Canada finishes with bronze

LETHBRIDGE — Heather Nedohin’s team passed a test of mental toughness by earning a hard-fought bronze medal for Canada at the women’s world curling championship.

Canada's skip Heather Nedohin waves to the crowd as her team celebrates after defeating Korea 9-6 to win the bronze medal at the Ford World Women's Curling Championships in Lethbridge. on Sunday.

LETHBRIDGE — Heather Nedohin’s team passed a test of mental toughness by earning a hard-fought bronze medal for Canada at the women’s world curling championship.

But with the next Winter Olympics less than two years away, are Canada’s top female curlers equipped to win amid challenges by countries which take an increasingly professional approach to the sport?

Canadian women have won world championship gold three times in the last decade. At the Olympics, it’s been two bronze and a silver since Sandra Schmirler’s gold in 1998 when curling made its Olympic debut. Canadian men have stood higher on the international podium more often with six world titles and two Olympic gold in the last 10 years.

Men’s elite teams in Canada outnumber women’s, making the process of natural selection effective in producing a men’s team that can beat the rest of the world.

The South Korean team that Canada defeated 9-6 for bronze Sunday, but also lost 4-3 to in a playoff game Saturday, is a professional outfit.

Curling will be the full-time jobs of Ji-Sun Kim and her teammates for the next six years until South Korea hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

China and Russia have also taken five or six female curlers and poured time and resources into them to produce a competitive team. That approach has yet to bear fruit for Russia, host of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Their women are still looking for their first world championship medal.

The results have been mixed for China as Bingyu Wang won a world title in 2009 and an Olympic bronze the following year.

But Wang wasn’t on the radar at this world championship with a 3-8 record.

Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott edged Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfriddson 7-6 for gold Sunday. Sweden and Switzerland have curling systems more like Canada as they have enough depth to make for tough domestic competition.

Sigfriddson, for example, had to beat two-time Olympic and three-time world champion Anette Norberg to get to Lethbridge.

It also bears pointing out countries like, China, South Korea and Russia put their best women’s team in Canada for weeks during the winter to train and face Canadian competition on the World Curling Tour.

Canada is still seen as a curling hot-house where other countries can fast-track the development of their teams.

Canada’s female curlers aren’t full-time athletes, nor will they be in the foreseeable future.

National champions receive funding from Own The Podium and Sport Canada for a two-year period, but many juggle the sport with childbirth, child-rearing and full-time jobs.

“When you hear about specialized teams or teams in foreign countries and it’s the core six and they’re practising four or five hours a day, how can you not get better?” Nedohin said as youngest daughter Alyssa hugged her mom’s knees.

“Myself, I’m at the rink maybe two hours, three hours? Honestly, two hours. If I could get an extra couple more hours in a day, I think I would be that much better.”

While Nedohin isn’t employed outside the home, her three teammates are. The skip points out they make more money at their jobs than they would as a full-time athlete.

Canada’s high performance curling system isn’t a free-for-all either. The top six women’s teams have access to Canadian Curling Association resources, coaching and sport science research.

“As soon as they hit the radar screen within their province or the national-team program, then they come into a very sophisticated training system, which I think is better than what they’re doing internationally,” Canadian women’s team coach Elaine Dagg-Jackson said.

“Is there a benefit of taking five people and practising five hours a day every day for four years. Of course, there’s a benefit, but does that outweigh the benefit of Heather Nedohin’s 20 years of skipping experience? No, I don’t think so. Our sport is much bigger than a few people. That allows the best to rise up.”

Dagg-Jackson says she is heavily scouting the 24 female curlers in the national-team pool.

“We are looking for very specific things to get two, three or four per cent increase in performance,” the coach explained.

“This season, with our national teams, we’re going to go look at every single player individually and look for what are the very specific things they need to do. It might be sweeping and communication for one team. It might be weight control with another team.”

Canada has finished out of the medals just five times in the 34-year history of the women’s world championship. Nedohin’s team battled fatigue and the disappointment of not playing for gold to keep Canada among the world’s elite.

“It extremely important,” Nedohin said. “For us, it’s all about winning your last game and for us, we went out and played solid right until the end.

“A medal at this level is a very proud moment.”

The men’s world curling championship opens Saturday in Basel, Switzerland. Glenn Howard, Wayne Middaugh, Brent Laing and Craig Savill out of the Coldwater Curling Club in Ontario will represent Canada.

The 2013 women’s world championship will be in Riga, Latvia.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Lee seeks UCP nomination in Red Deer

Eyes Red Deer-North constituency

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Red Deer city council considers new business licence bylaw

All businesses operating in the City of Red Deer will require a… Continue reading

Saskatchewan farmer’s death triggers emotional harvest of love and respect

MILESTONE, Sask. — Volunteers have rallied to harvest the large wheat crop… Continue reading

Councillors want to represent Red Deer at AUMA

City council approves endorsement

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Case of truck driver charged in Humboldt Broncos crash adjourned until October

MELFORT, Sask. — The case of a Calgary truck driver charged in… Continue reading

Animal crackers break out of their cages

After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of… Continue reading

Alligator kills woman trying to protect her dog at resort

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — A woman who often walked her dog… Continue reading

Patients redirected as water leak shuts down Edmonton hospital’s emergency room

EDMONTON — Ambulances are being redirected to other hospitals after a water… Continue reading

Parks Canada moves second bison bull that wandered out of Banff National Park

BANFF — Parks Canada says a second bison bull that wandered out… Continue reading

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is scrapping an unpopular lottery system for… Continue reading

Air Canada-led consortium signs deal to buy Aeroplan program from Aimia

TORONTO — A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal… Continue reading

Scheer going to India to ‘repair’ relationship after ‘disastrous’ Trudeau trip

OTTAWA — Six months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy prowess… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month