Tirinzoni tops Einarson to win GSOC Champions Cup women’s title

Watch as Team Einarson's third Val Sweeting somehow squeezes through the narrow port of guards and hits to land shot rock.

SASKATOON — Team Silvana Tirinzoni closed out the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season capturing the Humpty’s Champions Cup women’s title.

The reigning world champions from Switzerland scored a 6-3 victory over Team Kerri Einarson in Sunday’s final at Merlis Belsher Place.

It also proved to be the third time as the charm for the foursome of Tirinzoni, fourth Alina Paetz, second Esther Neuenschwander and lead Melanie Barbezat as they competed in their third Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling final of 2018-19, their first season together.

“We didn’t play very well last Slam so this was a great recovery and a great finish to a great season,” said Tirinoni, who missed the playoffs with a 1-4 record in the Players’ Championship two weeks ago. “You almost don’t know what to say. It’s been such an amazing first season with that team. I’m really, really happy.”

Tirinzoni banked $40,000 of the $250,000 total purse plus a berth into the Humpty’s Champions Cup next season to defend the title.

While Neuenschwander and Tirinzoni, who shifted to throwing third stones while still skipping this season, won the inaugural Tour Challenge in 2015, this was the first championship in the series for new additions Paetz and Barbezat, who both previously skipped their own teams.

“It feels great,” Paetz said. “I’ve worked so hard for this and the whole team, we’ve worked so hard and had such a great season. Lost two Grand Slam finals before, so I’m very happy.”

Team Tirinzoni kicked off the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season finishing runner-up at the Princess Auto Elite 10 in September and also came in second place at the Meridian Canadian Open in January.

“It’s like hard to believe, actually, that it worked so fast,” Tirinzoni said. “Also, we played different positions, so I was thinking we’d need some more time to adjust but it has been a great start at the beginning of the season already and we were able to actually finish it off on a high, so really, really proud of the team.”

“We didn’t expect to be like that so yeah, it’s crazy but I think we really deserved it,” Paetz added. “We worked so hard, especially last summer before the season, so it’s special feelings.”

The tight battle was tied 2-2 at the fourth-end break with just singles back and forth. After Einarson missed in the fifth end by rubbing and rolling off of a guard, Paetz capitalized with an open draw for a deuce.

That pair of points proved to be the difference-maker on the scoreboard as Einarson was unable to match in six. Einarson sat shot rock on top of a Tirinzoni stone and looked to make the double bump but her shooter rolled too far and just counted a single.

Paetz hit for another point in seven as Tirinzoni led by two without the hammer coming home.

Einarson was in an identical situation the night before in the semifinals against Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg and pulled it off then but couldn’t repeat the feat here. She looked to make a runback double to possibly win the game but only connected with one counter.

Tirinzoni credits Paetz, who also made a great triple takeout in the second to bail her team out of trouble, as the key to the victory.

“She played amazing,” Tirinzoni said. “When you have one behind you making everything, it’s hard to lose, so she was amazing today again.”

Paetz added, “I just try to make every shot as best as I can and it seems like I’m doing a good job in close games and in important games. Hope I can keep it up.”

The crew of Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur have also had a sensational first year together, especially with three former skips playing new positions. Team Einarson has competed in 10 finals winning four consecutive World Curling Tour events at the start of the season plus the Players’ Championship.

Earlier Sunday, Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher clipped Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe 6-5 for the men’s title and a third consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championship.

Notes: The Humpty’s Champions Cup was the seventh and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the season. Teams had to win a top tour event in order to qualify for the event. … A new rule was being tested at the event where teams could not perform tick shots on rocks sitting on the centre line during the eighth and extra ends. … The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling returns in the fall with the Canadian Beef Masters, Oct. 22-27, taking place at Memorial Gardens in North Bay, Ont.

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