Nearing the end of another curling season is always bittersweet.
For Kerri Einarson and her team out of the Gimli Curling Club, that meant digesting a third-place finish, which culminated in a bronze medal at the world women’s curling championship in Prince George on Sunday.
The host nation defeated Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg 8-7 in an extra end – her team is currently ranked third in the globe according to the World Curling Federation.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Canada held a 6-4 lead against Korea in Saturday’s semi-finals only to see the lead evaporate and fall to the eventual silver medalists 9-6.
Two nights earlier, the Canadians also had a chance to put away Korea and come away with the 2nd seed but some missed key shots, which led to an extra-end loss.
Despite falling short of their main objective, Einarson stated a bronze medal is nothing to scoff at.
“It’s an absolute honor to medal at the worlds. We came here for gold but we come with something so that is pretty special and puts a lot of things in perspective. There are bigger things that are happening in this world right now but we are super grateful.”
“We won bronze. We are not going to think about the past. We are going to celebrate our win and yes we could have done things a little differently but it is what it is. We missed a couple of shots here and there.”
At the 2021 world championship in Calgary, which was played without fans, Canada finished sixth in the round-robin with a mark of 7-6.
Einarson’s team fell in the qualification round to Hasselborg, falling by an 8-3 score.
However, this year, the 34-year-old and the rest of her rink weren’t star-struck.
“Last year we felt a lot of pressure. So this year, we went into a little more relaxed and enjoy the moment, embrace the fans and it was amazing.”
As the 2022 season draws to a close, so does a four-year Olympic cycle. Between the end of the Brier and the start of the world, we have seen several high-profile teams part ways.
The most notable split on the women’s circuit was the Tracy Fleury rink out of Manitoba, which was ranked second in the world trailing only 2022 gold medal winner Eve Muirhead of Great Britain.
Selena Njegovan (third) and Kristin MacCuish (lead) ultimately joined a new Manitoba team skipped by Katelyn Lawes, which will also include Jocelyn Peterman.
In addition, Jennifer Jones joined Mackenzie Zacharias, which will see a five-player roster next season.
However, with all the movement centered around the next four-year cycle with a spot at the 2026 Winter Olympics as the ultimate goal, Einarson, and her teammates have no intention of disrupting a good thing.
“We are definitely staying together. Why break something up that isn’t broken. We talked that over and have had a lot of success. I love my teammates on and off the ice and I think that makes us a really good fit for each other.”
“If you stay together longer, the better you get to know so much about each other and sometimes teams do need to change but we are going to keep pushing forward for another four-year run.”
And what success they have had. Einarson along with vice-skip Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard (second) and Briane Meilleur (lead) have won three-consecutive Scotties Tournament of Hearts and are ranked seventh in the world.
Hasselborg on the other hand is wrapping up a hectic two months.
In February, her team, which also consists of Sofia Mabergs (lead), Agnes Knochenauer (second), and Sara McManus (third) claimed bronze at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics before coming to PG.
While a fourth-place finish at the worlds wasn’t the outcome they were looking for, the 32-year-old skip was happy to play in front of a ‘more normal’ atmosphere.
“It’s been amazing to have the crowd here. We are not their number one team but we fed off their energy. It’s been amazing to be here in front of this crowd – it would have been nice to finish it off but it’s been great.”
“However, it’s also been weird to head to an event like this when COVID is still around you. I love that we have been open but it’s tough too because if you get it, you are out. Yet we still have to act normal and go to restaurants but I am very eager to put this COVID shit behind me.”
Hasselborg added because the pandemic is still active, it placed an extra layer of pressure to be at your best.
“The biggest thing about working hard in this environment is just living in this COVID world and not just having the pressure of being a reigning Olympic champ but also getting home safely. I have a one-and-a-half-year-old at home so it’s not just that kind of pressure it’s also that COVID shit hanging over your head but this is the closest to normal I have felt in the last two years.”
Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni and her Zurich-based rink claimed its third straight women’s title on Sunday after a 7-6 win in the gold medal game over Korea.
They are the first team in tournament history to accomplish this and only the third to capture a gold medal while going undefeated.
Tirinzoni’s team is currently ranked sixth in the WCF women’s rankings, sandwiched between Jones’ old team and Einarson.
The Swiss have now won seven out of the last ten world championships at this event.
.@TeamTirinzoni singing the Swiss national anthem after a 7-6 win over Korea in the gold medal game of the world women’s Curling Championship @worldcurling @CurlingCanada #WWCC2022 #curling #CityOfPG #princegeorge #northernbc pic.twitter.com/ASgB2nvzy8
— My Prince George Now (@mypgnow) March 28, 2022