Curling Spotlight Now On Women's World Championships
All the focus these past few days on the curling front in Canada has been on the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s championship held in London, Ont.
And for good reason – the quest by Team Gushue to win their fifth championship was a great storyline, and in the end, they pulled it off by defeating Team Manitoba in the final last night.
Brad Gushue earned his fifth title as skip. Vice skip Mark Nichols and lead Geoff Walker also earned their fifth national titles, and second E.J. Harnden won his second title after joining the team this off-season. That fifth championship was a record for Gushue.
But the spotlight now turns to the women. Team Canada, comprised of Kerri Einarson, Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard, Briane Harris and Krysten Karwacki, left for the world championships in Sandviken, Sweden on Sunday.
The competition starts on March 18. How should sports betting in Canada players look at the tournament?
Glad to Be Back
In a conference call with the media, team members say they are looking forward to the first world championships outside of Canada after years of cancellations and a championship held in a centralized “bubble” (in Calgary) because of COVID restrictions.
Team Einarson has won four consecutive Canadian women’s curling championships, now cemented as one of the best curling teams ever.
Birchard said not playing on home turf where interest in the sport is intense takes some of the stress out of the situation, balanced against the unfamiliarity of playing in another country, where issues like customs, getting around, and time change come into play.
“Our No. 1 goal is to bring gold back to Canada,” Einarson added. “We have some unfinished business to take care of. So we’re just going to focus on one game at a time, just worry about that, get on a good roll. We don’t want to focus too much on the outcome at the end.
“We got a taste of playing overseas (the Karuizawa International in Japan in December) and what that feels like. It’s a big time change.”
What to Expect in Sweden
There isn’t expected to be the same level of fan support in Sweden as was seen at the Scotties women’s championship in Kamloops in late February. So it will be a different vibe in Sweden, even though there’s a strong contingent of Canadian fans and family members heading over.
Harris is pregnant, and despite feeling good and ready to play, she said she doesn’t yet know the impact that will have, hence the advantage of having Karwacki (alternate) there.
“I really trust her going in for me,” she added. “But I am going to try and play the whole thing.”
Coach Reid Carruthers said playing in a new facility will require some adjustment.
“There are pros and cons to playing at home and also playing away,” he said. “With less fans in the stands we won’t have as many distractions.”
Team Canada's Preparations
Carruthers also referenced the advantage of having Renee Sonnenberg from Curling Canada, an experienced curler who handles the advanced scouting and helps with preparation.
Leaving a little earlier will give the team more time to prep. Sandviken is five hours ahead of Toronto local time, seven hours ahead of Calgary time, and eight hours ahead of Vancouver time.
“We just want to get used to the time change, get some training together,” Sweeting said. “It gives us a little more time to get accustomed to things.”
The biggest challenge today is getting their rest before the opener against home team Sweden, one of the better teams in the draw. The first round-robin match against Sweden is on March 18, 2 p.m. ET.
“When you get the host country and one of the better teams there’s not a better way to start, (compared to a game) where you are supposed to win,” Sweeting said. “There are definitely no free spaces on the bingo card at the worlds. Everyone is going to be really tough. To play the host team off the bat will bring energy. We are well prepared (for Sweden).”
According to women’s world curling championship futures from BetRivers, Switzerland is at 2.40, followed by Canada at 3.25, Korea at 5.00, Japan at 6.50, Sweden at 9.00, then the USA at 15.00.
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