And then there were three.
Defending champion Heather Nedohin eliminated British Columbia’s Kelly Scott from contention on Saturday in the three-four game at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, scoring a lopsided 8-4 victory to move onto Sunday’s semi-final.
That leaves only Nedohin’s Team Canada rink, Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones and Ontario’s Rachel Homan left in the running for the 2013 title.
Jones and Homan will play in the one-two game on Saturday night, with the winner advancing directly to Sunday’s final and the loser dropped into the morning semi-final against Nedohin.
B.C. will then face the loser of that game for bronze.
“I thought our team played on fire right from the start,” Nedohin said. “I was really pleased with the way we executed from the first end on.”
Canada had dropped four of its final five round robin games after a 6-0 start entering the Scotties opening playoff game, but that rust wasn’t evident at all in Saturday’s matchup, as they raced out to an early lead and stifled an attempted comeback by putting more points on the board.
Nedohin stole singles in the first, third and fourth ends to pull out to 3-0 right away, then held Scott to just a single point with the hammer in the fifth.
Draw weight, in particular, was an issue for Scott, who came up short on her final stone in the fourth and needed plenty of help from her sweepers to get one with the hammer in the following end.
“We were completely just fooled there the first few ends,” Scott said. “We thought it would curl and it ran straight and vice versa.”
“I thought the ice conditions were decent,” Nedohin said. “Unfortunately they didn’t come out perfect for them at times.”
Canada took over the game for good in the sixth end, as after Scott missed a double takeout attempt, Nedohin used her last rock to nudge a guard into the house with a split that left them sitting three for a 6-1 lead.
B.C. third Jeanna Schraeder and Scott were both uncharacteristically off throughout the game, as they scored just above 70 per cent after curling at 80 and 76 per cent, respectively, throughout the week.
For Nedohin, the game was a huge rebound after several duds, including a shocking 10-8 loss against the Territories on Friday afternoon.
Despite their struggles of late, Team Canada – then playing as Alberta – pulled off the rare feat in winning the championship from the three-four game a year ago and is now suddenly a threat to do so again.
“This is the way Team Nedohin has played throughout the whole year,” Nedohin said. “We are battlers. We play strong. And you know what, we handle adversity really well.
“I think that’s a strength within our team; we can rebound after a loss and we learn from our mistakes. I can’t emphasize that more: That’s how we play.”
Scott, meanwhile, said her Kelowna rink intended to fight hard for the bronze, in particular for new teammate (and tournament rookie) Sarah Wazney, who wasn’t part of the team’s previous four Scotties medals.
“It’s huge,” Scott said. “Boy, that Scotties jewelry, if you ever get the opportunity to wear one of those beautiful rings, we want nothing more than to earn that for Sarah.”