Win, or go home

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- It's all sudden death from here on in for Canada. Jennifer Jones and her Winnipeg teammates are three wins away from a world women's curling championship gold medal, but they are likely to have the fight of their lives ahead of them.

The Canadians will have to get through four major opponents to win the world title -- Norway (two-time champion Dordi Nordby), the United States (former world junior champ Cassie Johnson), Sweden (Anette Norberg, who is undefeated through 11 games this week) and the ice conditions at the Lagoon Leisure Centre.

It all starts today when the Canadians (8-3) go up against Norway (7-4) in the Page playoff 3-vs-4 game (8 a.m., CBC).

"After (Thursday's) game we had new life," said Canadian third Cathy Overton-Clapham, whose team erased a three-point deficit in the 10th end and stole one in the 11th to beat Norway 11-10 and qualify for the playoffs in its last round-robin game.

"We are starting to come on like we were in St. John's (at the Canadian championship). We are playing better than we did at the beginning of the week, but we are going to have to be at our best (today)."

Sweden (11-0) meets the United States (10-1) in today's 1-vs-2 game, where the winner advances directly to tomorrow's final and the loser drops to today's semifinal.

The winner of the game between Canada and Norway advances to the semifinal (1 p.m.), while the loser is eliminated.

The Canadians know they got a bit of a gift from Nordby, who flashed takeouts in the 10th and 11th ends Thursday to give Canada a stunning victory.

"Dordi is a big fighter," said Canadian lead Cathy Gauthier, whose team gave up a five-ender against Norway and had to battle back from way down.

"I have no worries about playing Dordi, but we know she's going to play well, and if we ever give up five against her again, we're never coming back. You've gotta know that in her mind she's thinking that was a game she never should have lost."

If they do get past Norway, there will still be those three other roadblocks standing in the Canadians' way.

They lost to both Sweden and the United States in the round robin and have never matched those teams in terms of consistency throughout the week.

And they'll have to play on one of the dreaded middle sheets of ice, where frost has been a particular problem all week.

"I'm praying," Gauthier said. "We came out to throw (Thursday night) and it was absolutely abysmal. That's a little bit frightening because it was supposed to be game-ready conditions."

The Canadian team practised on Sheet C again yesterday and reported less difficulty, but they are fully aware that the conditions can change at any time in this less-than-perfect facility.

However, Jones said the team is ready to take on all comers, including the nasty Mr. Frost.

"We'll be OK," said Jones, who also curls with second Jill Officer. "We've picked up on it a little better, and we are playing with a lot of confidence.

"We are a new team now that the playoffs are starting, and it doesn't matter that (Sweden and the U.S.) beat us in the round robin."

Norway made the playoffs yesterday by beating Russia (Lucy Privivkova) 10-2 in a tie-breaker.


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