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Canada loses world curling semifinal to Scotland

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The Canadian Press
3/28/2010 1:33:44 AM
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SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. -- Canada's Jennifer Jones went from hot to cold in terrific fashion at the Ford Women's World Curling Championship.

The Winnipeg rink that so thoroughly dominated early on at the tournament lost Saturday's semifinal 10-4 to Scotland's Eve Muirhead.

Canada will play for the bronze medal Sunday morning against Sweden's Cecilia Ostlund, before the Scots meet Germany's Andrea Schoepp for gold.

After losing only one game in the round robin to finish first at 10-1, Canada deflated over the course of two playoff losses, including one to Schoepp in the battle of the top two seeds Friday. The Canadian skip was at a loss Saturday to explain her team's sudden drop in performance.

"We just didn't play like we can," a subdued Jones said after the semifinal, which lasted only eight ends. "I don't know. I wish we knew. We got outplayed. It's very disappointing after a great week. I thought we deserved to be in the final and we just didn't come out and play today."

Jones, vice Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin won the world title two years ago in Vernon, B.C., but they lost the bronze medal game last year in Gangneung, South Korea. Jones also skipped a team to fourth at the 2005 world championship in Paisley, Scotland.

Canadian women have won the women's world curling title a record 15 times in its 31-year history. The men have won it 31 times since 1959.

Their country has high expectations of both their hockey and curling teams internationally. Bronze is a colour Canadians don't play well for in either sport.

"Hopefully we'll change that (Sunday)," Jones said. "It's disappointing to play in that game, but obviously we'd like to have a medal. We've played in it before and lost. Hopefully we'll come out and play well in it (Sunday)."

After beating Canada a second time in the tournament Friday, Schoepp suggested Jones's single medal in three previous tries at the world championship weighed on the Canadian skip. Jones flatly denied that.

"Oh no, not at all," Jones said. "I thought we played well. We just had a bad game. That happens."

While Canada's front end of Officer and Askin had better shooting percentages than their Scottish counterparts overall, vice Kelly Wood was a sharper than Overton-Clapham on Saturday.

Muirhead may be only 19, but she far outcurled Jones, who completely lost the draw weight she'd executed so well during the preliminary round. Muirhead, who skipped Scotland to seventh at the Olympics last month, rated 89 per cent in shooting accuracy compared to 59 per cent for Jones.

"The ice was great. We just didn't pick up on the speed and that's our own fault," Jones said.

Scotland scored three in the fifth end, stole a point in the sixth and another three in the seventh to put the game away. Jones shook hands after the eighth end.

Canada had hammer to start the game because of their No. 1 playoff seeding. They scored two points with it in the first but that was as good as it got for the host team in front of a full house of 2,737 at the Credit Union iPlex.

Muirhead skipped the Scottish women to the last three world junior titles. She showed no nerves against the 35-year-old Jones en route to her first senior world final. The teenager left no easy shots for the struggling Canadian skip.

"It's the first time I've beat her," Muirhead said. "She's been a tough team for me the last few years and I finally got a win against here. I suppose it's when it matters out here at the world championship, so I'm really delighted."

So it will be the veteran Schoepp, a 45-year-old skipping Germany at the world championships for a record 17th time, against the youngster Muirhead. Schoepp is playing in her first final since winning the world title 22 years ago in Glasgow, Scotland.

"They are really good team with a very experienced front end," Schoepp said of the Scots. "Eve is quite cool and a very good player. I think it will be a very tough game tomorrow.

"I'd hoped to play Canada, but it didn't work out. I think Canada would have been easier than Eve. I think Eve's team is better."

The bronze medal game is 12 p.m. ET (TSN2) and the final is at 5 p.m. ET (TSN).

Muirhead defeated Sweden 8-3 in Saturday's earlier playoff between the teams ranked third and fourth. Germany and Scotland finished second and third respectively behind Canada in the preliminary round with 8-3 records.

Jones was heavy on a tap with her first stone and wrecked on a guard with her second to leave Muirhead a draw for three in the fifth end.

Jones couldn't find her draw weight in the third and fourth ends, which cost her three points. Her attempt to draw the four foot rings in the fourth bumped her other counter out and she scored just one point instead of two.

A missed run-back takeout by Jones in the third was costly as she had to draw a piece of the button just to score one with her last shot. She was heavy and gave up a steal of two.

Canada had the pressure on Muirhead in the second end, but the skip executed a long raise double takeout to score her one and prevent a steal of two.

Schoepp, the reigning European champion, was sixth at the Olympics last month in Vancouver. She prefers to curl in the world championship where curling is the only sport on the stage. The math teacher says she's had a good feeling about her team since they arrived in Swift Current.

"When we came in on the first evening and saw the trophy, I thought OK, that's my turn now," Schoepp said.

Eve Muirhead (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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Semi-Final: CAN vs. SCO (TSN)

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