Einarson loses fourth straight in women's world curling, more COVID among TV staff

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson makes a shot against the United States at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, May 2, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Stress levels of the host team and television crew rose Monday at the women's world curling championship in Calgary.

Canada's Kerri Einarson was dangerously close to missing the playoffs with a fourth straight loss, while the number of positive tests for the COVID-19 virus among broadcast staff rose from four to seven.

Games went off air and the morning draw was postponed Sunday because four television personnel were affected.

“The broadcast staff remain in isolation in their hotel and are awaiting results from further testing, including testing for variants of concern,” the World Curling Federation said Monday in a statement.

No games will be broadcast prior to the Wednesday afternoon draw, the WCF said. The television contingent isn't staying at the same hotel as the teams.

Meanwhile, Einarson lost 6-2 to short-staffed Germany in the morning draw and faced South Korea in the afternoon.

Canada shook hands after the ninth end, when Einarson was heavy on a draw against three to give up a steal of two.

At 1-5, Einarson can't afford any more losses if the host is going to be among the six countries to make the playoffs Friday.

An 8-5 record made the cut at last month's men's world championship in Calgary, but Einarson essentially needs to win out to stay in the hunt.

“There's still a lot of games left,” second Shannon Birchard said. “We've got to play every single one so might as well win them.”

The top six also qualify their countries to compete in women's curling at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

If Canada finishes outside that group in Calgary, a Canadian team would have to qualify the country at a WCF tournament in December after Canada's Olympic trials in Saskatoon in November.

Because of the uncertainty over the fall schedule, Curling Canada has yet to determine whether that team would be the trials winner or another foursome.

Einarson third Val Sweeting struggled in the first half of the game against Germany, shooting 45 per cent over the first five ends before bringing her numbers up in the back half.

“That wasn't my best game out there,” Sweeting acknowledged. “They played well. We had a couple opportunities. It feels like we're letting some opportunities slip away and we're paying for every mistake.

“We've just got to string some positives together, some games together and hopefully we can still make it in at the end of the week.”

Germany's Daniela Jentsch is at a disadvantage skipping a three-player squad, so she and her teammates felt zero pressure facing Canada.

“We knew that they were struggling and we also read the stuff that's on social media,” Jentsch said.

“It's tough when you have the Maple Leaf on your back. Everyone has big expectations and I think they're a great team.

“They are just not quite there yet, but for us it's easy to play against a team that's already broken a little bit. We have nothing to lose.”

German second Klara-Hermine Fomm and alternate Emira Abbes are isolating in their hotel rooms because they tested positive for the coronavirus before the tournament started.

Switzerland and Russia topped the standings at 5-0 ahead of Sweden at 4-1 and the United States at 4-2 on Monday.

China (3-1), Scotland (3-2) Germany (3-3), Czech Republic (2-2), Japan (2-3) and South Korea (2-4) also ranked higher than Canada tied for 12th with Italy at 1-5. Estonia was winless in five games.

The 2021 LGT Women's World Curling Championship, originally scheduled for March in Switzerland, was moved to Calgary when Swiss health authorities refused to sanction the tournament.

The tournament is the seventh and final curling event held in Calgary's Markin MacPhail Centre with zero spectators in a controlled environment to prevent the spread of COVID.

Einarson, Sweeting, Birchard and lead Brianne Meilleur from Manitoba's Gimli Curling Club won the national women's championship in February.

The Canadian men's and mixed doubles championships, the men's world championship and a pair of Grand Slams followed.

The men's world championship had a coronavirus scare on its final weekend when four participants tested positive.

The event made it to the finish line, however, when it was determined those tests were “false positives.”

The world mixed doubles championship in Aberdeen, Scotland, where Einarson and Brad Gushue will represent Canada, is May 17-23.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2021.