The Champ Bows Out

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson (center) finishes delivering a stone to second Shannon Birchard (right) and lead Krysten Karwacki (left) in a 9-4 loss in the 3 / 4 Page Qualifying match against Team Manitoba-Cameron (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Team Canada’s run at history ends at Scotties

Maybe it was too much to ask. Winning a Scotties Tournament of Hearts is tough enough, but winning five consecutive is a tall order. 

That was skip Kerri Einarson’s goal coming into this year’s Scotties in Calgary, and as it turned out, the mountain was too steep to climb. 

Einarson’s Team Canada (Gimli, Man.) was ushered out the door Friday night, dropping a 9-4 decision in a Page 3 / 4 qualifying game to Team Manitoba-Cameron (Winnipeg), skipped by Kate Cameron. 

Einarson’s exit came quickly. Team Canada rolled through the preliminary round-robin pool play with a 7-1 record, but once the playoffs came around Friday it was — bang-bang — two losses and out. The old Einarson magic and comeback ability was not meant to be. 

“It sucks but I guess it had to come to an end at some point,” said Einarson who lost 8-4 earlier in the day to Team Ontario-Homan (Ottawa) in a Page 1 / 2 qualifying game. “We battled hard through all the adversity we had this week and I’m super proud of this team.” 

In the other qualifying game at WinSport Event Centre, Team Alberta (Edmonton), skipped by Selena Sturmay, kept her surprising team alive for a national title with an 8-5 victory over Team Manitoba-Lawes (Winnipeg), skipped by Kaitlyn Lawes. 

The Albertans had dropped their Page 1 / 2 qualifying game 8-4 earlier in the day to Team-Manitoba-Jones, skipped by Jennifer Jones. 

Team Manitoba-Cameron and Team Alberta now move on to the Page 3 / 4 game Saturday at noon (all times Mountain) at WinSport Event Centre. Team Ontario and Team Manitoba-Jones follow at 6 p.m. in the Page 1 / 2 game. 

It was a fabulous run by Team Einarson, equalling the four-in-a-row record (2002-2004) compiled by skip Colleen Jones and her sensational team from Halifax. But the odds may have been stacked against the champs, considering the depth of fields the Scotties has each year. 

Team Canada looked poised to win and move on with a 4-2 lead after four ends, but a series of miscues after that let Team Manitoba-Cameron back in the game. The crusher was an Einarson draw that slid too heavy in the eighth end that led to a steal of two. 

Team Canada made it interesting in the 10th end, building an end that had the makings of a game-tying score of three, but Einarson just missed a thin double and history was denied.  

Team Manitoba-Cameron second Kelsey Rocque (left) and lead Mackenzie Elias (right) sweep a stone in the 3 / 4 Page Qualifying game. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Cameron, though, was thrilled to move along. The veteran skip, who has played extensively in Alberta recently, put together a new team — third Meghan Walter, second Kelsey Rocque, lead Mackenzie Elias, and alternate Taylor McDonald — and has made the best of it. 

“Obviously, they’re a great team,” said Cameron. “They had a wonderful four seasons. We knew we had to play them at some point this week. We were a little nervous to play them now in a do-or-die . . . but we knew whether it was today, tomorrow or Sunday we would have to play them. We came out really strong in the second half and that paid off. 

“We’re feeling really good right now. We’re playing relaxed and just sticking to one end at a time and hoping it goes the right way.” 

Cameron understands she’s still the underdog going forward. 

“That’s where we want to be. We don’t want the buzz around us. We’re here now and we have to do well, but all week being able to play our game and not having to worry about all that other stuff was really nice for us. It’s a surreal right now.” 

Team Alberta continued to impress with its win Friday over a talented and experienced team skipped by two-time Olympic gold-medal winning Lawes. The game was never in doubt as the Albertans rolled up a 6-1 lead after five ends and never looked back. 

“It (advancing) means everything,” said Sturmay. “This morning’s game was not our strongest so really proud how the team bounced back. We needed to make a lot more shots, which was the difference. 

“We are a new team but we are a good team and capable of winning this whole thing.” 

Curling Canada Govenor Teri Palyncuk (left) presents the Marj Mitchell Sportsmanship Award to Danielle Inglis, skip of Team Ontario-Inglis. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

The final goes Sunday, Feb. 25. 

In award news from the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the winner of the Marj Mitchell Sportsmanship Award is Team Ontario-Inglis skip Danielle Inglis, who was presented the award prior to Friday evening’s matches. The award is a player-voted accolade which honours the memory of 1980 world champion Marj Mitchell, who lost her battle with cancer in 1983. 

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