Canada’s Einarson wins third straight beating Sweden in women’s world curling

From left, Canada lead Briane Meilleur, second Shannon Birchard, and skip Kerri Einarson sweep in front of a stone against Sweden at the Women's World Curling Championship in Prince George, B.C., on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (James Doyle/CP)

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — Canada’s Kerri Einarson cleared a tall hurdle in her bid for a women’s world curling championship with a 10-8 win over Sweden on Wednesday.

Anna Hasselborg’s Swedish foursome won Olympic gold in 2018, bronze last month in Beijing and was twice a world runner-up.

So the host country’s victory over a team ranked third in the world was a massive assist in Einarson’s quest for a playoff berth.

“They’re one of the best in the world, so that was a huge win for us and huge confidence-booster going forward,” Einarson said.

Canada’s record was 6-2 by day’s end because of a win forfeited by Scotland. After two losses, the Scots withdrew Sunday because four players tested positive for COVID-19.

The top six teams at the conclusion of the preliminary round Friday advance to playoffs.

The top two get byes to Saturday’s semifinals with third through sixth playing off that day to join them. The medal games are Sunday.

Defending champion Switzerland topped the standings at 8-0 with one draw remaining Wednesday.

South Korea was 6-1 and the Swedes 6-2 with the two countries clashing in the evening.

Denmark, the United States and Japan were tied at 5-3 ahead of Germany and Norway both at 4-4.

The Czech Republic was 1-6, Italy 1-7 and Turkey winless in seven games.

Canada led 5-0 after three ends and 8-2 after five against the Swedes, but Hasselborg wouldn’t go quietly and scrapped her way to a 10th end.

With the hammer coming home, Einarson didn’t need to throw her final stone when Hasselborg came up light on a draw.

“We definitely had to play well to beat them,” Canadian lead Briane Meilleur said. “They played really great in the last half, so I’m glad we hung on there.

“It was good to have a little lead to start just to have a little buffer.”

Each team throws two pre-game draws to the button, which are measured to not only determine which team gets hammer in the first end.

Instead of tiebreaker games, accumulated measurements also determine seedings should teams be tied Friday.

A measurement mistake on Hasselborg’s pre-game draw initially indicated she was closer to the button’s centre pinhole than Einarson.

The Swedish skip knew she wasn’t and didn’t contest Einarson earning hammer.

But Hasselborg wasn’t satisfied with a remeasurement done using officials’ charts and video to determine where her rock ended up in the rings, and asked for another following the game.

“They measured it wrong from the beginning. We didn’t have the 14.4 centimetres that was up on the scoreboard, but they kicked (the stone) off and they had to remeasure where they thought it was,” she explained. “We were not happy with that placement.

“Since LSD (last-stone draw) is so important here, we don’t want to lose any centimetres that were wrong.”

Even though Canada didn’t play Scotland later, they still had to show up and throw their pre-game draws before a 30-minute practice.

“The draw to the button matters big-time in this championship,” Canadian coach Reid Carruthers pointed out.

Hammer in the first end was pivotal in Canada’s victory. Einarson scored three playing an artistic split.

The split is a finesse shot of tapping your own stone into the rings while rolling your own shooter in to score as well.

“Just bringing your weight down a little bit and making that split, they’re big shots,” the Canadian skip said. “For sure that set the tone for the game.”

Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and Meilleur made the most of Sweden’s early misses stealing singles in the second and third ends and another three-pointer in the fifth.

“I was not feeling comfortable yet, until the game was over,” Einarson said.

The team out of Manitoba’s Gimli Curling Club generated momentum, however, with a third straight win. Sweeting posted over 90 per cent shooting accuracy in a third straight game.

Canada’s game was on an outside sheet at the CN Centre. The majority of the 1,500 spectators were in the seats above it knowing how important the game was to the home team’s fortunes.

“It’s great to have an electric crowd like that,” Meilleur said. “So it was really fun to play out there with all those cheers and hopefully they keep it up.”

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