The world women’s curling championship is serving as a reunion of sorts. Six of the 12 skips taking part in the world championship at the Credit Union i-plex took part in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Sweden’s Annette Norberg, the gold-medal winner, isn’t in the field and neither is Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard, the Olympic silver medallist. Both skips passed on the chance to be part of the world championship due to their Olympic commitments.
Regardless, the skips and teams that are at the championships can’t wait to get started “There is no letdown because this is a little more like family,’’ said Angelina Jensen, who calls the game for Denmark but throws second. “I like to come to small places like this because everyone is so happy. They really like having people like us here. It’s very different than being at the Olympics because you have a lot of other sports. Here, it’s all about curling and that’s what we love about it.’’
China’s Bingyu Wang, the bronze-medal winner in Vancouver, Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont, Japan’s Moe Meguro, Germany’s Andrea Schopp, Scotland’s Eve Muirhead and Russia’s Liudmila Privivkova represented their respective countries at the Winter Olympics. Part of the recovery process for some of the women, with the exception of Wang, was dealing with the disappointment of not reaching the podium in Vancouver. It sounds like most have already put that behind them.
“Every championship is just as big as the other,’’ Muirhead said. “Winning a world-championship medal should be just as good as winning an Olympic medal. You have to take both championships for what they are.’’
Muirhead’s road to the Swift Current was more challenging than the one followed by the other Olympians. Muirhead returned after being Britain’s representative in Vancouver, then had two days of rest before resuming the Scottish national playdowns.
Muirhead prevailed but at a cost, when third Jacquie Lockhardt injured a knee during warm-ups for the Scottish final on March 6. Muirhead said Lockhardt has already had knee surgery and is on crutches in Scotland. Kelly Wood moved from second to third, Lorna Vevers was promoted from lead and Olympic alternate Anne Laird was added to the playing roster as lead.
“That was hard because we had focused so much on the Olympics,’’ Muirhead said. “We were disappointed but we had our championship to play for. We knew had to do well if we wanted a second chance at all of these girls.’’
Canada’s Jennifer Jones didn’t get a chance to play at the Olympics because she bowed out at the Canadian Olympic team trials. Jones and her Winnipeg crew of Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer and Dawn Askin remain the favourites at the world championship, despite not being among the former Olympians. China, Denmark and Japan are also among the favourites here.
“You can’t write anyone off but Jennifer has to be up there,’’ said Muirhead. “She is definitely going to be the one to beat. But China is the defending world champions and the Olympic bronze medallist so they are going to be really tough. All of the usual teams are going to be strong and every game is going to be tough.’’
Jones winced when asked about being a favourite. “Everyone here is pretty tough and China is the reigning world champs,’’ said Jones, who is appearing in her fourth world championship since 2005 and third straight since 2008. “We’re going to have to play pretty well. The goal all week is to make the playoffs and hopefully this year we’ll play a little better.’’