PRINCE GEORGE, BC — Kerri Einarson’s foursome played a complete game as a team in the women’s world curling championship en route to a 10-4 win over Japan on Tuesday.
“That was our strongest team game,” second Shannon Birchard said. “Everyone was firing on all four cylinders. Everyone was really comfortable and we had a lot of control in that game.”
The victory pulled the host country even with Japan in the standings at 4-2. Canada faces Sweden (5-1) and will earn a win over Scotland by forfeit Wednesday.
After two losses, the Scots withdrew Sunday because four members of the team tested positive for COVID-19.
Defending champion Switzerland topped the standings at 6-0. South Korea was 5-0 with a game to play at night.
Denmark won a pair of extra-end games Tuesday to get to 4-2 alongside Canada, the United States and Japan.
Germany and Norway were both 2-4 ahead of the Czech Republic and Italy at 1-5, and winless Turkey.
The top six teams at the conclusion of the round robin on Friday advance to the playoff round.
The top two seeds earn byes to Saturday’s semifinals with third through sixth playing off that day to join them. The medal games are Sunday.
Einarson was 1-5 after six games in his world championship debut last year in Calgary’s curling bubble.
Einarson, third Val Sweeting, Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur—out of the Gimli Curling Club in Manitoba—won six of their last seven to make playoffs, but their position after the fourth day in Prince George, BC, felt less precarious.
“Every chance you get to wear the Maple Leaf on your back is a great opportunity to feel that pressure and then get used to that,” Einarson said. “I think we are used to that and we’re just really enjoying it out there.”
Canada split games Saturday and Sunday to open the championship, before doubling Denmark on Monday. Einarson missed shots early against the Danes, but run support from his lineup helped generate a victory.
The four Canadians were a model of efficiency against Japan scoring multi-point ends with hammer and holding Ikue Kitazawa to single points without it.
Einarson counted deuces in the second and fourth ends and three points in the eighth.
But while the Canadians outcurled their Japanese counterparts at every position, the hosts still led by just one point after seven ends.
A three-point eighth gave Canada complete control of the game, however. Sweeting’s raise double hit to lie two Canadian counters put pressure on Japan.
Kitazawa’s wide and heavy freeze attempt left Einarson a tap for three. Kitazawa conceded in the ninth end when her hit against three Canadian stones rolled wide.
A big triple peel by Birchard and Einarson’s wide double takeout in the seventh had left Kitazawa nothing but a draw for one.
Einarson wrecking on a guard with her first shot of the sixth left her a difficult draw around a guard for a piece of the button for a single point. The Canadian skip hit the bull’s-eye for a 5-3 lead.
“I thought we played really well and we knew that they were playing well coming into this so we just needed to put some pressure on them and just manage our rocks better,” Einarson said.
Sweeting had an up and down opening weekend, but Einarson’s vice posted a second straight game of shooting accuracy over 90 per cent.
“We’re just focused on getting on a roll at this point and stringing together a few wins,” Birchard said.
Einarson had husband Kyle and her twin daughters cheering her on at the CN Center on Tuesday.
Kamryn and Khloe wove red and white streamers and lights through their hair lit by battery packs atop their heads.
“They’re dressed to the nines,” their mom said. “It’s so nice to see their little faces in the crowd.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2022.