World curling: Canada joins final four

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GRANDE PRAIRIE, ALTA – No, they're not waving goodbye just yet.

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Against all odds, Team Canada's Kelly Scott pulled a Houdini last night, and is through to this afternoon's Page 3/4 playoff game.

First there was biiiiig trouble with a morning loss to the currently skipless Danes. Facing a must-win evening joust with Norway's Dordi Nordby – turns out if the Canucks had lost, they would have still been involved in tiebreakers thanks to Germany's defeat of China – they were down 6-2 and the writing was on the wall. But a big three-ender in nine, a steal in 10 and another extra-end steal gave the Canadians a wild 9-8 win over the hapless Norwegians.

We snuck in, Scott told CanWest's Vicki Hall. But it's nice. It's very rewarding for a really tough week. I was tougher than we ever expected, to tell you the truth. And we don't know why.

The sold-out crowd was surprisingly boisterous as Canada flailed about early in the match. The volume rose further with Canada's first deuce, and the three-ender raised the roof with a outlandish roar, shocking the media bench out of its stupor.

Scott again: They never give up, those fans. Even when we were doubting it, they aren't and we really do appreciate how they've stuck by us all week.

Perhaps the fans are used to seeing a national women's team struggle? Calgary's Shannon Kleibrink, who defeated Scott in December's Olympic Trials final, was a mess throughout the Olympic Games and caused much long-distance gnashing of teeth amongst Canada's curling fan base... and they still managed to regroup to win bronze with very little actual fan support, and a whole lot of ailments.

Scott takes on veteran Andrea Schoepp of Germany, while the Page 1/2 sees powerhouse Olympic champs Sweden, skipped by Anette Norberg, lock up with 2003 world champ Debbie McCormick of the USA.

Watch for fire between Germany and Sweden, if the Germans can get there... speaking of the Swedes, they haven’t had much time to chase down golden eggs, but they’re not optimistic of finding endorsement or sponsorship success. Why is this so?

Elsewhere around the rings:

• Have you heard? Of course you have: Team Colleen Jonesistoast, but don't be surprised to see Jonesy back with a new team, which could include Mary-Anne Arsenault. Watch for the season-ending April issue of The Curling News for an exclusive behind-the-scenes column from mrnn...

• Have you heard? Of course you have: Bubba’s back, inspired by 50-year-old Olympian Russ Howard. Welcome back to a living legend...

• The Kevin Martinrumour mill is swirling... the young Olympian with the bold new attitude will present a Juno award... and a charter TCN advertiser, Asham Curling Supplies, is now sponsoring the Canadian University Curling Championships...

• To the USA: Lowell excitement is heating up and they've got a wicked piece of public curling art on display... we've got more U.S. grassroots success stories to tell, from a couple of different markets, also from somewhere in PA, and even from faraway Springdale, Arizona...

• Have you heard? Of course you have: it’s now the Scotties Tournament of Hearts... more Ana Arcecalendar stories, this one from Edson, Alta... here's a Toronto blogger who tried curling...

• And finally, two Hollywood flicks have a curling angle on display. The promotional plans of the new (April 7) shlock-comedy The Benchwarmers, starring has-beens David Spade, Rob Schneider and hopefully-not-yet-a-has-been Jon Heder has the filmhouse creating a Benchwarmer's Day; a holiday that purportedly celebrates everyone who has ever been an underdog. Revelers are encouraged to participate in easily winnable games, such as kickball or curling... hmph. For more information, and to submit your own sob stories of the times you were picked on as a kid, visit here...

• As for the second, did you know the Disney animated comedy The Wildfeatures curling? In the movie, the characters play an animal version of curling, which may or may not be quite amusing (we're betting it IS). Incidentally, there are also lots of Canadian in-jokes... Canada geese who joke about Canadian border-crossings, and a penguin (the MC) who is voiced by famous Canuck hockey announcer Don Cherry...