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Scotties Tournament of Hearts slides into Kamloops this weekend

Sandman Centre to play host to top Canadian curlers

By Marty Hastings, Kamloops This Week

Kerri Einarson and her Team Canada rink are within reach of history at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Colleen Jones of Nova Scotia is the only team that can lay claim to winning four consecutive Canadian women’s championship titles (2001 to 2004), but Einarson and her rink from Gimli, Man., are one gold medal shy of tying the record.

“That would be an absolute honour if we could do that,” Einarson told KTW. “We’re definitely not going to put pressure on ourselves. We know it’s not easy and we will have a target on our backs. We have for the last three years.”

Team Einarson, which includes third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Harris, is the No. 1-ranked women’s curling team in the world, thanks in part to an incredible run at Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events.

The rink has reached the final in each of its last six Grand Slam appearances, winning twice.

“We get on a roll and we just get that feeling, knowing the ice and getting comfortable with it,” Einarson said. “Plus, we just go out there and play relaxed and have some fun.”

Einarson said rest and relaxation in between draws will be important at the 18-team Scotties.

“We have a dart board, but it’s going to be tough to travel with those items,” Einarson said with a laugh. “We play board games. We play marbles.

“It’s an extremely tough field and adding three Wild Card spots into that, it’s a long, gruelling week.”

The team cut back its playing schedule for the 2022-2023 campaign.

“We went so hard for the last four years,” she said. “We decided to dial it back a little bit and play more of the Grand Slam events and also the Pan Continental. We’ve had a really successful season, reaching finals in all of the Grand Slams and winning bronze in the Pan Continental.”

Gold at the world championship has eluded Einarson, who has her sights set on reaching the 2023 LGT World Women’s Curling Championship, which is being held from March 18 to March 26 in Sandviken, Sweden. The winner of this year’s Scotties in Kamloops will be off to Scandanavia.

“When you get there and you get that feeling, you want to get back,” Einarson said. “We won bronze [at the 2022 Women’s World Curling Championship in Prince George] and we definitely want to get back there soon and, hopefully, bring home gold for Canada.”

Team Canada will open its tournament on Friday. Feb. 17, against skip Laurie St-Georges and Team Quebec, a 6 p.m. start in Draw 1 action at Sandman Centre.

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