Zacharias, Hasselborg flip the script to hang on in Players’ Championship
TORONTO — Team Mackenzie Zacharias won their second consecutive game at the Princess Auto Players’ Championship to avoid an early exit from the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling major tournament.
After an 0-2 start, the Altona, Man., club slipped into the C side of the triple knockout with another loss leading to elimination.
Zacharias, who defeated Team Tabitha Peterson 6-1 Thursday, brought her team’s record level with a 6-4 victory over Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker during Draw 13 Friday morning at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Team Zacharias is now in the C-qualifiers happening Friday evening with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.
“It’s incredible, we’re thrilled,” said skip Mackenzie Zacharias, who represented Manitoba this year in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. “We had a rough go our first couple of games. We had a little bit of trouble figuring out the ice.
“We also haven’t really played since the Scotties, so it took us a bit to shake the rust off. We’re starting to get on a roll, so we’ll take that into the C-qualifier today and we’re pretty excited.”
It’s the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling debut for Zacharias, 22, who qualified for the 2020 Humpty’s Champions Cup after winning the world junior championship before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her team earned a spot in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship as one of the top 16 ranked teams this season.
“Getting the opportunity to play in any Slam is just amazing, especially at a young age coming out of juniors,” Zacharias said. “After we won that world championship, that was our next stepping stone into women’s. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen due to COVID, which is completely understandable.
“Now being able to get this opportunity to play in a Slam a year-and-a-half later or two years later now I think it’s been — crazy how time flies — we’re just super thrilled and super excited that we were able to work our way up into the top 16 in the world. That in itself was a feat to accomplish, so now that we’re here we’re hoping we can stay in these ranks and hopefully we’ll be in a few more Slams next year.”
After Walker opened with the hammer and converted for a deuce in the second, Zacharias counted three in the fourth to jump into the lead. Walker added another two points in the fifth, but Zacharias matched right back counting a couple of her own in the sixth and then stole a point in the seventh to build a three-point hold heading into the final frame.
Although Walker held the hammer home, she conceded the game before throwing her last rock with no shot to score the equalizing two points.
It was the final game for Team Walker, who now plan to part ways with the skip stepping back to focus on mixed doubles.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg also flipped the script from 0-2 to 2-2 following a 7-3 win over Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones.
The triple knockout consists of three brackets: A, B and C. Teams must win three games in order to qualify for the playoffs. Each loss drops a team to a lower bracket until they lose three games and are out of the tournament. Two A teams (3-0 records), three B teams (3-1 records) and three C teams (3-2 records) advance to the quarterfinals.
Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni and Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., qualified A-side in the women’s division Thursday night while Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat and Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin went undefeated 3-0 through the men’s division.
Elsewhere, Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Regina’s Team Matt Dunstone moved onto the men’s C-qualifiers.
Jacobs scored five in the first and added deuces in the third and fifth ends to bounce Toronto’s Team John Epping 9-3 while Dunstone counted three in the first, stole one in the second and two in the third during an 8-2 rout over Team Marco Hoesli of Switzerland.
The Princess Auto Players’ Championship continues with Draw 14 at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
Tickets are available at the box office and online at thegrandslamofcurling.com/tickets.
The Princess Auto Players’ Championship is the third event of the 2021-22 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world with a combined $350,000 prize purse. Winning teams earn $35,000. … The Pinty’s Cup will also be awarded to the season champions following the conclusion of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship. Winners of the Pinty’s Cup receive $50,000 bonuses. … The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Saturday with both finals set for Sunday.