Team Einarson gains measure of revenge over Sweden at world women’s championship
A little payback on the frozen pebble always feels good, and Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson finally got some Wednesday morning at the 2022 BKT Tires & OK Tires Tire World Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Nature’s Bounty, in Prince George, B.C.
Einarson and her teammates from Gimli, Man., earned some much needed revenge over Team Sweden, skipped by Anna Hasselborg, in a key game at the CN Centre. The Canadians cracked a three-ender to open the game and survived a white-knuckle finish to post a 10-8 win over the Swedes, tightening things up at the top of the standings. The Canadians improved their record to 5-2 while the Swedes slipped to 6-2.
It was a crucial win for Einarson, supported by third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard, lead Briane Meilleur, alternate Krysten Karwacki, team coach Reid Carruthers and national coach Renée Sonnenberg. It kept them touch with the leaders and proved they can beat the Swedes who caused them so much grief at last year’s world championship in Calgary. Team Hasselborg won both games the two teams played in Alberta, including a playoff qualification game.
“This was a big one for us, playing a fantastic curling team,” said Carruthers. “It’s got to give us a confidence boost moving forward. I feel we’re building. Today was a pretty solid performance.”
The Canadians were assured to see their record rise to 6-2 by the end of the day. They will be handed a walkover win in the evening draw against Team Scotland, which had to pull out of the competition over COVID-19 concerns.
Meanwhile, the two front-runners had decidedly different morning results.
Two-time defending champions from Switzerland, skipped by Silvana Tirinzoni, climbed into sole possession of first place with a 7-0 record after bouncing skip Alzbeta Baudysova’s Team Czech Republic (1-6) 10-3. Meanwhile, Team Denmark, skipped by Madeleine Dupont, handed EunJung Kim’s Team South Korea its first loss, winning a measure in an extra end to post an 8-7 victory.
The Koreans fell to second place alone at 6-1 while the Danes improved to 5-2.
The top six teams in the 13-team, round-robin competition at the CN Centre qualify for the playoffs.
Team United States (5-2), skipped by Cory Christensen, stayed comfortably in the hunt for one of those spots and is tied with Team Canada and Team Denmark in fourth place after a 12-5 win over skip Dilsat Yildiz’s Team Turkey (0-7).
Team Japan (4-3), skipped by Ikue Kitazawa, was idle Wednesday morning and sits just outside the playoff line in seventh place.
It was sharp first five ends by the Canadians, who had the Swedes on the run right from the get-go. Einarson made a superb split on a front stone on her first stone to set up a score of three in the first end, then stole singles on the second and third ends when Hasselborg was heavy on last-rock draws.
Sweden responded with a deuce in four but a deft double by Einarson in the fifth yielded another three points and Team Canada went into the break up 8-2.
Hasselborg, making her fifth world championship appearance, wasn’t at her best at the beginning against the Canadians. She shot only 55 per cent at the break and didn’t get a lot of help from her support staff — vice-skip Sara McManus, second Agnes Knochenhauer, lead Sofia Mabergs, alternate Johanna Heldin and coach Wayne Middaugh — who won a bronze medal at the recent Olympic Winter Games.
But in a game as weird as witch’s brew, the Swedes did mount a comeback, taking advantage of offence-generating new no-tick rule down the stretch. The Swedes closed the score to 9-8 after nine, but the Canadians with last rock coming home never needed it to secure the win.
“They were making a ton of shots in the last half, so we had to keep playing well,” said Meilleur “We’ve strung a couple of wins together so hopefully upward and onward.”
Other teams enjoying the morning bye were Germany (3-4), Norway (3-4) and Italy (1-6).
The 2022 BKT Tires & OK Tire World Women’s Curling Championship continues Wednesday with draws at 2 p.m. at 7 p.m. (all times PT).
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This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2022worldwomen/nouvelles/?lang=fr