Skip Eve Muirhead of Scotland releases her rock as her teammates Claire Hamilton and Vicki Adams get ready to sweep in the Prestige Hotels Curling Classic at the Vernon Curling Club.

Women chasing $40K purse

Bingyu Wang of China and Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon first rinks through to final-eight of Prestige Hotels Curling Classic in Vernon.

Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton and China’s Bingyu (Betty) Wang each went 4-0 in preliminary play to grab the first two berths in the final-eight at the $40,000 Prestige Hotels Curling Classic Friday at the Vernon Curling Club.

B and C bracket play continued Saturday, while playoffs for the 32-team, triple-knockout cashspiel begin today with the quarterfinals at 9 a.m., semis at noon, and the championship game at 4 p.m.

Wang, who surprised the women’s curling scene with her runner-up performance at the 2008 Ford worlds in Vernon, outgunned her competition this week, grounding Minnesota’s Allison Pottinger 9-4, Scotland’s Eve Muirhead 8-4 and Cloverdale’s Marla Mallett 8-3 before stopping Calgary’s Amy Nixon 6-5 Friday night.

Lawton racked up wins over Kamloops’ Allison McInnes (6-3), Winnipeg’s Barb Spencer (9-5), St. Paul, Minn.’s Cassie Potter and defending champion Heather Nedohin of Edmonton (6-5).

Nedohin, a two-time Canadian champion (2012 and 1998) and former world junior champ, is among the frontrunners looking to make a push towards the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“Every Olympic year is a big season, and there are several of us Canadian teams that are gearing up for the first week of December (Olympic trials),” said Nedohin.

“We’ve been building over the last two years, and we’ve been able to map out how we want to be ready for this season. It’s nice to know we were in the trials before and be able to prepare properly.”

Nedohin, supported by third Beth Iskiw, second Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters, opened her season with a semifinalist showing at her hometown cashspiel – The Shoot-Out @ the Saville Centre.

She started the Vernon spiel with a narrow 3-2 win over New Westminster’s Kelley Law.

“In your first game of an event, you’re still learning the ice,” said Nedohin, who faced Kelowna’s Kelly Scott Saturday morning. “We call it green – you’re never sure what the ice is going to be like, so you’re a bit more conservative.

“It’s just a matter of mapping out the ice and getting comfortable with the rocks, and feeling confident to be able to make bigger shots later.”

Other B bracket matchups Saturday morning had Japan’s Ayumi Ogasawara vs Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott, Russia’s Anna Sidorova vs Edmonton’s Renee Sonnenberg, and Switzerland’s Michele Jaggi vs Nixon.

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