Sweden starting to make noise at worlds
By CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency
|Sweden skip Margaretha Sigfridsson shouts to teammates during their game against the Czech Republic at the World Women's Curling Championships in Lethbridge, Alta., March 18, 2012. (ANDY CLARK/Reuters)
LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. - Any time a country can send a team other than the defending titleist to the world championship, you'd figure it has a lot of depth.
Sweden's team, skipped by Margaretha Sigfidsson, somehow managed to bump 2011 world champ Anette Norberg out of the mix.
And when you factor in Sweden is a perennial powerhouse at the world level -- its eight wins are exceeded only by Canada since this event first started in 1979 -- it's no surprise that Sigfidsson has started to make some noise.
The team got a couple of blowout wins after an upset loss to Korea on opening day and now looks poised to challenge for another title.
"The qualification system we have is based on results and performance during the entire season," said team captain Peja Lindholm, who made final decision to send the Sigfidsson foursome over Norberg to this championship.
"This team has been outstanding and Anette's team has been pretty poor this season, so the choice was very, very easy."
Sigfidsson has played various positions during her three previous appearances at the world championship. What makes this time unique is the fact she throws lead rocks and leaves the last-rock duties to Maria Prytz.
"Ya, that's unusual," said Sigfidsson, who threw third rocks and skipped in both a women's and junior women's world championship. "We set the team up the way we thought it would work the best. At one time, I started to play lead rocks and skipped."
Sigfidsson said the configuration works because it helps with the team's time management.
"Before this season, we talked about whether I should play second or third," she said. "If we did that, our play would be slower because I'd have to move back and forward on the sheet of ice. This is the fastest lineup."
The other plus, from her viewpoint, is that she's able to set up the end herself and in that way control the flow. This is a team that likes to junk it up, with plenty of rocks in play.
"I set it up and I get what I deserve," said Sigfidsson. "I get to skip the rest of the way I want from there. I have skipped Maria a lot of years. I know in what mood she's in and how to set up the game."
The team had a bit of bad luck in losing on Day 1, but seems to have turned its game around.
"We were a little bit tired," said Gustafsson. "We probably should have won that game. There's a lot of games left to play."
Previous champions like Elisabet Gustafsson and Norberg have given the country a strong tradition and depth.
Sigfidsson has been no slouch when it comes to her play this year. She skipped the team to a silver medal at the European championships in December, losing to Scotland's Eve Muirhead.
"There's no pressure on us because of that," Sigfridsson said. "We just think it's fun. We've set our goals. If we play our best, we will grab a medal for sure, but we need to play really, really well. Then, we will go for the final and do our best there."
That tradition of excellence has helped make Sweden a perennial contender.
"That helps us because other teams know what it takes to get there," said Lindholm.