Two years later, Einarson’s team finally has the chance to represent Canada at the world championships in Prince George

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The last time Kerri Einarson and her teammates were in Prince George, it wasn’t long.

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Shortly after Einarson, Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Meilleur arrived in the northern BC town with Team Canada gear on their backs, the 2020 World Women’s Curling Championship took place. been cancelled.

It was the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – even before the coronavirus had a name – and much more than the world of curling was shutting down.

Two years later, almost to the day, Einarson and her teammates are back in Prince George and ready to represent Canada, having won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for the third year in a row.

“We were extremely motivated to come back,” said Einarson, whose team is based in Gimli, Man.

“As soon as we found out it was in Prince George, we said, ‘We need to go back there, where it all started.’

“We missed that opportunity in 2020, so we’re going to take full advantage of it and give it our all for Canada.”

Einarson and her teammates finished sixth in their first world championship experience, in the Calgary bubble, in 2021. That event was played at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with no fans in the building and players joining to strict protocols.

The Canadians started 1-5 and were in danger of not qualifying the country for the 2022 Olympics. However, they went 6-1 in the final stretch and made the playoffs – thus qualifying Canada for the Olympics – before losing to Sweden in the first round.

“We learned a lot,” Einarson said. “This year is a little different. There’s no Olympic berth at stake, so there’s not that extra pressure.

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“But we learned what it’s like there and what it’s like to represent Canada on the world stage. We are delighted to have this opportunity again.

It has been difficult for Canada on the world stage in recent years.

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Einarson’s team finished sixth and Brendan Bottcher’s Canadian team placed fourth at the world championships in 2021. Then, at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February, Canada won only only one medal – a bronze medal for the men – despite competing in three disciplines.

There is no doubt a lot of concern about Canada’s current place in the world curling hierarchy, and Einarson knows the challenge ahead of his team.

“As Canadians, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves,” she said. “Curlers in our country don’t have this opportunity every year like in many other countries. It’s hard for us Canadians to adapt (to the international game).

“But having him on Canadian soil, we’re super excited for that and for the fans to support us. Last year it was pretty quiet there, so this year is going to be quite different. We absolutely want to bring the gold home.

The field for these world championships is not as strong as it was in 2021, mainly due to the fact that it is an Olympic year.

Olympic gold medalist Eve Muirhead of Scotland is not in Prince George, nor is silver medalist Satsuki Fujisawa of Japan. Also eliminated was Alina Kovaleva of Russia, who went 11-2 in round robin play in Calgary last year and won a silver medal.

Russian athletes were banned from this event by the World Curling Federation, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

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Still, the field includes Olympic gold (2018) and bronze (2022) medalist Anna Hasselborg of Sweden and reigning two-time world champion Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland.

It will not be easy for Canada to climb to the top step of the podium against these teams.

“We’ve had a lot of great competition in the Scotties this year and we certainly had to work really hard to win…it’s never easy,” Einarson said.

“So going into the world championships there are a lot of great teams. We’ve played them a lot and we know what it takes to win. We just have to go out there and seize the opportunity and have fun. C That’s what we did at the Scotties. We just went out and laughed a lot and it paid off.

Canada opens the world championship Saturday (4 p.m. ET) against Stefania Constantini of Italy. Constantini won a gold medal with partner Amos Mosaner in mixed doubles curling at the Olympics in February.

For the very first time, a team from Turkey, skippered by Dilsat Yildiz, will take part in the world championship.

“We won’t have a ton of information on some of these teams,” Meilleur said.

“We’ll have to look at those ratings before we play, but at the end of the day we just play our game and do what we can and what we do best.

“It was difficult to watch a lot of the Olympics games live, because of the time change. But we definitely watched them. We always like to spot the opposition, see what they’re doing, if they’re doing something We’ve played a lot of these teams before, but there’s also a lot of different teams they’re sending out this time around.

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So this will be the culmination of two crazy years for Einarson and everyone else in the curling world. You can imagine there will be a lot of emotion when the Canadiens finally step out onto the ice after two years of uncertainty during the pandemic.

“It’s been an absolute emotional roller coaster,” Einarson said.

“You are packing your bags for an event and all of a sudden you are unpacking them. It was extremely difficult, but we overcame so much adversity.

We just kept working hard, going to the gym extremely hard, doing those off-ice things that helped keep our game sharp if we couldn’t necessarily get on the ice. We never let things get us down and I think that’s the key to our success.

“We just kept rolling with the punches.”

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Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

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