Sports Kerri Einarson, Brad Gushue team up for national mixed doubles championship
Tournament of Hearts first test of Curling Canada's Calgary bubble
CALGARY — Kerri Einarson will miss having her twin daughters ask her when can they go to the hotel pool. The skip of the reigning Canadian women's curling champions says those moments are mental breaks from the intensity of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The 2021 Tournament of Hearts opening Friday starts a run of four spectator-free Curling Canada events in Calgary in a controlled environment to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Einarson's daughters won't wait by the rink boards at the home end of the ice to celebrate or commiserate as they did on championship weekend in Moose Jaw, Sask., last year. "They're my support team," Einarson said.
CALGARY — If there's an upside to Kerri Einarson not having a women's world curling championship to play in this month, it's the chance to win another Canadian championship.
Einarson and reigning Canadian men's champion skip Brad Gushue were among the 35 duos named Tuesday to the national mixed doubles championship.
The March 18-25 tournament will be the third of four Curling Canada events held in a spectator-free, controlled environment in Calgary to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur, who claimed a second straight national women's title Sunday, will return to Calgary to team up with male partners for mixed doubles.
Mertens, Sabalenka combine for Australian Open doubles title
MELBOURNE, Australia — Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka won the Australian Open women's doubles final Friday to collect their second Grand Slam trophy as a team. It is likely to be their last for a while. Sabalenka, a Top 10 player with nine WTA singles titles, wants to focus on the singles at the majors but plans to combine with Mertens for some Premier-level doubles events. The 22-year-old from Belarus was the dominant player on court as she and Mertens, the U.S. Open doubles champions in 2019, combined for a 6-2, 6-3 win over third-seeded Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic.
While Einarson and company would have preferred representing Canada on the world stage March 20-28 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, mixed doubles offers the chance to at least keep curling.
When the World Curling Federation called off the women's championship Feb. 8, Einarson said she sent Gushue a tongue-in-cheek text saying "well, good news, I guess the worlds is cancelled so I guess I'm playing mixed doubles."
Gushue and several other men curling in the national championship, starting Friday at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre, will stay on in Calgary for $150,000 Home Hardware Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.
The mixed doubles field also includes two-time national champions Brett Gallant, who is Gushue's second, and Jocelyn Peterman, as well as 2014 Olympic women's curling champion skip Jennifer Jones and her husband Brent Laing.
Defending champ Einarson, Ontario's Homan unbeaten at Tournament of Hearts
CALGARY — Ontario's Rachel Homan and defending champion Kerri Einarson were unbeaten, while Quebec's rookie team injected intrigue into their pool at the Canadian women's curling championship Monday. Homan drew even with Einarson at 4-0 atop Pool A with an 8-3 win over Nova Scotia's Jill Brothers. Ontario and Canada were the only teams among 18 without a loss Monday at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Homan is in the third trimester of her pregnancy. Before her first game Saturday, the 31-year-old from Ottawa hadn't thrown a competitive rock since November.
John Morris, who won Olympic mixed doubles gold with Kaitlyn Lawes in 2018, replaced partner Rachel Homan with Danielle Schmiemann because Homan is just weeks away from giving birth.
The top 12 teams emerging from five pools advance to playoffs.
Video: Ben Hebert gives his no holds barred predictions for the Scotties championship round (cbc.ca)
The winner earns $50,000 in prize money and represents Canada in the 2021 world mixed doubles championship, if there is one. The World Curling Federation has yet to announce a date and location.
The world championship would determine seven of the 10 countries competing in mixed doubles in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The pandemic wiping out the majority of the curling season posed qualification challenges for mixed doubles as it did for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier.
Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women's curling championship
CALGARY — The favourites set the tone in championship pool play Friday at the Canadian women's curling championship. With a few surprise teams making the eight-team cut, perennial contenders Rachel Homan, Jennifer Jones and Kerri Einarson posted afternoon victories and showed why they're good bets to reach the playoffs. "With only three teams advancing, you can't have very many losses to advance," Jones said. "So we know that and we know we'reWith a few surprise teams making the eight-team cut, perennial contenders Rachel Homan, Jennifer Jones and Kerri Einarson posted afternoon victories and showed why they're good bets to reach the playoffs.
Fourteen pairs are provincial or territorial champions and another 14 gained entry via Curling Canada's mixed doubles rankings based on their results between March 2019 and March 2020.
The latter group of 14 had to play a minimum of two mixed doubles events during that time frame.
The seven other teams in the field didn't compete this season because of the pandemic, but had declared to Curling Canada their intention to curl mixed doubles in 2020-21.
They qualified via a ranking system based on each athlete's top three results with their four-player teams, combined with their partner's, in 2019-20.
Gushue and Einarson were among those seven whose ranking under that criteria placed them fifth.
Curling Canada wants to keep mixed doubles options open for the country's top curlers who spend the majority of their competitive seasons with their four-player teams.
Morris and Lawes had played only a handful of games together before winning Olympic gold in 2018.
Two-time national women's champion skip Chelsea Carey and Colin Hodgson, who plays lead for Mike McEwen, objected Tuesday on social media about their exclusion from the field.
Curling Canada responded that they didn't play mixed doubles together in the 2019-20 time frame, nor did they rank high enough to be among the seven. Carey and Hodgson ranked 10th.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Brent Laing's first name.
Brier in the Bubble: Defending champion Gushue beats Epping in opening draw .
CALGARY — Brad Gushue picked up where he left off at the Canadian men's curling championship on Friday night. In his first game with the full foursome of Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker since winning the Tim Hortons Brier a year ago, the defending champs showed few signs of rust in a clinical 6-2 win over Ontario's John Epping. Canada shot 91 per cent as a team while Gushue threw a perfect 100 per cent, numbers he felt may have been a little too kind. "To use a golf expression, there's no pictures on the scorecard," Gushue said with a smile. "There were some throws out there that were pretty gross. But we got a lot out of every shot.