Einarson splits, Gushue rolling at Pan Continental Curling Championships

KELOWNA, B.C. — Kerri Einarson made Halloween extra scary for her New Zealand opponents on Tuesday at the Pan Continental Curling Championships at Kelowna Curling Club.

The skip from Gimli, Man., hoarded all the tricks and treats for her surging team of vice-skip Valerie Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Harris, as Canada carved up Jessica Smith of New Zealand 10-1 in six ends and improved to 3-1 in the women’s round robin standings.

Einarson scored two in the first end, gave up one in the second, then scored two, one, three and two in consecutive ends, leading to early handshakes as New Zealand slipped to 1-3.

In other early draw results, Tabitha Peterson’s U.S. crew won their fourth straight by rocking Adriana Camarena of Mexico (1-3) 10-2 in seven ends; Eunji Gim’s South Korea squad improved to 3-1 with a 9-2 win over Jennifer Westhagen’s winless Australia (0-4) team in nine ends; and Satsuki Fujisaw’s team from Japan moved to 4-0 with a 10-1 win over Cynthia Lu’s Taiwan team (0-4) in seven ends.

In Tuesday’s late draw, Einarson lost 7-5 to Peterson’s unbeaten U.S. team (5-0), to slip to 3-2.

“We had a couple of opportunities and I missed a few key shots. They made a lot of great ones, though. We put some pressure on them and they made some really good shots and we just didn’t capitalize,” Einarson said.

Canada trailed by one in the 10th end without hammer and Team Peterson made no mistake in earning the win.

While Canada has yet to qualify for the playoffs, the team has two more opportunities to do so. The first will come on Wednesday against South Korea’s Team Gim. 

“We can come out firing tomorrow and we know what we need to do. It’s just better rock placement and controlling the front (of the house),” Einarson said.

On the men’s side, Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., has been playing spook-tacular since an opening round loss, too.

The Canadian squad improved to 3-1 on Tuesday with a 6-3 win over Riku Yanagisawa’s unbeaten Japan team, which slips to 3-1.

Gushue scored one in the first end, Japan scored two in the third and Gushue took a 3-2 lead with two in the fifth end. The teams traded singles and then Gushue grabbed a 6-3 lead by scoring two in the decisive ninth.

“Slow start, and we didn’t get rocks in spots we needed to early,” said Canada’s vice-skip Mark Nichols. “But Brad made those shots in five and turned the game around. We played really well the second half.”

“The last five ends were certainly a lot better than the first five ends,” added Gushue. “I’ve been kind of complaining about our performance during the first three games, and to be honest, the first five ends we probably took a step back. But the last five ends were solid, and that’s something we can talk about to see what we did to get ourselves to play the way we did in the last five.

“That’s the way we need to play the rest of the event.”

In other men’s results, Andrew Stopera’s U.S. squad improved to 3-1 with an 8-3 win over Jay Merchant’s winless team from Australia (0-4) in eight ends; New Zealand improved to 3-1 with a 10-3 win over Taiwan (0-4) in six ends; and Jongduk Park improved to 4-0 as his South Korea squad beat Rayad Husain of Guyana (0-4) 6-4.

The Canadian men return Wednesday for a pair of games: the first against Taiwan and the later game against Australia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2023.

The Canadian Press