It's a long road to Sunday's final at the women's world curling championship for Canada's Heather Nedohin, but she's at least still on it.
Her Edmonton rink beat Allison Pottinger of the U.S. 9-8 in Friday's tiebreaker to claim the fourth and final playoff berth. Canada meets Ji-Sun Kim of South Korea in Saturday's Page playoff between the third and fourth seeds.
“The one thing I took away from all the texts and the e-mails I got last night was, ‘keep believing,“’ Nedohin said. “So we believe.”
Nedohin needs to beat the South Koreans and then win Saturday's semifinal game to get to Sunday's championship. Amber Holland's Canadian team proved last year in Denmark that it can be done.
They came out of the tiebreaker and won their way to the final before falling to Sweden's Anette Norberg.
“I definitely thought of her this morning,” Nedohin said of her predecessor. “They're a team we admire, a great bunch of girls and now if we get a little fuel from what they did last year, absolutely.
“A lot of Canadian girls in front of us have done great jobs and we anticipate and hope to do the same.”
Sweden's Margaretha Sigfriddson downed Switzerland's Mirjam Ott 7-6 in an extra end in Friday's Page playoff between the top two seeds.
Sweden punched their ticket to the final, while the Swiss will play in Saturday's semi-final to meet the winner between Canada and South Korea.
“I think it was one of our best games,” Sigfriddson said. “We had such good energy.”
The teams not in the final will play for the bronze medal Sunday morning.
The Canadians defeated the South Koreans 7-5 in a round-robin game Wednesday. The skips' personalities should make for an entertaining game as the diminutive Kim equals Nedohin in animation, intensity and volume.
The South Koreans play an unorthodox game by North American stands, so Nedohin is prepared to read and react.
“I can't necessarily anticipate what they might do because they're not going to do what I normally think is typical strategy,” Nedohin explained. “However, they play with tons of rocks in play. They freeze to everything, they come around everything.”
The Canadians rebounded from a demoralizing Thursday when they lost twice to teams out of playoff contention. Those losses dropped them from a potential top-two finish to fighting for their playoff lives in a tiebreaker.
Nedohin took responsibility for those losses onto her own shoulders and said she needed to play better.
The skip insisted Friday that wasn't a gambit to lessen the burden on her own team, but that she genuinely felt she'd performed below her standard. Canada's skip delivered in the tiebreaker with a shooting percentage of 95 per cent.
Third Beth Iskiw, lead Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters were also over 90 per cent. Their on-ice communication was lighter and less tense than Thursday. Peters said that wasn't a result of Nedohin siphoning pressure away from her teammates.
“We said to her ‘we win as a team. we lose as a team.’ That was not all on her,” lead Laine Peters said.“ She tried to take that, but no, we didn't let her.”
“You just have one of those moments where you go ‘ok, do you want or don't you want it? And we want it.“’
It helped Canada's state of mind to score four in the second end against the Americans. They went to work defending the lead with their hitting game.
While it's not always easy to defend a large lead early, the U.S. didn't turn the few mistakes Canada did make into a big end for them.
Pottinger put her draw too deep in the rings after Nedohin missed a hit in the eighth. Nedohin drew for two and a 9-5 lead.
In the second end, Pottinger was light on a draw with her first shot and then threw too much weight and completely missed a double takeout. Nedohin drew the eight foot rings for four.
Iskiw had a “good” miss that contributed to the quad. Her shooter rolled into the rings for second shot after ticking a guard.
“When you get a four early, you go ‘whew,“’ Nedohin said. “It's hard to maintain a lead, but four is a nice number early.”
The Americans opened the tournament with four losses before a seven-win run that vaulted them into the tiebreaker. Pottinger, who is originally from Brampton, Ont., found solace in that effort.
“We learned a bunch about ourselves as a team this week,” Pottinger said. “We're really greedy. We want to come back and do better.
“I think that's going to be the thing that keeps us fired up for the next couple of years. I'm proud of the girls. Even today, they played super well. It was not them that let us down this game.”
The Canadians didn't have to play a tiebreaker at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, but they did come through the Page three-four game and the semifinal to win the championship game.
“It's all doable,” Peters said. “This is nothing new for us.”