Clocks ticking for playoffs

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- Time clocks are ticking again at the world women's curling championship. The World Curling Federation has reinstated the timing devices for today's playoff games after they went unused during the round robin due to a dispute over per diems between the host committee and on-ice officials.

The clocks will limit teams to 73 minutes plus two one-minute timeouts during the playoff games. That should keep games in the 2 1/2-hour range and eliminate the three hour, 45 minute marathons that went on this week in the absence of time clocks.

"We're very happy to have them," WCF vice-president Les Harrison said yesterday at the Lagoon Leisure Centre. "We wish we could have had them all week ... unfortunately it was a host committee responsibility and things didn't work out. Now we've got them back, and we're utilizing them as we should."

The clocks have always been on site but can only be used now that there are fewer games going on, because there are now more officials available.

"We have the opportunity coming into the playoffs where we have extra officials, and those officials are basically expert timekeepers," Harrison said.

The decision to use clocks is welcome news to the Canadian team, skipped by Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones, because they are always part of championships on our side of the pond.

"For us, it's a bonus," said Canadian lead Cathy Gauthier. "It's something that we are going to have to, for the first time this week, pay attention to because we've also started to slow down our pace a little bit ... why wouldn't we?"

Jones said the addition of the clocks brings up the level of the entire Paisley event.

"It's great because it's a rule of curling and this is a world championship," she said.

GREAT SCOTS: The host team from Scotland had a rough week, finishing in sixth place with a 6-5 record. Certainly a disappointment for the country (with Rhona Martin skipping) that won the gold medal at the 2002 Olympics.

But Kelly Wood's team played a role yesterday, beating Russia 10-4 in its last round-robin game to mess up the playoff picture.

The Russians fell to 7-4 and had to play Norway in yesterday's tie-breaker instead of going straight into the 3-vs-4 game against Canada.

Norway won 10-2 in seven ends, and the Russians were finished.

"At the end of the day, we wanted to win no matter what," said Wood. "Whoever we would have beaten today, whether it knocked them into a tie-breaker or not, it didn't really mean much to us. It's nice to make sure your last game counts."

PEBBLES: Canada's game (or games) will appear on television today. The CBC will televise the 3-vs-4 Page playoff game between Canada and Norway at 8 a.m., on Country Canada, with Don Wittman calling the game and Mike Harris and Joan McCusker providing the colour. If Canada loses that game and is eliminated, a condensed version of the contest will be aired on the CBC main network prior to today's semifinal, which will be carried on the full network at 1 p.m ... It was a tremendous debut at the world championship for China. The team, skipped by 21-year-old Bingyu (Betty) Wang, which comes from a town bordering Outer Mongolia, finished with a 4-7 record in seventh place. They earned the seventh-place finish with a 10-4 win over Switzerland, considered by many to be a medal favourite, yesterday. Switzerland finished eighth. The Chinese were not able to earn an Olympic berth, however, as fifth-place Russia secured the 10th and final berth for Turin 2006 this week.


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