Jones: It was fun until the music ended

Canada skip Heather Nedohin reacts after losing to South Korea during their page playoff game at...

Canada skip Heather Nedohin reacts after losing to South Korea during their page playoff game at the World Women's Curling Championships in Lethbridge, Alberta March 24, 2012. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:22 PM ET

LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. - Tears flooded into her eyes and she broke down, barely getting out the last couple of words.

“There's no way we're losing that bronze medal game. No way. We're going to have fire in our bellies,” said Heather Nedohin after gassing the 3-4 game at the Ford World Women's Curling Championships 4-3 to Korea here Saturday.

It would have been such a good story. She'd come from fourth to win the 3-4 game, the semi-final and the final at the Scotties in Red Deer without last rock advantage. And she knocked off the Americans in a tie-breaker to set-up the same scenario here.

“You know, this is the same damn thing as 1998. I'm going to win the bronze,” added the Edmonton skip of the last time she wore the maple leaf as a third for Cathy King at the world championships.

Nedohin was a less than gracious winner, bad mouthing Korean skip Ji-Sun Kim for being defensive and boring saying, “the only entertaining end was the last one”.

That's the one knock nobody could possibly have on Nedohin here today or going forward to find out if she'll join Colleen Jones (1982, 1999, 2002) and Jennifer Jones (2005, 2009) as the only Canadians to ever come to this event and not leave with a medal.

She was never boring.

There are a lot of ways to look at what happened here as Nedohin gassed the 10th end, giving up two and the game when it looked like she was in control to go extra ends with hammer.

The loss cost organizers an estimated $60,000-$100,000 in gate revenue and untold television numbers going forward.

If Nedohin had won the game, she would have advanced to Saturday night's semi-final against Mirjam Ott with the winner proceeding to the final.

Instead she has a 9 a.m. bronze medal game on TSN2.

Nedohin, clearly, was devastated with a game she appeared to have set up to head to an extra end with last rock advantage until it all came unraveled.

“As a Canadian, a Team Alberta, as Team Nedohin and Team Canada, we came here to win. We absolutely believed it. We're a strong playoff team and we had the strength of a whole nation behind us in that game and we went out to win that one.

For a fourth consecutive year, Canada won't be winning gold here, but one thing which must be written as we await her final fate is what Heather Nedohin gave Canada and world curling here was, indeed, gold.

It was gold in the first place with her roller-coaster ride in Red Deer and then the schizophrenic show she put on during the week. And she was an experience to behold as she wore her emotions on her sleeve and bumped and grinded her way through the week, enthralling spectators in person and in front of the television with her language, body language, facial expressions and dancing to the music between ends.

It started, in Red Deer, with the miked-up skip saying “Sh*tballs!”. That went viral on the internet and turned into six-figure YouTube hits and a small t-shirt industry.

“She is the most animated curler I've ever photographed,” said Andy Clark of Reuters, who has been shooting curling for the wire service since his first Brier in 1980.

“Even when you think you've seen it all, she does something different.”

Michael Burns Jr., who has been shooting the sport since 1979 since taking over as official photographer from his father who began with his dad covering the Richardson rink in 1958, said there has been nobody, ever, to match the contortions and expressions she produced this year.

“We've been blessed this week. At any given time she could be up in the rafters. Great reactions to shots. She was all over the ice. She gave us incredible pictures.”

Canadians who casually follow the sport found somebody to pull them into to TV set and into the arena here where crowds were thin to start but ended up with a near capacity crowd providing a scene not unlike the one which we experienced at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics venue.

“I think it was amazing what people watched from her this year. Just awesome,” said Canadian coach Elaine Dagg-Jackson. “Heather plays with such passion, it's like she's at some other place all by herself. When she's in her zone, she's just out there enjoying herself so much, she just lets it fly. She just loses herself in her performances.

"That's when she's great. I noticed when she struggled there at the end of the round robins, she was a little less demonstrative," she added. “At the Scotties she was completely comfortable. She'd been there before. But she hasn't been here before. The maple leaf can get very heavy.”

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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