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Italy’s Constantini looking to follow Retornaz’s footsteps at Grand Slams

CAMROSE, Alta. — Joël Retornaz made history last month in the WFG Masters when he skipped the first Italian team to a men’s title in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling. Now, Stefania Constantini is aiming to do the same in the women’s division.

Constantini and her squad from Cortina d’Ampezzo are making their series debut this week during the Co-op Canadian Open.

After losing their first two games to fall into the C-side of the triple knockout preliminary round, Constantini claimed her first victory defeating Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., 6-5 in an extra end Thursday.

“It’s great being here,” said Constantini, who entered the Co-op Canadian Open as the lucky No. 13 seed. “It’s high-level curling and we are really enjoying the time here because we are playing really good games and good curling.”

“We went really hard to try to win this game because it was our last chance,” she added. “Maybe the first three ends were a little bit up and down, also for me, and then we really refocused, and we brought the game to the end. We are so happy.”

As if the pressure of elimination on the line wasn’t enough, Constantini had to draw against a tricky trio of Scheidegger stones in the extra end. Constantini pulled it off landing right at the side of the four-foot circle.

“I like it,” Constantini said with a smile. “I like to throw with that adrenaline and it’s really cool when the throw is OK. It’s amazing.”

Constantini, 23, has already made her mark in mixed doubles capturing Olympic gold with Amos Mosaner last year at the Beijing Winter Games. Youth is served on her women’s team featuring Marta Lo Deserto, 20, at third, Angela Romei, 25, at second and Giulia Zardini Lacedlli, who turns 20 later this month, at lead.

“In Italy, curling is really growing,” Constantini said. “We are not so many (in numbers) but we are really improving our curling. Now the team of Joël Retornaz is doing great and they’re really high level; we as a women’s team are trying to reach their level. We’re young, so we’re trying to grow as a team, and maybe we are doing it.”

This quadrennial is crucial for Constantini as not only is Italy set to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games, but her hometown of Cortina is where curling will be played.

“It’s really important,” Constantini said. “We have to grow during these three, four seasons to try to arrive at the Olympics.”

It’s one step at a time to keep pace with Retornaz, and Constantini has now taken a leap in proving her team belongs on the Grand Slam stage.