SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. — With a perfect record at the women’s world curling championship no longer possible, Canada’s Jennifer Jones hit the reset button and turned her attention towards improving her playoff position.
The Winnipeg team suffered its first loss Wednesday at the hands of Germany’s Andrea Schopp, after winning eight straight games to start the tournament.
Jones almost squeezed out a ninth victory, but fell 8-7 in an extra end to Schopp, who is skipping Germany at the worlds for the 17th time in her career.
Canada was tied at 8-1 with Scotland’s Eve Muirhead, and the two rinks conclude the round robin against each other Thursday night. Erika Brown of the U.S., Sweden’s Cecilia Ostlund and Germany were all behind the frontrunners at 6-3.
Defending champion Wang Bingyu of China was 5-4 followed by Russia’s Anna Sidorova and Denmark’s Angelina Jensen, both at 4-5.
The top four teams in the 12-country field advance to playoffs.
Any ties for fourth will be solved by tiebreaker games. Jones was assured of at least that after beating Japan’s Moe Meguro 10-2 earlier Wednesday and will attempt to secure a playoff berth Thursday. Canada meets Russia on Thursday morning before facing the Scots at night.
“We’ll have to come out and win both our games tomorrow and see what happens from there,” Jones said. “Obviously we’re disappointed. You’re going to lose a game here and there likely and we’d rather have it in the round robin.
“Our fate is in our own hands and sometimes we don’t even have that, so we’ve got everything in control I think.”
Only two teams have gone undefeated in the round robin of the women’s world championship in its history: Canada’s Colleen Jones in 2003 and Sweden’s Anette Norberg in 2005. No team has gone unbeaten through both the preliminary and playoff rounds.
There were few blemishes on Canada’s game up until Wednesday’s loss in front of 2,366 at the Credit Union iplex. The first four ends of their opening game against Sweden and the first five ends against China were shaky, but the Canadians recovered in time to win both games.
A shooting accuracy percentage of 81 per cent against Germany was Canada’s lowest since their 79 rating against Sweden to open the tournament.
Canada scored three in the third end to take a 3-1 lead against Germany, but gave three back the next end when Jones missed a raise takeout.
Schopp rubbed a guard with her last throw of the eighth, but a measurement determined she was close enough to the button to score two and take a 7-6 lead.
Jones faced a tough triple raise to get two for the win in the 10th, but settled for one. Her attempted draw behind cover in the extra end curled into the open for a Schopp takeout and the win.
Schopp, who skipped Germany to sixth at the Olympics last month, wasn’t motivated by ending Canada’s perfect run, but was driven to keep herself in playoff contention. Her lone world title in this tournament was in 1988.
“I don’t care about the Canadians. I just care about us,” Schopp said. “We have to try to get every point . . . so I don’t care who we are playing.
“I don’t think they had their best game. We had a lot of missed shots too.”
In the Page playoff, the top two seeds meet with the winner advancing straight to Sunday’s final. The loser drops to Saturday’s semifinal to meet the winner of the playoff game between the third and fourth seeds.
Teams aim to finish first or second in the preliminary round because they get a second chance to make the final if they lose the first playoff game, while the loser of the three-four game can do no better than bronze.
Jones doesn’t have good history in the three-four game at world championships. She lost that playoff both in 2005 in Paisley, Scotland, and also last year in Gangneung, South Korea, and finished out of the medals.
When she and teammates Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer and Dawn Askin captured their first world title together in Vernon, B.C., in 2008, they lost the one-two playoff game, won the semifinal and then the final over Wang.
“The one-two is a nice game to play in, but if you’re not in there, we’re OK with that,” Jones said.
She and her teammates were looking forward to their first evening off in the tournament.
“We haven’t really had a good medal since we’ve been here because we’ve been playing every night, so we’re excited for that,” she said.