LEDUC — Heather Nedohin won’t have to travel far to compete in her fifth Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
The Sherwood Park skip earned her way back to the Canadian women’s curling championship — set for Feb. 18-27 at the Red Deer Enmax Centrium — for the first time since 2000 by guiding her team to an 8-5 win over Jessie Kaufman’s Edmonton Saville Centre crew in Sunday’s Alberta final.
“I guess third time is a charm,” said Nedohin, another Saville Centre member who lost in the provincial final two of the three previous years — falling to Shannon Kleibrink last winter and losing to Cheryl Bernard in 2009 at Sylvan Lake.
The veteran skip said she and her rinkmates learned from the so-called mistakes they made in the 2011 final versus Kleibrink.
“We planned better,” she said, referring also to her supporting cast of third Beth Iskiw, second Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters. “Our physical fitness was a big thing. We felt we were tired going into the final last year and that was disappointing for us.”
Nedohin earned a berth in the championship game with a difficult 6-5 semifinal victory over Crystal Webster of Calgary earlier Sunday, stealing one point in the 10th end and then swiping another in the extra stanza.
“It was a very quick turnaround to the final, so preparation was big for us,” said the skip, who captured the 1996 world junior women’s championship at the Red Deer Curling Club (now the Curling Centre). “It was important in regards to what we ate and drank.”
The pre-game process clearly worked as the eventual provincial champs stormed out to an early 4-1 lead — thanks to a three-point outburst in the third end — and never looked back.
“We put the boots to them early and Shannon did the same thing to us last year,” said Nedohin, who out-curled Kaufman after losing twice to her Saville Centre clubmate twice over the previous four days — 6-4 in the A-event final and 6-3 in the A-B final.
In fact, the championship-game setback was Kaufman’s first loss of the week. She and her rinkmates were 5-0 going into the final.
“We struggled for the first half (of the final),” said Kaufman. “Heather’s team played lights out so you can’t complain about that. If it couldn’t have been us, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. She has a great team and they’ll definitely represent us well (in Red Deer).”
Kaufman trailed 6-2 after five ends but drew for a pair in the sixth to cut the deficit to two. After Nedohin was forced to take a single point in the seventh, Iskiw killed a Kaufman challenge for two in the eighth with a double takeout.
Kaufman took one to trail 7-5 and then gave up a single in the ninth and ran out of rocks playing the 10th. When Nedohin killed the final opposition stone with her last rock, Kaufman was done.
And now the veteran is headed back to Red Deer for yet another major curling event.
“We don’t have to travel far and neither do our friends and family,” said Nedohin. “What a proud moment — we get to represent Alberta.”