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Canadian curlers fall to Russia, barely missing Olympic qualifying berth

Canada third Amy Nixon wears a pair of bunny ears prior to the start of the bronze-medal game against Russia at the women's world curling championship in Swift Current, Sask. on Sunday.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canadian third Amy Nixon couldn't stop the tears, let alone hide her disappointment.

Russia's Anna Sidorova edged Canada's Chelsea Carey 9-8 to capture the bronze medal Sunday at the women's curling world championship. The loss effectively puts Carey's Calgary-based rink of Nixon, lead Laine Peters and second Jocelyn Peterman back to square one for Olympic qualifying.

Nixon, who won bronze at the 2006 Turin Games, was heartbroken after watching an Olympic qualifying berth slip through her fingers.

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"I'm not going to lie, I'm gutted. I'm gutted," Nixon said as tears streamed down her face. "One of the hardest losses of my career, personally.

"It happens and it's just a sport but right now? That hurt. That's hurting."

Canada's Olympic trials for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will have the top nine teams from each gender enter into a standard curling tournament starting Dec. 2, 2017. One way for a women's team to guarantee an invitation is to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts – which Carey's rink did Feb. 28 – but that invitation is conditional on winning a medal at the following world championships.

"The work that goes into getting this far and knowing it took me 10 years to get back in this situation," Nixon said, pausing to kiss her two-year-old daughter, Kali, who was trying to wipe away her mother's tears. "It's exhausting, mentally, for me to even imagine getting back, honestly.

"I just feel like this was maybe my chance."

Switzerland's Binia Feltscher was scheduled to face Japan's Satsuki Fujisawa in the final Sunday. The Swiss defeated the Japanese in the 1-2 Page playoff.

Despite the loss, it was a successful inaugural season for the Carey rink. She joined the team as skip after two-time Canadian champion Heather Nedohin stepped away to devote more time to her family.

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With Carey at the helm, the squad rolled through the Alberta playdowns then captured the Scotties Tournament of Hearts to become national champions before finishing fourth at the world championship.

"For me, my first worlds, I certainly learned a lot," Carey, who will play as Canada at next year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts, said. "I feel like just having the experience would certainly help me if I were lucky enough to get back to a world championship."

Sidorova opened with a deuce in the first end, but Carey replied with two in the second. Russia was held to a single in the third after a measuring stick found Canada's rock was closer than Sidorova's second stone.

Another measure in the fourth gave Russia one and a 4-2 lead with Sidorova adding another in the fifth.

Holding hammer in the sixth, Carey scored a deuce to pull to within 5-4. Carey took a 6-5 lead on a steal of two in the seventh after Sidorova knocked out her own rock on an attempted runback with her second-last stone.

A well-placed tap in the eighth scored Russia three for an 8-6 lead.

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It marked the third meeting between the two rinks at the tournament, with Sidorova winning in the round robin as well as the 3-4 Page playoff.

"They made a lot of shots," Carey said. "But we just had opportunities and couldn't take advantage of them in all of those games.

"We had chances and just couldn't capitalize on them."

Carey brought the largely Canadian crowd at Credit Union iPlex to its feet with a double takeout for a deuce in the ninth end and tie it 8-8. Sidorova hit a simple tap in the 10th to clinch the victory and third successive bronze-medal win for Russia.

"These chances just don't come often, many times, in people's careers," Nixon said. "And I'm well aware of that."

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