June 25th, 2024

Jones, Einarson poised to make Canadian women’s curling history

By Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press on February 26, 2023.

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson delivers a rock while playing Northern Ontario during the semifinal at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Kamloops, B.C., on Sunday, February 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

KAMLOOPS – History was going to be made at the Canadian women’s curling championship Sunday. It was a matter of what kind.

Kerri Einarson beating Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville 7-5 in the afternoon semifinal kept Einarson’s bid for a four-peat in play.

The defending champions advanced to the evening final against Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones with that skip chasing a record of her own in Kamloops, B.C.

Einarson’s team was a win away from becoming just the second to win four straight Scotties Tournament of Hearts after Colleen Jones between 2001 and 2004.

Jones was a win away from becoming the first woman to claim seven Canadian championships.

Einarson’s victory over McCarville made for a Manitoba matchup in the final, with Einarson of Gimli, Man., taking on a Winnipeg-based team for the title.

“Feels pretty amazing,” Einarson said. “We’ve worked extremely hard to get here all week. To come out with a good game with that, and we can even push it up a few notches because we’re going to need to against Team Manitoba.”

The semifinal was a rematch of last year’s championship game in Thunder Bay, Ont. Einarson beat McCarville in her hometown to win a third straight Hearts in 2022.

McCarville is a perennial playoff team in the Canadian championship, but the skip and her teammates are looking for their first title after eight years together.

“Once again close, but not quite there,” McCarville said. “Proud of the team for battling and working this hard and getting to the final day again in the Scotties, but of course very disappointing.

“One day we’re going to win. We just don’t know when.”

While Einarson struggled with her draw weight in the semifinal, she was bolstered by teammates Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Harris far outcurling their Northern Ontario rivals Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala and Sarah Potts.

Up one point coming home with hammer, Einarson’s big weight on her final throw cleared the rings of two Northern Ontario counters.

McCarville didn’t generate a two-point end and rarely had a high percentage chance to score a deuce.

“When you’re playing great teams like Jones and Einarson, a hair short or a hair deep is the difference with them,” McCarville said.

With full-time jobs and young children, McCarville’s team limits its tour travel.

They try to compensate with a lot of practice and flying Lilly in from Sudbury for training. Playing in more events in a season isn’t an option, the skip said.

“We’d have to really dial down with our jobs and that’s something we’re not willing to do right now,” McCarville said. “It would be easier if we could play some more (events) around us that didn’t involve taking as much time off work.

“Being from Thunder Bay, it’s a lot of time off work to even fly to Toronto.”

Einarson’s first loss of the tournament in Kamloops was to Jones in a Friday playoff game. Einarson spotted Jones a 4-0 lead after two ends and fell 8-6.

“Just don’t give up a four-ender early,” Einarson said with a laugh.

The final’s winner represents Canada in the women’s world championship in Sweden later this month and returns to the 2024 Tournament of Hearts in Calgary wearing the Maple Leaf as defending champions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2023.

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