Lucky seven for Swedes

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:01 AM ET

PAISLEY, Scotland -- Sweden's Anette Norberg will always believe in lucky sevens.

In her seventh trip to the women's world curling championship, Norberg finally has her first gold medal.

Norberg, who earned four bronze medals and a silver in her previous appearances, beat Cassie Johnson of the United States 10-4 in the championship game yesterday at the Lagoon Leisure Centre.

"I'm a little relieved and very happy," Norberg said after her team received gold medals from World Curling Federation president Roy Sinclair at centre ice.

"We earned this gold medal both this year and by being close in previous years."

BEST TEAM IN THE TOURNAMENT

Norberg's foursome of third Eva Lund, second Cathrine Lindahl and lead Anna Bergstrom was the best team in the tournament all week, going 11-0 in the round robin before losing 6-5 to the U.S. in the 1-vs-2 Page playoff game on Saturday.

They rebounded with a convincing win over Norway in the semifinal and then had complete control against a young but fearless American squad.

Only narrow misses by Norberg in the third and sixth ends, which both resulted in steals of one for the Americans, kept Sweden from running away with the game.

As it was, Sweden took a 6-4 lead when Johnson missed a run-back attempt in the ninth and left Norberg a draw for two and then ran the Americans out of rocks in the 10th. Under international rules, the remaining rocks in the house are counted, so Sweden took four in the 10th despite not throwing its last rock.

The Swedes burst into celebration on the ice and were beaming as they hoisted the world championship trophy for the first time.

"We have been working very hard for this, and it feels great," Norberg said.

Norberg's team, which will represent Sweden at the Olympics in Turin next year and will likely be the favourite, emerged as the top team early in the week here because it had the best grasp on the changing ice conditions.

"We are used to playing on this type of ice in Sweden," Norberg said. "We had to pull it back a little bit because we like to play a very aggressive game, but here you had to be more careful."

It was a great week for the U.S. side from Bemidji, Minn., which includes third Jamie Johnson, second Jessica Schultz and lead Maureen Brunt.

They went 10-1 in the round robin and lost only two games all week -- both to the world champion Swedes.

They carried themselves with tremendous class and played well beyond their years in terms of confidence and ability. And Cassie Johnson, the 23-year-old skip, was voted the winner of the Frances Brodie Sportsmanship Award by her peers.

The Americans seemed legitimately happy for the Swedes and leave Paisley with the realization that they still have many great years ahead of them.

"It was great, and I'm really proud of my team," Johnson said. "This just gives us more incentive to win at the Olympics. We're just excited and a silver medal is not bad at all. I'm so excited for this team in the future. We're so young, and we'll be back. I'm not worried about it at all."

Norberg agreed that the Americans will be a force for years to come.

"They played very well," Norberg said. "It was a good final between the best two teams here this week."

Winnipeg's Rob Meakin, who serves as assistant national coach in the United States, said the American team exceeded everyone's expectations.

"Our girls played unbelievable all week, they didn't let anything rattle them," he said. "To come into the event as young as they are and do as well as they did; look at their future ... it's gotta look pretty good."


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