A third successive loss left Canada’s Kerri Einarson on the verge of defeat after the opening weekend of round-robin play at the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship.
While the completion is still at the early stages, a podium appearance is now unlikely after the team’s most recent loss, a 7-6 decision to the U.s in a game where Einarson threw an awful 54%.
“I’m a little disappointed in myself,” Einarson said. “I wasn’t very sharp out there. I had some opportunities that I missed. My girls played well and I just missed a few key shots.”
Normally a strong opponent at major curling events, Canada struggled to a 1-4 record at the Markin MacPhail Centre. Einarson, who was off for the evening draw, was in a three-way tie for 11th place in the 14-team field, in front of just curling minnow Estonia.
A major turnaround will be needed just to make the top-six cut for the playoffs. The same cutline will be used to determine country berths for next year’s Beijing Olympics.
Einarson said she is trying to remain positive and learn as she goes, but her confidence seemed sapped on a post-game video conference with reporters. The emotional effect was evident, her voice cracking at times.
“It’s mentally draining,” she said. “It’s a long week.”
“I would say we’ve got eight more to go and we’re going to build on it,” ever-optimistic coach Heather Nedohin quickly added.
Canada has little breathing room as it appears ahead and difficult matchups are still to come.
Meanwhile, Olympic silver medallist EunJung Kim of South Korea is on tap Monday and former world champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland is up on Tuesday.
Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur are already approaching the must-win region.
“This is our first time being on the world stage and being put in this position,” Einarson said. “I know that we’re a great team and we fight to the bitter end.
“We’ll continue doing that (while) wearing this Maple Leaf with pride.”
The U.S team had their struggles in between the competition but assumed control late in the game. Einarson flashed a stone in the fourth end and wrecked on a guard in the fifth to miss out on several points.
American skip Tabitha Peterson made a decent pick to score a deuce in the 8th end for a 7-3 lead. Einarson rebounded with a pair in the 9th but the U.S completed the win a takeout of the second shot in the 10th end.
“The girls are giving everything they’ve got,” Nedohin said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t turn out on the scoreboard to the way they’re playing with passion.”
Sweeting almost saved ends a few times and the Canadian front end was steady too. Like Einarson, Peterson did struggle too, shooting only 55% herself, though Einarson made just half of her draws and never had a consistent rhythm.
Up next is a morning game versus a shorthanded German side led by Daniela Jentsch. The South Korea matchup is scheduled for the afternoon.
“They’re going to win the next one and then they’re going to keep climbing,” Nedohin said. “I want to know that they believe they can, and they will.”
The morning draw was postponed Sunday and the games later resumed without TV coverage after members of the event’s broadcast staff tested positive for COVID-19.
No broadcast until Tuesday at the earliest
In an email to The Canadian Press, World Curling Federation media head Christopher Hamilton confirmed there were four positive cases. No additional details or names were given.
The persons were isolated in their hotel whereas additional testing and contract tracing takes place, the WCF said in its statement. The individuals are staying in a different hotel than athletes and competition officials.
The WCF said that all planned testing for athletes and competition officials tested negative. The arena was given a deep clean and start times for the afternoon and evening draws were pushed back for half an hour.
In other afternoon games, Russia’s Alina Kovaleva extended her unbeaten streak to 5-0 with an 8-6 victory over Estonia’s Marie Turmann. South Korea beat Scotland 8-4 and Italy’s Stefania Constantini defeated Germany 10-6.
Defending champion Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland and reigning Olympic champion Anna Hasselborg of Sweden remained unbeaten at 3-0. Scotland was alone in 4th place at 3-1 whereas the U.S improved to 3-2.
TV broadcasts will continue no earlier than Tuesday afternoon. The competition is part of TSN’s Season of Champions coverage and is broadcast internationally by World Curling TV.
“Thanks for the good wishes,” TSN broadcaster Vic Rauter said on Twitter. “We are quarantined, tested, cared for, hope to be back Tuesday, take care of yourselves and each other.”
Earlier in the week, organizers canceled the opening practice sessions after two members of the German side tested positive for COVID-19 in pre-tournament screening upon arrival in Calgary.
Practice sessions were at long last held Thursday on the eve of round-robin play. The German side was given an exemption to finishing as a three-player team whereas players who tested positive stayed in isolation.
This year’s women’s championship, which was relocated from Switzerland due to the pandemic, is the 7th and final curling event to be held in the spectator-free controlled environment.
The Canadian women’s, men’s and mixed doubles competitions were followed by the men’s world competition plus a pair of Grand Slam events.
The men’s world championship playoffs were interrupted by four players returning positive COVID-19 results. The championship was completed April 11, though, with the WCF stating the cases were “false positives.”
Those affected tested negative in subsequent screenings.
Teams are closed to the arena and the tournament hotel across the Trans-Canada Highway. They drive themselves back and forth and masks are compulsory once athletes leave the field of play.
Organizers have yet to determine when the postponed draw will take place. Playoff games are set to kick off Friday night and the medal games are planned for May 9.
Jennifer Jones was the last Canadian skip to claim the top prize of this event, taking gold in 2018 at North Bay, Ontario. Chelsea Carey skipped the Canadian entry the following year at Silkeborg, Denmark, but did not qualify for the playoffs.