Canada back on winning track after playing Turkey for first time at world women’s curling championship


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In a true sign that curling is growing internationally, there was a matchup between Gimli, Man.’s Kerri Einarson and Dilsat Yildiz of Erzurum, Turkey, on Sunday afternoon in Prince George. B.C.

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“It’s pretty special,” Einarson said from the CN Centre after Canada’s 8-4 win over Turkey at the world women’s curling championship.

“It’s not a country that you play a lot against and it’s pretty nice to see. They made a lot of big shots, so they are definitely not a pushover team and no one to take lightly, just like anyone playing at this level.”

The Turkish players, including third Oznur Polat, second Berfin Sengul, and lead Ayse Gozutok, are from the cities of Erzurum and Erincan, which are in the eastern part of the country, close to the borders with Georgia and Armenia, south of the Black Sea and north of the border with Iraq.

This squad is not new to the international game.

Yildiz and Polat, who are both teachers, have played together for seven years and have been at the European championships each season. They were in the B-tournament until 2019, but moved up to the A-tournament in 2021.

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That set the table for the team to compete in Olympic qualifying events and earn a spot in the world women’s championship this year.

“I think it’s a cool part of the worlds that you get to play teams from all over, that you don’t normally get to play,” Canadian third Val Sweeting said.

“Their third played really well and I had to be on top of my game there. We just applied pressure, got a few mistakes along the way. It was cool to play them.”

The win improved Canada’s record to 2-1.

On Saturday, Canada opened with a 9-2 win over Italy (Stefania Constantini), but then lost 6-4 to Norway’s Marianne Roervik.

After winning fairly handily against Turkey, Canada had a tough matchup on Sunday night — against two-time defending champion Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland, whose team had a 2-0 record.

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COVID FORCES SCOTLAND OUT

Two years after the 2022 women’s world championship was cancelled because of the pandemic, COVID-19 has once again reared its ugly head in Prince George.

Team Scotland has been forced to withdraw from the tournament after four of the five members of the team tested positive for COVID-19.

Scotland had been playing with three players after skip Rebecca Morrison and alternate Fay Henderson tested positive ahead of the event.

The World Curling Federation announced Sunday that two more players tested positive and it was agreed that the team would withdraw “in order to protect the safety of our atheltes, our staff, all other competitors and those involved in the event, as well as to maintain the integrity of the 2022 world championships.”

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The team started the tournament with an 0-2 record, losing 12-1 to Switzerland and 10-9 to the Czech Republic.

The rest of Scotland’s games will be forfeited, including one against Canada, scheduled for Wednesday night.

Scotland’s Eve Muirhead (representing Great Britain) won the gold medal in women’s curling at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in February. Scotland chose to send a different team to these worlds.

HOG-LINE SENSORS PUNTED

On just the second day of the championship, the decision was made to ditch the hog-line sensors in the rock handles after problems once again caused distractions for the curlers.

The rest of the tournament will be played under the honour system with regard to hog-line monitoring.

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The same decision was made at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in February and it was considered at both the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts earlier this year.

Many curlers would like the see the sensors ditched completely, as glitches are continually causing problems. The lights on the handles are designed to turn green if a player has legally released a rock before the hog line or turn red if there has been a violation.

All too often, the red lights are flashing, even though there clearly has not been a violation. A rock that is released over the hog line is supposed to be removed from play by an official.

“It’s definitely time to get rid of them,” Einarson said. “I don’t think going over the hog-line by an eighth of an inch is going to really affect anything. Everyone is pretty good with it so I think they just needed to get rid of them. Too many issues.

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“People just need to be respectful of it. Those are the rules and we shouldn’t be going over. We shouldn’t have to have anybody monitoring it.”

Sweeting said everyone in curling knows there are some players who push the boundary when it comes to the hog-line, and the sensors are designed to keep that in check. However, the distraction is far more of a concern than having an opposition player go an inch or two over the line.

“It can be a distraction for sure,” Sweeting said. “Ours weren’t really working properly (against Norway) but we just kind of kept playing and we ultimately told the other team to just throw. I don’t know if we can do that (laughs) but we just said ‘Go ahead.’ It’s just something you don’t want in the back of your mind, whether it’s faulty or not.”

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PICKING UP THE ICE

All of the Canadian curlers — Einarson, Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Meilleur — struggled with tricky ice conditions on Day 1 of the event, and were showing some frustration during their loss to Norway.

They looked to have a far better handle on things in the win over Turkey.

“(Saturday night) was just one of those games where none of us could really get a pulse on the ice,” Sweeting said. “It’s rare that all four of us are kind of a little bit off. Usually there’s at least one person that can rally the troops.

“I really try to be that person, as the third, by connecting everyone. But I was a little off myself. We just couldn’t get those full shots strung together and it was challenging. I showed frustration and that’s definitely not the best version of myself.

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“I feather-ticked a couple guards early in the game against Turkey, and I had to take a couple deep breaths and move forward. Then we started to pick up on things better. We were able to flip it and make the shots the next time. I think that’s what it’s all about.”

PEBBLES

Heading into the evening draw Sunday, Japan (Ikue Kitazawa), South Korea (Eun-Jung Kim) and Switzerland (Tirinzoni), and the United States (Cory Christensen) were all tied for first place at 2-0. Canada and Sweden (Anna Hasselborg) were just behind at 2-1 … Canada plays just once on Monday, in the afternoon draw against Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont … Heading into the Sunday night game, Einarson was curling 83.3%, fourth-best among all skips. Sweeting was at 74.5% (ninth-best at her position), Birchard 79.9% (eighth) and Meilleur 83.7% (seventh). Overall, Canada was seventh at 80.3%.

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Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

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