Donna Spencer, CP English
Published: March 18, 2007
AOMORI, Japan — Canada's victories over Sweden and the U.S. at the women's world curling championship Sunday meant more to skip Kelly Scott than another couple notches in the win column.
A 7-5 win over reigning world and Olympic champion Anette Norberg and another 8-4 doubling of former world champ Debbie McCormick of the U.S., was a validation of how far Scott's team from Kelowna, B.C., had come since last year's world championship in Grande Prairie, Alta.
Scott, third Jeanna Schraeder, second Sasha Carter and lead Renee Simons had never beaten either team before Sunday.
The win against Norberg was significant for them as the Swedes are the dominant team in the world in women's curling. Norberg won the last two world championships as well as the Olympic gold medal last year.
"We've worked so hard and it's paying off, all the hours you put in back home practising and you don't really know what you are practising for," Scott said. "To get through the nationals again was great, but we knew that this is totally different.
"You can't really compare the two and to be coming here and performing so well in the first two days is good."
Canada was the only undefeated team Sunday at 4-0, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Scotland and China at 3-1. The U.S. joined Japan at 2-2 after losses to both Canada and Sweden on Sunday.
Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Germany and Russia were 1-3.
Canada faces host Japan's Moe Meguro and Italy's Diana Gaspari (0-4) on Monday.
The top four teams at the conclusion of the round robin Thursday advance to Friday's Page playoffs.
Norberg, McCormick and Scott were the pre-tournament favourites for gold after finishing in that order last year in Grande Prairie.
That was the first real international event for the Scott team on the world stage. They were a green and distracted team there, but the confidence they feel the second time around was evident in their play and their relaxed body language on Sunday.
"Our throws are just that much cleaner, it's just that much easier for Kelly to read the ice, we're tuned in and zoned in a little bit more to our deliveries, to the weight, to everything," Carter said.
They'd lost to Norberg in three previous meetings prior to Sunday. The Swedes' strength are their hits and peels and if they get a lead, it's lights out.
The Canada-Sweden game was held on the same sheet of ice at the Aomori Prefectural Skating Rink where the Canadians had beaten Germany soundly in their previous game, so Scott had a feel for the ice conditions.
She started the game with last-rock advantage and kept it close. The Swedes scored two in the fifth end for a 3-2 lead, but Canada countered with a pair in the sixth to rein them in.
The Canadians' execution sharpened as the game progressed and third Schraeder elevated game her game in the back half.
The Swedes made uncharacteristic mistakes and Norberg had problems with draw weight.
"I didn't think we played that well today, so we deserved to lose," Norberg said. "We had a little bit of trouble reading the ice and we also had two or three bad rocks and it took awhile for us to realize exactly what was wrong with them. They fooled me a bit."
The Canadians felt liked they'd finally cracked the code on how to beat Norberg.