It's time to use clocks

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- Controversy exploded over the lack of time clocks at the women's world curling championship last night when Russia was heavily penalized for taking too long to play a shot.

The Russian foursome, skipped by Lucy Privivkova, was warned in the fourth end of a game against Canada's Jennifer Jones to throw her last rock -- against four -- within the next 30 seconds.

REMOVED FROM PLAY

She got to the hack to shoot but was informed by umpire Christine Shaw that the rock was being removed from play.

That gave Canada a steal of four and a 5-2 lead in a game in which it was getting outplayed. The Jones foursome went on to a 9-8 victory, stealing a point in the 10th end to improve to 3-1.

The incident would never have happened had the championship featured time clocks. The clocks were removed Friday when timers walked out in a dispute with the host committee over per diems.

"It's very unfortunate that they don't have time clocks at a world championship when it's a rule of the game," said Jones, whose team was blasted 10-3 by Scotland's Kelly Wood in the afternoon. "To get a 30-second warning to go and throw your rock, I don't think it's right.

"I felt really bad for them. She didn't really have much of a shot anyway ... I think the best she could have done would be give us three, but still, it's really unfortunate."

Essentially, the Canadian foursome, which includes third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and lead Cathy Gauthier, got a break from the World Curling Federation rulebook to salvage what had been a horrible day.

Jones shot just 27% against Scotland and the team wasn't faring much better in slushy conditions against Russia.

And even after the four points went up on the board for Canada, the game was no gimme. Russia scored three in the fifth, stole one in the sixth and scored two with the hammer in the eighth to take an 8-6 lead.

Jones came up light with a draw for three in the ninth but her team won a measure to score the tying points, and then Canada played a solid 10th, with Privivkova missing an in-off and roll to the button that would have given her the win.

"It was an adventure out there," Jones said. "It's frustrating and it's not a lot of fun because the ice is very tricky and frosty and doesn't really allow for great shots to be made. We hung in there and made her make a great shot at the end, and she missed it."

At most major championships, time clocks are used to limit teams to 75 minutes apiece. But when time clocks aren't available, they revert to a rule in which an umpire can judge whether or not they are taking too long on any given shot and invoke the 30-second warning.

"I was completely in shock and I think that things like that should never, ever happen in a world championship," said Gauthier, playing in her third worlds. "I know it's in the book, but there was a ton of rocks in play and she had a lot of things to look at. Being on the other side of the coin doesn't make you feel good about seeing those points go up for you. That was surreal."

The young Russian players were stunned by the situation, although they showed tremendous pluck in coming back, and their coach was livid.

"This is not championships between two houses, it is world championships," said Olga Andrianova. "It's not right. They have no time control. It was in fourth end, the last stone where they can win or lose. In curling we have no experience of this ever (before)."

The Russian skip was not clear about whether or not she would file a formal protest.

Canada returns to the ice for games against China and Sweden today.

The United States (Cassie Johnson) leads the standings at 4-0, while Sweden's Anette Norberg is 3-0, followed by Canada and Norway (Dordi Nordby) at 3-1.


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