PICTOU COUNTY, N.S. — Team Kerri Einarson got out to a solid start in their opening game of the KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge.
The No. 1 ranked club in the world from Gimli, Man., shot 91 per cent during their 7-5 victory over reigning Scotties Tournament of Hearts champions Team Chelsea Carey of Calgary in Draw 4 round-robin action Wednesday.
Einarson scored three pairs of deuces and finished things off with a sharp draw to the four-foot circle on the final rock of the game while facing a couple of counters.
“It always feels nice to come out with a good, solid game and come out with a W at the end,” Einarson said. “I had to make a really good one on my last. Chelsea really put the pressure on there and it was nice to make that draw to the four-foot.”
Einarson, who captured the Players’ Championship last season, added it’s amazing to enter the event at the top of the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit.
“I’ve never been No. 1 in the world, so it’s really an accomplishment and we’re all so tight in the running for it,” she said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
Elsewhere in Draw 4, Team Nina Roth of the United States also opened in the win column defeating Team Tracy Fleury from East St. Paul, Man., 5-2. Roth is away on maternity leave and Tabitha Peterson has moved up from third to skip.
Fleury, who won her first GSOC title at the Masters two weeks ago, went level on the day at 1-1 with a 6-3 win over Sweden’s Team Isabella Wrana in the morning draw.
Reigning Olympic gold medallists Team Anna Hasselborg of Sweden went 2-0 on the day following a 4-3 extra-end win over Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta. Scheidegger is out of the lineup as she’s expecting her second child. Amber Holland is subbing at skip.
In men’s play, it was a good day at the office for Team Brendan Bottcher. The Edmonton squad capped a two-win Wednesday with a 9-4 victory over Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in rematch — but not a repeat — of last year’s men’s final.
Bottcher won the final three Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events last season, but his quest to capture a fourth straight title came to an end in the Masters quarterfinals against Brad Gushue in North Bay, Ont.
“I thought we played well in North Bay,” Bottcher said. “We came up against a pretty hot Gushue team in the quarterfinals and it was tough playing him right after we played him in our last round-robin game.
“It was nice. We had a good week off, we did some practise and now to come out here and keep the momentum going was good.”
Team Bottcher trailed 3-2 at the break and found their rhythm in the second half scoring three in the fifth and four in the seventh while holding Jacobs to just a single in the sixth.
Bottcher said the key was getting their feet under them early and making sure they had “a really good feel for everything.”
“In the second half, we made a lot of really precise shots and I think that’s what it came down to,” he said. “We had a really good awareness of what was going on out there.”
Bottcher beat Team Matt Dunstone 7-5 during the morning draw, but the Masters men’s champions recovered from their morning loss big time by thumping Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller 8-1.
The game was tied after three and Dunstone rolled away from there scoring four in the fourth and stealing three in the fifth for early handshakes.
The Tier 1 divisions, featuring 15 of the top teams from around the globe based on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit, are split into three pools for round-robin play with the top eight overall qualifying for the weekend playoffs.
The Tier 2 divisions consist of 16 teams including the next 10 ranked teams on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit and six teams from within the event’s region.
Tier 2 Results
Round-robin action continues Wednesday at 8 p.m. AT at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
The KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge is the second of six events on the 2019-20 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling schedule. … Winners of the Tier 1 divisions earn $30,000 and berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup. … Also up for grabs in the Tier 1 only are Pinty’s Cup bonus points. The leaders following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship in April will capture the Pinty’s Cup with additional prize money awarded. … Winners of the Tier 2 divisions earn $10,000 and promotions to face the world’s best at the 2020 Meridian Canadian Open.