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Einarson ousted in Tournament of Hearts, falls short of record fifth straight crown

CALGARY — Kerri Einarson's bid for a record five straight Canadian women's curling championships halted Friday with a playoff loss to Kate Cameron.

Einarson fell 9-4 to Manitoba's Cameron and remained tied with Colleen Jones for the record of four consecutive Scotties Tournament of Hearts titles.

"It's sucks, but I guess it just has to come to an end at some point," Einarson said. "It is what it is. We battled hard through all the adversity that we had this week. I'm super-proud of this team."

Einarson's team from Manitoba's Gimli Curling Club was minus regular lead Briane Harris in Calgary.

Curling Canada announced hours before the opening draw Feb. 16 that the organization was "made aware" that Harris was ineligible to compete.

Neither the organization nor Einarson provided further explanation.

Alternate Krysten Karwacki drew in to play in Harris's absence. She performed well with a shooting percentage of 89 per cent that tied her for first among leads.

Einarson went 7-1 in pool play in Calgary.

After falling 8-4 to Ontario's Rachel Homan in an earlier playoff game Friday, Einarson's quest for a quintuple was still in play when she led 4-2 after five ends against Cameron.

But it fell apart in the back half when Cameron stole four points from ends seven to nine.

Einarson attempted a difficult double takeout to score three and force an extra end with her final shot of the game, but was unsuccessful.

Einarson acknowledged that the shock of losing a key piece of the team's championship run on short notice may have taken its toll.

"Maybe a bit. Yeah, it's definitely tough losing a player a day before the event," the skip said. "Krysten stepped in like a champ and we gave it a good go."

Einarson's second Shannon Birchard didn't blame emotional fatigue on a pair of losses Friday.

"We battled through in a really wonderful way," she said. "Didn't come out with a win today, but that's going to happen once in awhile, but I don't think there's any reason to point fingers at any specific situation."

Einarson, vice Val Sweeting, Birchard and Harris were all former skips when they formed a team in 2019.

They claimed four national titles from 2020 to 2023 with an overall record of 52-9. They also won bronze medals at the 2023 and 2022 world championships.

"It's been an amazing run for this team," Einarson said. "When I put this team together, it was questionable how far we would go and look at us today.

"We've learned so much over the years and super-proud of us."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2024.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press