Manitoba’s Team Einarson beats China to improve playoff chances at world curling playdowns

Canada’s Kerri Einarson defeated China’s Yu Han 6-4 on Friday morning to improve her chances of reaching the weekend playoffs at the world women’s curling championship.

Einarson moved into a tie for fifth place with the win after finishing her round-robin schedule with a 7-6 record. The top six teams will make the playoffs and earn berths for their countries at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“It’s totally up in the air,” Einarson said. “I can’t control what the other teams do out on the ice. I’ve just got to hope and pray that we’ve got a chance.”

The playoff picture at the 14-team event will become clearer later in the day. Afternoon and evening draws were on the schedule at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre.

Canada will advance if Switzerland beats Germany in the afternoon draw, the World Curling Federation said.

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Read more: Einarson extends win streak to 4 games at world curling playdowns in Calgary

Tiebreaker games are not used at this event. Instead, head-to-head records come into play along with pre-game last stone draw results.

In other early games, Russia’s Alina Kovaleva posted a 7-3 win over American Tabitha Peterson, Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont topped Scotland’s Eve Muirhead 9-5 and Germany’s Daniela Jentsch edged Anna Kubeskova of the Czech Republic 9-8.

The Canadian team put some early pressure on China and it paid off with steals. Yu rubbed a guard in the first end to give Canada a deuce and Einarson stole a single in the fourth.

Canada stole another point in the eighth end and ran China out of stones in the 10th to win it.

After a stunning 1-5 start, Canada returned to form in recent days to get back to the .500 mark. The victory over China was desperately needed even if it only set up some scoreboard-watching for the rest of the day.

“It’s been an absolute roller-coaster,” Einarson said. “Sometimes we’d just dig ourselves in a hole and we’d just battle back.”

Read more: Einarson continues world curling comeback bid, suspension of broadcasts extended

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At the start of the morning session, Canada was one of seven teams with a chance of earning one of the last three remaining playoff berths.

Defending champion Silvana Tirininzoni of Switzerland, Russia’s Alina Kovaleva and reigning Olympic champion Anna Hasselborg of Sweden have already secured their spots.

Denmark (7-5) moved into fourth place with its victory to lock down a playoff berth.

The Americans were tied with Canada at 7-6. Germany, South Korea’s EunJung Kim and Scotland were next at 6-6.

Television and streaming coverage resumed Friday morning. Seven members of the event broadcast team tested positive for COVID-19, forcing a five-day coverage shutdown and postponement of one session.

After repeated negative tests from other members of the broadcast crew, Alberta Health approved a World Curling Federation proposal to resume coverage with minimal staff for the final three days of competition.

Staffers who tested positive remain in isolation and are being monitored by medical officials. Athletes and team officials are staying at a different hotel than the broadcast staff.

Canada is looking to return to the podium for the first time since Jennifer Jones won gold in 2018 at North Bay, Ont.

Chelsea Carey represented Canada in 2019 at Silkeborg, Denmark but didn’t make the playoffs. Last year’s championship was cancelled due to the pandemic.

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Brendan Bottcher represented Canada at the world men’s curling championship last month in the curling bubble. He reached the six-team playoffs but lost the qualification game.

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