CHATHAM-KENT, Ont. — Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg needed to grind it out in order to keep her perfect record intact at the Princess Auto Elite 10.
The reigning Olympic gold medallist was already guaranteed a bye to the semifinals but showed sharp resiliency battling back late to beat Ottawa’s Rachel Homan 1 UP Friday during the final women’s round-robin draw at Thames Campus Arena.
Match play rules are in effect at the season-opening Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event where teams compete to win the most ends per game similar to a skins game only without carryovers. Points are scored by either counting two or more rocks (with the hammer) or stealing at least one rock (without the hammer). If the game is tied after eight ends, a draw-to-the-button shootout will determine the winner.
Hasselborg also beat American Nina Roth 2-Up in the previous draw and earned a much-needed coffee break (it’s “fika” time in Swedish) until Saturday evening’s semifinals.
“It feels amazing but right now we’re pretty tired,” Team Hasselborg third Sara McManus said. “It’s back-to-back and skins is kind of new to us. We only played it at the Continental Cup but it’s super fun and we’re super proud.”
Teams earn three points for a regulation win, two points for a shootout win, one point for a shootout loss and zero points for a regulation loss.
Hasselborg was down by two after five ends and turned up the jets claiming the sixth end and stealing seven and eight to finish round-robin play at 4-0-0-0 and the maximum 12 points.
“We really had to fight out there to try to get some momentum,” McManus said. “They played really good and they know how to play skins, obviously, but it was a really nice ending to the game.”
Hasselborg opened the scoring in the second end with soft hit and roll tap to bump one Homan stone and nudge the other just enough to count a couple after a measurement determined it was all good. Homan took control in the third end sitting three and not needing to throw her last as Hasselborg came up short on her shot.
Homan stole consecutive ends in four and five as Hasselborg fell into chase mode but managed to right the ship down the stretch. Hasselborg sat shot rock prior to her last in six and her draw for two and the end hit the brakes at the back of the four-foot circle just in time.
The seven-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title winner Homan was short on her draw shot in seven to give up a steal and make things all square heading into the final frame. Homan needed to make a hit with the final shot of the game but whiffed with her rock sailing through the house untouched.
Homan (1-1-0-2, five points) still qualified for the quarterfinals and will take on Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., who defeated American Jamie Sinclair 3-and-1. Scheidegger went 2-0-1-1 (seven points) in round-robin play while Sinclair (1-0-0-3, three points) was eliminated from contention.
“It’s awesome,” Scheidegger said. “I think it’s really exciting. We were really excited to get the opportunity to play in the Elite 10 just for sort of like a history thing, the first one for the women. We’re really excited that we were able to qualify here too.”
Scheidegger fell to Homan in a shootout during the previous draw and is looking forward to the rematch.
“We struggled a little bit in those middle two games,” Scheidegger said. “I think coming out even with a point against Homan was really good for us. We played well, not well enough to win the whole thing obviously, but it sort of kept us pumped for the Sinclair game.”
Meanwhile, Jennifer Jones took the second semifinal bye following a shootout win over Tracy Fleury in an all-Winnipeg battle. The reigning world champion Jones (3-1-0-0) ended round-robin play with 11 points. Fleury (0-1-2-1) just missed the cut for the playoffs with four points.
Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland reached the playoffs with a 2-and-1 win over Edmonton’s Laura Walker. Tirinzoni (2-0-1-1) finished with seven points and will face off against Walker (1-1-0-2, five points) once more in the quarterfinals.
Edmonton’s Chelsea Carey and American Nina Roth (both three points) were eliminated from playoff contention earlier Friday.
The Princess Auto Elite 10 features three additional unique rules: Stopwatches are banned, tick shots cannot be performed on guards sitting on the centre line until the sixth rock of play, and teams have four minutes of thinking time per end.
NOTES: Winners of the Princess Auto Elite 10 earn $24,000 of the $200,000 prize purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup taking place April 23-28 in Saskatoon. … Points are also on the line for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the season champions in the series with a $75,000 bonus for the winners.