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Einarson posts a win and a loss on first day of women's world curling championship

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — Canada's Kerri Einarson ran hot and cold at the women's world curling championship Saturday to emerge with a 1-1 record on opening day. The host country fell 6-4 to Norway after dominating Italy 9-2.
Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson watches her rock during the first draw of the Women's World Curling at CN Centre in Prince George, BC., on Saturday, March 19, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Brent Braaten

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — Canada's Kerri Einarson ran hot and cold at the women's world curling championship Saturday to emerge with a 1-1 record on opening day.

The host country fell 6-4 to Norway after dominating Italy 9-2. The Canadians take on newcomer Turkey and defending champion Switzerland on Sunday.

Led by Einarson's mastery of draw weight, Canada stole seven points against the Italians, who conceded after the sixth end. 

Einarson and third Val Sweeting weren't as sharp drawing or hitting against the Norwegians, who stole three points over the first two ends and stole another in the sixth to lead 5-2.

"Just a little bit of overthrowing tonight," Einarson said. "I think we'll talk about it. There's some shots we'd like to cover over I'm sure. We're 1-1 first day and it's going to be a grind all week."

Canada faced mixed doubles specialists in both games Saturday. 

Italian skip Stefania Constantini won Olympic gold in Beijing last month with Amos Mosaner.

Kristin Skaslien, who throws fourth stones for Norwegian skip Marianne Roervik, and teammate Magnus Nedregotten lost to the Italians in that final in Beijing.

Einarson shot 96 per cent against Italy and her team was 88 per cent overall. 

The Canadian skip made 95 per cent of her draws in the first game, but was only 60 per cent on the draw in the evening draw compared to Skaslien's 94.

Sweeting was outcurled positionally by Roervik throwing third stones 78 per cent to 65.

Canada scored one point in the seventh and stole another in the eighth to make up ground on the Norwegians, but couldn't generate a multi-point end coming home.

"There's no reason to get worried after this game," second Shannon Birchard said. "We battled back and did what we could and it's a new tomorrow."

The top six teams among 13 at the conclusion of the round robin Friday advance to next Saturday's playoffs, followed by Sunday's medal games.

Canada's game Sunday evening against Switzerland is an important one as Silvana Tirinzoni is the back-to-back world champion attempting to complete a hat trick in Prince George.

Einarson was also 1-1 after the first day of the 2021 world championship in Calgary. 

The Canadians then lost four in a row, but climbed out of that hole into the six-team playoff by winning six of their last seven. Canada fell short of the semifinals in Calgary, however.

"We definitely feel like we're a different team," Einarson said. "We're a little more relaxed and maybe not as uptight."

Fans physically in a curling arena has been rare in Canada for the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When Einarson, Sweeting, Birchard and Brianne Meilleur won a third straight national championship Feb. 6, only volunteers and some junior curlers were allowed into Thunder Bay's building on the final weekend to see it.

Einarson and company competed in the world championship in Calgary's curling bubble without spectators last year. 

The Gimli Curling Club team from Manitoba had arrived in Prince George for the 2020 world championship only for it to be abruptly called off because of the pandemic.

Einarson played in front of fans at November's curling trials in Saskatoon. The Canadian men's championship that concluded Sunday in Lethbridge, Alta., had no capacity limits.

But wearing the Maple Leaf in a building where the majority of spectators are pro-Canada had felt like a long time coming for Einarson. 

While each of Saturday's draws at the CN Centre drew less than 2,000 spectators in a building that holds almost 6,000, the Canadian skip relished the audience's loud reactions to her team's shots.

"Getting that and feeding off that is something we've missed," Einarson said. "I stepped on the ice and just instantly got goosebumps and my family, I looked up and they're right behind us."

Norway, which lost in an extra end to South Korea earlier Saturday, was also 1-1 alongside Canada. 

Sweden, the United States, Japan, Denmark and the Swiss joined the South Koreans at 1-0 after the first day.

The Czech Republic, Scotland, Germany and Italy were 0-1 and the Turks 0-2. 

The Scots played with three players in a 12-1 loss to the Swiss. Scotland awaits the arrival of a reinforcement player Sunday. 

Skip Rebecca Morrison and alternate Fay Henderson tested positive for COVID-19. Morrison believes she will rejoin her team later in the tournament.

Sweden's Anna Hasselborg won an Olympic bronze women's team medal Beijing, where a limited number of Chinese spectators were allowed into venues.

The Swedish skip felt her team shed some post-Olympic fatigue in Saturday's atmosphere.

"Stepping out on the ice here today, and it was like people in the stands, people that applaud you, and all the feelings just got back to me and love for the game," Hasselborg said.

"I think it's amazing to see people out there cheering for you and cheering good shots. Even though they were super-much celebrating Canada, it doesn't matter as long as there's noise."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2022.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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