Canada loses, playoff race tightens in women's curling

The Canadian Press

3/22/2012 3:37:20 PM

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- The race for playoffs at the women's world curling championship was still wide open in the final stage of the preliminary round Thursday.

The frontrunners, including Canada's Heather Nedohin, lost in the morning draw and Switzerland's Mirjam Ott won to create a four-way tie for first at 7-3.

Canada was upset 6-5 by Italy's Diana Gaspari and had a game remaining against Scotland in the final draw.

"I like that we control our own destiny," Nedohin said. "I think we are in a decent position."

South Korea's Ji-Sun Kim and Sweden's Margaretha Sigfriddson were also 7-3 alongside Canada and Switzerland.

The top four teams at the end of round-robin play Thursday advance to the Page playoff with ties for fourth solved by tiebreaker games Friday. The teams with seven wins were assured of at least a tiebreaker game.

In the Page playoff, the top two seeds meet with the winner advancing to Sunday's final. The loser drops to the semifinal to meet the victor between the third and fourth seeds.

If Canada finishes in the top four, their Page playoff game will be Friday evening and the other on Saturday afternoon prior to the semifinal at night.

South Korea fell 6-5 to Switzerland and Sweden lost 6-5 in an extra end to the Allison Pottinger of the U.S.

The Americans won their sixth in a row after opening 0-4. Denmark's Lene Nielson was also still in the running at 5-4. Teams with five losses were eliminated from contention.

Italy, 3-7, was well out of the running, but spoiled Canada's plans of wrapping up a playoff berth early Thursday.

The Canadians played a mistake-filled eighth end and Nedohin faced three Italian stones with her final shot. She drew the four-foot rings to limit the damage to a steal of one for Italy and fell behind a point.

"I don't think we had our 'A' game," Nedohin admitted. "I would definitely say there's more in our Canadian team to show up to play, but I'm going to say they did play very well."

Nedohin's team out of the Saville Curling Centre in Edmonton has been a second-half team throughout the round robin.

The skip, third Beth Iskiw, second Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters habitually scored more points and played stronger defence in the back half of their games.

"Today was probably the only game we didn't do that," Iskiw observed. "We need to go back to our other games and see what we did right at the end of the game when we really came through.

"These teams are all really good so we need to play a full, strong 10 ends for sure. You can't have any hills and valleys."