PICTOU COUNTY, N.S. — Kerri Einarson and her world No. 1 ranked team are hitting their stride at the right time as they advanced to the KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge Tier 1 women’s semifinals.
Team Einarson ousted top seed Team Silvana Tirinzoni 6-5 during Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals.
The Gimli, Man., club shot an outstanding 95 per cent and only needed an open nose hit on their last to hand the reigning world champions from Switzerland their lone loss of the tournament.
“I think we’re really playing how we should be now and we just have to continue what we’re doing,” Team Einarson lead Briane Meilleur said. “Hopefully, the next game we’ll keep it up and come out with a win.”
Team Einarson dropped back-to-back games during pool play but have now won three straight including a 6-3 decision late Friday night over Team Robyn Silvernagle in a tiebreaker to qualify for the playoffs.
“We had some good momentum coming off yesterday’s two wins, so we wanted to keep that with this game,” Meilleur said. “We weren’t really too concerned with who we played. We just wanted to keep the same energy and same momentum going into whichever game we had to play next. I think we did that today and that was really great.”
Team Tirinzoni opened with the hammer but Team Einarson jumped out of the gate with the pressure and outplayed them up-and-down the lineup to steal points in the first few ends and build a 4-0 advantage.
A cluttered house with Einarson covering part of the button in the first forced Team Tirinzoni fourth Alina Paetz into a tough shot that bounced off but couldn’t roll in for shot rock. Paetz rolled deep on her last in the second to concede two more points and gave up another in the third when she was unable to navigate her shooter through a port while attempting a long angle raise.
Tirinzoni, who beat Einarson in last season’s Humpty’s Champions Cup final, settled for a single in four to get on the board and stole one in five to narrow the gap to 4-2. Einarson only counted a single in six and Tirinzoni erased the deficit in seven with Paetz playing an open hit to score the tying three.
They couldn’t complete the comeback, however, after Team Einarson second Shannon Birchard and third Val Sweeting fired doubles that cleaned things up nicely for their skip in the end.
“It was really crucial,” Meilleur said. “[Team Tirinzoni] started playing really well. They struggled a little bit at the beginning of the game but Silvana’s team played really great for the last half for sure.
“We had to be really sharp, make those big double peels, Shannon make a great one and then Val made a really nice one too with her double there. Just had to close it out and luckily, we did.”
Einarson will now take on Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa, who climbed into the semifinals of a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event for their first time after eliminating Masters champions Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., 6-4.
Team Nina Roth of the United States remain undefeated at 5-0 after edging Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones 6-5 in an extra end.
Roth is out of the lineup as she is expecting a baby and third Tabitha Peterson has slid up from third to skip in the in interim.
Team Roth now take on reigning Team Anna Hasselborg of Sweden. The reigning Olympic gold medallists moved onto the semifinals with a 7-3 win over Edmonton’s Team Kelsey Rocque.
Up next is the men’s quarterfinals (4:30 p.m. AT) with Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., vs. Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin; Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher vs. Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen; Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe vs. Team John Shuster of the U.S.; and Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., vs. Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont.
The semifinals are scheduled for the evening with both finals set for Sunday at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
Watch around-the-rings coverage of the men’s quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. AT / 3:30 a.m. ET on Sportsnet followed by the semifinals at 8:30 p.m. AT / 7:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet 360. Online streaming is available via Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
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 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.