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Alberta skip Heather Nedohin reacts to their win over Mantitoba during the semi-final game at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts curling championship in Red Deer, Alberta February 25, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol (Todd Korol/Reuters)
Alberta skip Heather Nedohin reacts to their win over Mantitoba during the semi-final game at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts curling championship in Red Deer, Alberta February 25, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Curling

Nedohin excited to wear the Maple Leaf again Add to ...

Heather Nedohin has done a lot of living since her last appearance at a women's world curling championship 14 years ago.

But the skip of the national women's champion says while career, marriage and children happened in the interim, her will to win never left her.

“You blink and go ‘has it been that long?“’ Nedohin asks. “It sure doesn't feel like it.

“You keep persisting and pursuing and before you know it, years pass and you keep aiming for that goal. I'm so pleased that as a female with career and family aspirations that I still continued my sporting aspirations.”

Nedohin, third Beth Iskiw, second Jessica Mair, lead Laine Peters and alternate Amy Nixon open the Ford World Women's Curling Championship in Lethbridge, Alta., on Saturday versus the United States.

Canadian women may have won a leading 15 world titles, but the country has earned only three in the last 10 years: Jennifer Jones (2008); Kelly Scott (2007); and Colleen Jones (2004).

Nedohin, 36, last appeared in a world championship in 1998 as Heather Godberson when she played third for Cathy Borst. They won the bronze medal in Kamloops, B.C.

She married David Nedohin, who won four Canadian championships and three world titles throwing fourth stones for Randy Ferbey, the following year. They live in Sherwood Park, Alta., and have two daughters.

Nedohin and Iskiw have been teammates for five years. Mair joined them three years ago and Peters has curled with them for two.

The Edmonton foursome has the advantage of virtually no travel compared to the other 11 countries at the world championship. Nedohin has also done some of her best curling in her home province.

In addition to winning the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month in Red Deer, she won a national junior championship in 1996 in Edmonton and the world junior title the same year in Red Deer.

“When you're in Canada you get Canadian ice,” Nedohin points out. “All teams around the world say Canada has the best ice, which to me means the best shotmaking and the best games.

“We don't have to deal with jet lag or a time change. Our food is what we're used to, our accommodation is what we're used to and the fan support is going to be highly for us. Bonus.”

If this year's national championship is any indication, Canada should be interesting to watch and not just because of Nedohin's dramatic body language and facial expressions.

They defeated Jennifer Jones 6-5 in an extra end in the semifinal at the Scotties. A measurement on stones was required to declare the winner.

In a playoff game against Quebec, Peters used her broom and body to muscle a falling Mair away from Nedohin's last shot of the game to keep the second from burning it.

“We say controversy and adversity seem to follow us,” Nedohin says. “If it's entertainment value, you're getting bang for your buck.”

Nedohin also coined a new expletive that now has its own Twitter hashtag. After catching herself blurting out a scatalogical reference on national television during the Scotties, Nedohin opted to exclaim “sugarballs” when she was frustrated.

“I walked away from it going ‘I have kids, I shouldn't have said that. I'll say sugarballs,“’ Nedohin explains. “When I said it, I didn't realize how that would take off too.”

“David said, ‘It's gone viral.’ I said, ‘I don't know what that means.“’

The international curling landscape has changed drastically since the sport made its Olympic debut at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

Countries that weren't even on the curling radar then are investing in the game. China is now a heavyweight in women's curling and Russia is coming on strong. Italy, South Korea and the Czech Republic are also pushing for prominence.

Canadians may expect their curling teams to beat the rest of the world, but it's becoming harder to do so. That will be the same scenario for skip Glenn Howard along with third Wayne Middaugh, second Brent Laing and Craig Savill, who will represent Canada at the world men's championship March 31 to April 8 in Basel, Switzerland.

In Lethbridge, Canada will have their hands full with former world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Bingyu Wang of China, two-time Olympic silver medalist Mirjam Ott of Switzerland and European champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland.

Muirhead was runner-up to Germany's Andrea Schoepp at the 2010 world championship in Swift Current, Sask.

Schoepp would have been again favourite in Lethbridge, but the skip broke her leg and tore ligaments in her knee last Saturday in what's been described as a “training accident” by German media. Schoepp underwent surgery Tuesday. That's caused a reshuffling of the German lineup with the skip yet to be named.

Also, two-time Olympic and four-time world champion Anette Norberg isn't in the field. She was upset in the Swedish championships by Margaretha Sigfridsson.

Allison Pottinger of the U.S. won a world championship in 2003 playing third for Debbie McCormick. Pottinger is skipping the American team for the first time.

Russia's Anna Sidorova is coming off a bronze medal at the world junior championship and was also third in the European championship in December.

Czech Republic's Linda Klimova, Denmark's Lene Nielsen, Italy's Diana Gaspari and South Korea's Ji-Sun Kim complete the field.

Despite her long absence from the world championships, Nedohin says she knows most of these teams because she's either played them or seen them play on the World Curling Tour.

“The beauty of our tour is international teams are competing on it,” she says. “We have been attending those events. Whether we've competed against them, had them playing beside us or watched their games, we've seen them.”

The top four teams at the conclusion of the round robin advance to the Page playoff.

“If we look at the way the team has been playing over the last three months of playoffs and where we've planned to peak this season, I really like what I see in the team as a whole,” Nedohin says.

“Our goal is just to get to playoffs and from there we need to continue playing the way we've been playing.”

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