LETHBRIDGE — Heather Nedohin likes to let the horses run, while her third Beth Iskiw wants to pull on the reins.
It’s a relationship that seems to work for Canada’s back end at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship.
Despite losing their first game Monday, Canada was still in the lead pack at 4-1 alongside South Korea and Sweden heading into Tuesday. Canada started slow in both its games, but came back to beat the Czech Republic 8-7 before falling 9-7 to Denmark in an extra end.
“The difference between Beth and I is that I’m aggressive and she’s conservative, so we do have to meet in the middle and come to an agreement,” Nedohin said.
“We bicker like old Bettys. I call her my Betty and I’m Dorothy to her. We laugh like we’re two old women trying to beat each other in a game of chess. I know it’s different than what other back enders do. Other thirds may play more the role of puppet, say ’yes’ and agree.
“I like that she has the confidence to give me a different point of view, yet at the same time trust that I’ll make the final decision and then we’re all-in to make that shot.”
Canada had little choice but to play aggressively Monday as they fell behind in both games and split them.
The Czech Republic’s Linda Klimova scored five points in the second end to lead 5-0. Nedohin’s Edmonton foursome went to work scoring eight points, six of them stolen.
Canada fell just short of a comeback against Denmark at night, however. The Canadians allowed single-point steals in the third and fourth ends to trail 3-0 before losing in an extra end to Lene Nielson’s young team.
Canada stole two to force an 11th end, but Neilson made her raise takeout for the win.
Canada’s second Jessica Mair did not feel well and took herself out of the game after the sixth end. Alternate Amy Nixon performed well off the bench, shooting 98 per cent in her four ends.
Nielson, whose young team finished fourth at the world championship last year, didn’t make the mistakes the Czechs did to open the door for a Canadian comeback.
“We’ve got room for improvement, but it’s only Monday,” Nedohin said. “We split today and we knew we weren’t going to go undefeated. I thought we battled and showed great character.”
Her team is “slow out of the gate,” as Nedohin put it earlier. The skip believes her team needs to get rocks in better position in the top half of the rings.
“Owning the top of the house is key,” Nedohin said.
South Korea’s Sun-Ji Kim and Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfriddson won twice Monday to join Canada at the top of the standings. The top four teams at the conclusion of the round robin Thursday advance to playoffs.
Kim is the early surprise at this world championship. Her team went 2-9 in last year’s world championship. With Pyeongchang winning the bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, expect South Korea to make strides in all winter sports, including curling.
Denmark and Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott were 3-2 ahead of the Czech Republic, Scotland’s Eve Muirhead, Russia’s Anna Sidorova, Germany’s Melanie Robillard and Italy’s Diana Gaspari all at 2-3.
Allison Pottinger of the U.S. ended a four-game losing streak with a 7-2 win over Scotland. China’s Bingyu Wang, the 2009 world champion, was also 1-4.
Curling fans discovered at this year’s national women’s championship how entertaining Nedohin can be with her dramatic body language and facial expressions. The occasional butting of heads between Nedohin and Iskiw over strategy also drew attention at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“In the past, we’ve had some pretty good arguments out there about different strategy calls and we definitely laugh about it afterwards,” Iskiw said.
“We room together too and sometimes we’ve come back to the room too and said, ’This is what I was thinking,’ and we’re across the hotel room saying ’What are we going to do next time?’
“I used to believe it wasn’t good for a skip and a third to room together, but for us it works because we get that out a little bit if we need to discuss things.”
Iskiw, 32, knows Nedohin has the final say. She chooses her time to make a stand carefully.
“Everybody is talking about how she’s emotional and I can feel that as well, when I can’t press the limits with her,” Iskiw said. “You can tell by her body language and the way she’s talking, I will step back.
“Unless I absolutely disagree with something, I won’t be that strong. If I’m disagreeing, I’m really believing a certain way.”