Team Canada 'not at liberty' to talk about lead Harris' sudden ineligibility at Scotties

No explanation given for ruling from Einarson rink or Curling Canada

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Just hours before the start of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, an absolute bombshell dropped on the four-time defending champions from Manitoba.

Curling Canada announced in a post on X that Team Canada lead Briane Harris has been ruled ineligible for the Canadian women’s curling championship in Calgary.

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No explanation was given for why Harris was ruled ineligible, and it doesn’t appear one is forthcoming.

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“Curling Canada has been made aware that Briane Harris of Team Canada is ineligible to compete in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts,” the post read.

“No further information is available at this time. There will be no further comment on this situation from Curling Canada or members of Team Canada.”

Harris, who remained in Calgary on Friday night, is the longtime lead for Kerri Einarson’s team from Gimli. The foursome, which also includes third Val Sweeting and second Shannon Birchard, has won the last four Canadian women’s curling championships and is on the hunt for a record fifth straight at the 2024 Scotties, which started Friday night with an 8-2 drop of Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges for the defending champions at WinSport.

“Sorry … I’m not at liberty to talk about that right now, at this point,” said Einarson, post-game, of the reason Harris was deemed ineligible for — at least — the start of these Scotties. “I don’t want to talk anything about that. I’m here to focus strictly on our team now and what we need to do to band together.

“I think we just support each other in every way we can,” continued the Team Canada skip. “This team has been together for a long time, and we have each others’ backs, and we know what it takes to grind, and we’re going to grind every single game, every single end. We’re going to come together.”

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They’ll have to do so — for the time being and perhaps week-long — with alternate player Krysten Karwacki at Harris’ lead position.

“Challenging day, obviously,” said Team Canada coach Reid Carruthers. “We’re still processing a lot of it. And I’m proud of the effort they put out on the ice.

“I don’t really know much at this point — none of us do — so we’re trying to work through that.”

Regardless, it certainly didn’t hurt the reigning queens in the opener — a no-doubter.

“We’ve practised with Krysten so many times,” Einarson said. “She’s played in the spiels with us lots, so I have so much confidence in her. She’s tiny, but she’s mighty.”

Harris has been with the Einarson team since its formation in 2019.

The team, which includes four players who used to play skip, won the Scotties in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023, with Harris playing a major role. She’s a strong sweeper and an excellent shooter who sets up ends for the team.

Curling Canada’s decision to release the ambiguous statement about Harris’s ineligibility has already led to widespread speculation on social media about the possible reasons.

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There were no indications from the Einarson team that there was anything amiss heading into the tournament.

“It’s been emotional, but we’re getting through it,” said Einarson of the day. “We’re tough. We’ve faced adversity in the last five, six years together.”

“We’re proud of Krysten,” added Birchard. “She’s been with us a long time as our alternate, so we knew she was going to come in and step up — and we had a great game.

“Briane is a fantastic teammate, and she’s super well-rounded in throwing and sweeping. And we’re fortunate to have somebody like Krysten who can come in seamlessly and perform those duties, as well. We’re going to give everything we have out there, and we’ll see what happens.”

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