CAMROSE, Alta. — There’s consistency and then there’s the reach-six-straight-Grand-Slam-finals consistency of Team Kerri Einarson.
The Gimli, Man., club became the first team to advance to a sixth consecutive women’s final in the series after defeating Sweden’s Team Isabella Wranå 8-2 during Saturday night’s semifinals of the Co-op Canadian Open.
“It feels pretty amazing,” Einarson said. “We’ve put a lot of hard work into our game. Consistency is a thing for us. That was one of our goals that we had set, just being consistent throughout the year and getting ourselves into as many finals as possible.”
Einarson, who has won five Grand Slam titles, will play Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa in Sunday’s championship game. Fujisawa made it to her first-ever Grand Slam final with a 7-6 win over Team Eun-Ji Gim of South Korea.
Team Einarson faced elimination all day having to first defeat Switzerland’s Team Raphaela Keiser 13-4 in the morning C-qualifier draw just to get into the playoffs and also beat Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan 7-2 in the afternoon quarterfinals.
“It’s definitely been a grind. It’s been a long week. We love curling,” Einarson said with a laugh. “We love playing those extra games, but when our backs are against the wall, we come out and we perform. The girls have been playing phenomenally all week. They’re definitely making my job easy.”
Einarson is also aiming to become just the second women’s skip — after Anna Hasselborg — to complete the career Grand Slam as the Co-op Canadian Open is the last of the “original four” majors missing from her resume.
Although Einarson didn’t start with the hammer, her team struck the scoreboard first as Wranå’s last shot in the opening frame just grazed the shot rock counter to give up a steal.
The force was strong with the game tied 2-2 thanks to duelling singles, but Einarson controlled the match down the stretch taking two and the lead in the sixth. It was a bit of a missed opportunity as Einarson’s shooter rolled out, however, Wranå wrecked on a guard with her last in the seventh to concede a game-breaking steal of four points and out came the handshakes.
Despite the gruelling grind, Team Einarson had plenty left in the tank as they shot 92 per cent in the semifinals with the skip leading the way firing at 96 per cent.
“The first end was very scary. We were looking at giving up two or three but we got a little fortunate on a couple,” Einarson said. “After that, we took a bit of a breather, kind of learned our lesson, just played the scoreboard a bit and made some shots.”
Meanwhile, Calgary’s Team Brendan Bottcher will clash with Team Niklas Edin of Sweden in the men’s final.
Bottcher scored a walk-off 3-2 measurement victory over Team Joël Retornaz from Italy and Edin stymied Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., 8-5.
Edin is playing in his first event since going down with a knee injury while warming up for the HearingLife Tour Challenge semifinals in late October.
After undergoing surgery and recovering, it’s safe to say the king is back. The reigning Olympic and world champion might not feel 100 per cent, but he’s playing close to it shooting a team-high 91 per cent against Gushue.
“It was really an unfortunate injury in the middle of the season,” said Edin, whose team carried on without him to win their fourth Grand Slam title at the HearingLife Tour Challenge. “I’ve never really had one like that before. I’ve had many injuries but this one felt a little extra bad to get it in the middle of the season. We had started so well and then before a semifinal in a Slam, it was so unexpected as well.
“Mentally, it was really, really nice that I felt that I could play this one. I never thought I would be back close to 100 per cent. It felt like I would try and otherwise, the team would play on with three players, so this is a huge bonus I can actually play close to what I do normally. It’s a super nice feeling.”
Edin converted for a deuce in the second and stole one in the third when the 14-time Grand Slam champion Gushue rolled deep on his last.
Never give up on Gushue, who recovered right back with a nose hit to spring Edin’s counter loose and tie it 3-all in the fourth. However, Edin matched with a trey of his own in five on a draw that made it 6-3.
The teams traded twos in six and seven. Gushue held the hammer for the final frame, but Edin ran him out of rocks before he could throw his last shot.
“I felt that we controlled most ends but then we messed it up in a couple of ends,” Edin said. “I think both teams gave away a couple of multiple scores with bad timing, so we were kind of lucky to have the upper hand to be able to give away the points just to be even. When we scored big, we went ahead instead, so that’s a big difference.
“We simply just got the better start of the game, played a little bit more solidly in the first half of the game and that turned out to be enough in the end.”
Tickets are available at the Encana Arena box office or online at camrosegsoc.goigniter.com.