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Fifteen years of frustration finally shed

Longtime Swiss skip ecstatic after victory

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- Mirjam Ott may have been considered an underachiever before the world women's curling championship, but the Swiss skip shed that label in style Sunday.

The 40-year-old skip erased 15 years of personal frustration at this event going back to her first appearance in 1997, and 29 years of her country's frustration going back to Switzerland's last victory, in 1983 by Ott's former coach Erika Mueller, with a thrilling 7-6 win over Sweden's Margaretha Sigfridsson at the Enmax Centre.

Ott, who had just one bronze medal in five previous worlds appearances, made the two biggest shots of her life in the 10th end when it truly counted -- a draw to the four-foot around a corner guard, followed by a delicate tap to remove a Swedish stone for the game-winning deuce.

"I just knew we had a good chance to score two," said an ecstatic Ott, who had just one bronze medal in five previous world championship appearances. "I just played the same spot (as her first-rock draw), a little bit heavier, and as soon as I released, I thought it might be good.

"It's really great; we had an awesome week, my team fought and played really well. Everything turned fine for us. It's always nice being on the top."

In a game that featured six lead changes, it was the Swiss squad -- rounded out by third Carmen Schaefer, second Carmen Kueng and lead Janine Greiner -- that was able to finally land the knockout punch. Switzerland recorded the game's only steal in the fifth end when Swedish last-rock tosser Maria Prytz was heavy on back-to-back draws.

But from there, it was a matter of both teams trading haymakers -- two for the Swedes in six, two back from the Swiss in the eighth, and a Swedish go-ahead deuce in the ninth that set the stage for Ott's late-game dramatics.

"We knew the ice, and how much it curls there. She threw that last rock amazing," said Schaefer. "It's amazing. I still can't believe it. We made it. I'm so happy, so happy."

With just cause -- not only was it Switzerland's third gold medal at this event, but it also secured enough qualifying points for Switzerland to all but guarantee a spot in the Olympic field in 2014 at Sochi, Russia.

Sweden, meanwhile, fell short in a bid for back-to-back gold medals, and a ninth overall. While Sigfridsson was scored at 100 per cent throwing lead rocks, her team's last-rock tosser Maria Prytz struggled, finishing at 71 per cent -- that coming on the heels of a 55 per cent outing in her country's European championship gold-medal game loss to Scotland's Eve Muirhead in December in Moscow.

"I think it swung a little bit back and forth," said Sigfridsson. "Both teams played really well today and it was a fun game. Unfortunately, we didn't play as well as we had to."

Ott's team will fly back to Europe today, and she's expecting a warm reception at her home club in Davos.

"Oh, we will have a great, great party," she said with a smile. "We'll be partying and partying."

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2012 C3

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