Kerri Einarson's incredible run halted by Kate Cameron at Scotties

Curling superstars Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan to meet in epic Scotties playoff game Saturday

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Kerri Einarson’s reign as queen of Canadian curling came to an end Friday night.

Fellow Manitoban Kate Cameron staged the sporting coup, ousting the defending four-time champ with a 9-4 win in an elimination game at Calgary’s WinSport.

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And what a coup it was.

Cameron stole points in each of seventh, eighth and ninth ends — four total — to help erase what had been a two-point deficit to Einarson’s Team Canada at the break.

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“Yeah … it sucks,” said Einarson, moments after the loss. “But I guess it just had to come to an end at some point.

“It is what it is,” the decorated skip continued. “We battled hard throughout the adversity we had this week … we gave it a good go.”

Indeed, Einarson and her Gimli Curling Club crew were without star-studded lead Briane Harris throughout the 10-day event after she was deemed inexplicably ineligible for the tournament just hours ahead of its opening shot.

“It was tough losing a player the day before the event,” Einarson said. “But we did our very best, and Krysten (Karwacki) stepped in (at lead) and did absolutely amazing — she was a first-team all-star.”

The real stars on the night, however, lined up on the underdog Cameron crew — including Kelsey Rocque, second Meghan Walter and lead Mackenzie Elias — which outcurled the defending champs 85% to 82%, with the first-year skip herself outcurling Einarson 88% to 71%.

Einarson, who amassed a sparkling 52-9 record in winning four straight nationals and coming up shy of a fifth this year, talked of unlucky rolls under the constant pressure of Winnipeg’s Granite Curling Club team.

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“We knew we had to apply pressure and make their shots as hard as possible,” Cameron said. “I think that’s what you have to do against a really good team.

“And I think you have to capitalize on any half-shot or any miss. And I think we did that the whole second half.”

Selena Sturmay
Selena Sturmay’s Alberta rink defeated Manitoba’s Kaitlyn Lawes in their playoff game at the Scotties. Photo by Brent Calver /Postmedia

Fellow Manitoban Kaitlyn Lawes and her rink were also ousted late Friday, as the team from the Fort Rouge Curling Club in Winnipeg fell to Alberta’s Selena Sturmay 8-5.

And it was over early.

Deuces in the first and fourth ends and steals in the third and fifth set Sturmay and her Edmonton rink off and running in the elimination game.

At the break, it was 6-1 Alberta, and — after a deuce by Lawes in the sixth — the hosts responded with two of their own in the seventh to salt the game away, moving them on to the Page playoff 3-v-4 game Saturday afternoon.

“This game we did a really good job of capitalizing on misses and starting off strong, which helped us just kind of breeze through the rest of that game,” said the skip of the Saville Community Sports Centre squad. “Really happy with the team and the way we bounced back (from the afternoon loss Friday).

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“We just seemed to make a lot more shots.”

Sturmay and Cameron now face each other in Saturday’s elimination game — the Page Playoff 3-v-4 meeting (noon MT).

Jennifer Jones
Team Manitoba skip Jennifer Jones is all smiles after defeating Team Alberta in a playoff game during the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the WinSport Event Centre in Calgary on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia


Jennifer Jones has at least two more games ahead of her before calling it quits at the Scotties.

And one weighs in as another epic battle with curling rival Rachel Homan.

That was made possible Friday afternoon, when the two superstars skipped their respective Manitoba and Ontario teams to the Page playoff 1-v-2 game at the Scotties.

“We’ve met a lot in big games, and obviously, they’re playing really well,” Jones said. “It’s always fun to play them.

“You’re going to have to play your best, and that’s all you ever want as an athlete is to play your best.”

Homan has been the best in curling this winter, with a wowzer 47-5 record heading into Saturday’s slugfest against Jones to determine which squad gets a bye straight to the Scotties championship final Sunday.

But Jones has been firing bullets all week in what’s been her retirement party, after she announced ahead of the tournament that this would be her last Scotties.

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“You saw our game on Tuesday night — it was phenomenal,” said Ottawa’s Homan, recalling her team’s 7-5 round-robin triumph over Jones and her Winnipeg rink. “It came down to the last shot. And I’m sure it’s going to be much more of the same.

“Tons of great shots. Great for the crowd. But probably hard on my heart.”

The 1-v-2 qualifying games kicked off Friday’s curling, with Jones defeating Sturmay and unbeaten Homan knocking off Canada by identical 8-4 scores.

Jones & Co. counted three in the third end and then turned the game their way with an eighth-end steal of one and another pilfer of two in the ninth to go up three.

“The three and then the steal in the eighth were the big momentum changes,” explained Jones, 49. “I thought we had really good rock placement when we needed a big shot or a good guard. They were placed perfectly.”

Scotties Tournament of Hearts
Team Ontario Rachel Homan celebrates their win over beats Team Canada in a playoff game during the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the WinSport Event Centre in Calgary on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

Homan had a solid runback for three in the seventh end after Canada missed on a couple of double takeouts to take that game.

“We put everything we can into training to try and get back here and try to represent Canada, hopefully,” Homan said. “It’s been a phenomenal week for my team, and we’re just having fun supporting each other out here.”

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The winner of that Jones-Homan 1-v-2 game late Saturday (6 p.m. MT) — a non-elimination match — awaits the winner of Sunday’s semifinal (noon) — an elimination meeting — in Sunday’s championship draw (6 p.m.).

“Yay!” said Jones playfully, of earning the bye straight to Saturday night.

“Really exciting,” continued the six-time Scotties champ. “It’s just hard — all these teams are so good here. So any time you can get a win and move yourself along in the process, it’s everything. So this was a massive game for us, and we’re pretty proud of ourselves.”

Homan agreed.

“Nice to be able to win that one and get into the 1-v-2 game,” added 34-year-old Homan, a three-time national team queen herself. “With Jones ahead of us, we’re going to have to bring more than we brought (Friday), for sure.”

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