. Ott made two great shots for deuces in the early stages and controlled the flow of the contest. “We still can improve a little bit,” said the Swiss skip, “but we’re happy with where we are. We really have a lot of experience, so I hope by the end of the week that will help us.” Sweden, meanwhile, bounced back from a devastating loss Saturday in which they gave up a three-spot to the Koreans in the final end to lose. This time, it was a big 10-5, nine-end decision over the Czechs who were unbeaten going in. “We had a tough loss yesterday, an unnecessary loss, so it felt good to win this game,” said skip Margaretha Sigfridsson who throws lead stones. “Yesterday, for the last five ends, we weren’t really on the edge, maybe a little bit of low energy, and today we worked better on that front.” In the other afternoon contest, the surprising Koreans continue to impress, stealing a 6-5 win over Diana Gaspari’s winless Italians in a game that looked for a time as though it was going Italy’s way. Instead, Korea’s Ji-Sun Kim scored with hammer in the ninth to tie and stole one in final end to win 6-5. Germany moved alongside the Czechs as two-game winners in the morning. The makeshift team skipped by New Brunswick-born Robillard with Imogen Lehmann throwing the last rocks persevered for a 7-6 extra-end victory over Muirhead. In one other game, Denmark’s Nielsen defeated Anna Sidorova of Russia 7-5. Germany stole in front 2-0 in the fourth end against Scotland and then fended off the favoured Muirhead crew over the remainder. Scotland recorded deuces three times to square the account but Lehmann executed a cold, in-turn come-around draw to the four-foot in overtime to seal the decision. “There is no secret,” said Robillard afterward. “We had pretty good control of it all game and it was pretty steady. Imogen played amazing, she had good draw weight and she could bail us out when we needed it. “I was pretty confident on the last draw. She’d had pretty good draw weight all game. And she’s a pretty calm person.” Lehmann was Robillard’s replacement following the Germans’ 2010 world championship with veteran Andrea Schoepp skipping. And the latter veteran was scheduled to skip the team this week until breaking her leg in a ski accident a week ago. Robillard was quickly conscripted as a replacement but never has skipped previously. “I’m sure she’s really proud,” Robillard said of Schoepp. “I’ve talked to her. It’s new for me, learning how the girls release it and throw, so I’m having chats with her on a daily basis to see how she can help me. I’m still really new at this.” Robillard said she’d spoken to Lehmann twice prior to the trip to Lethbridge. “She’s a really calm person and that helps because I’m a bit more on the hyper side,” said Robillard. “She calms me down and it works really well.” Muirhead termed it “one of those games that could have gone either way at the end”. “We gave them a couple of cheap twos but we were able to generate them back,” she said. “In the end, we had our chances in the extra end but she played a cold draw to the four-foot. We left her with a tough shot and she made it perfectly and deserved to win. “We just have to forget about that, and put it behind us because we’ve got more tough games ahead. You can’t win them all and I think they (Germany) have done great without Andrea so far.” (Continued below…) httpvh:// Denmark stole a vital point against the Russians in the fifth end for a 4-2 edge and cruised from there. “It was important to us to try to play better than in our first game, which was a bad game,” said Nielsen, whose team bowed 6-3 to Germany in its opener on Saturday. “We wanted to get a feel for the draw weight and I think the girls did a good job. We still have to make some changes in our technique but I think we’re getting better.” Expectations for the Danes are high based on last year’s rookie fourth-place performance in front of the home fans at Esbjerg. “I know, I know,” she said. “They’re expecting big things back home as well so it’s a kind of pressure, but we’re still new on the world stage and we’ll keep learning and it’s a great experience being here.”