Krista McCarville punches ticket to Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon

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Team McCarville defeated Team Harrison 9-6 on Saturday to earn the first pre-trials ticket to the Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon in late-November. (CurlingCanada/Michael Burns - image credit)
Team McCarville defeated Team Harrison 9-6 on Saturday to earn the first pre-trials ticket to the Olympic curling trials in Saskatoon in late-November. (CurlingCanada/Michael Burns - image credit)

Veteran Thunder Bay, Ont., skip Krista McCarville is heading back to another Olympic curling trials, her third appearance, after winning the A-side qualifier at the pre-trials in Liverpool, N.S., on Saturday night.

McCarville defeated Jacqueline Harrison from Dundas, Ont., 9-6 to earn the first pre-trials ticket to the big event in Saskatoon in late-November.

The Grade 6 teacher and mother of two, alongside her team of Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala and Sarah Potts now have the chance to represent Canada in Beijing should they win the Olympic trials.

'Over-the-moon excited'

"I feel ecstatic right now. I'm over-the-moon excited right now and so proud of our team and of our battles," McCarville told CBC Sports.

"Our hard work paid off today. I don't think I've ever had a day like this where we've been down big in two games and come back to win. It's hard to even believe what we did today. We just don't give up."

McCarville had her draw weight early in the game and faced some pressure early on. Facing three Harrison stones around the four-foot, McCarville delivered a perfect rock to the button to take a 1-0 lead.

But the game took a turn in the second end. Harrison made a brilliant double takeout with her final store to score five, making it 5-1 heading to the third.

McCarville claws back

McCarville is no stranger to comebacks, including one earlier Saturday, and she started to claw back into the game with two in the third to cut down the lead to 5-3.

The Northern Ontario team kept the pressure on in the fourth end, forcing Harrison to throw a difficult draw against two McCarville stones. Harrison's draw was a little heavy giving McCarville a steal of two and tying the game, 5-5.

After a flurry of points to begin the game, the teams settled down in the second half. But after a measurement in the eighth end, McCarville picked up two and took an 8-6 lead.

McCarville picked up a fourth stolen point of the game by stealing a single in the ninth to increase her lead to 9-6 heading to the final end.

She would run Harrison out of stones in the 10th end to secure the victory and the Olympic trials berth.

"We play better when there's a lot on the line. All four of us really trust each other," McCarville said.

McCarville was able to make it into the A-side final game by virtue of a mini-miracle finish against Mackenzie Zacharias just a game earlier.

Down 7-3 in the 10th end, McCarville mounted a remarkable comeback scoring four in the final end and then stealing the victory in the extra end.

Plenty of experience with big moments

The 38-year-old skip is no stranger to big moments on the pebbled ice. McCarville has made eight Scotties appearances over the years and is always in the mix when it comes to the playoffs and championship round.

In 2016, McCarville nearly won her first title before losing the title game to Chelsea Carey in Grande Prairie, 8-7.

However, last season the team made the difficult decision to not compete at the Scotties in the Calgary curling bubble — McCarville told CBC Sports her family and students were more important than curling in the midst of a pandemic.

"I needed to give myself a break and give myself some time. It rejuvenated me. I was feeling burnt out and I didn't know what my curling future was going to look like," McCarville said.

"Watching the Scotties was probably the hardest thing I've ever done but I think it gave me an extra boost. I've never been this excited to curl in my career."

It appears the team hasn't skipped a beat, having only lost one game the entire pre-trials event.

Three more spots at the Olympic trials are up for grabs Sunday in Nova Scotia. There will be one more women's team and two men's teams earning the right to compete in Saskatoon.

Horgan to face Gunnlaugson for trials spot

On Sunday morning Team Horgan, from Kingston, Ont., will play Jason Gunnlaugson of Morris, Man., for a spot in the Olympic trials.

Horgan defeated Paul Flemming earlier Saturday, while Gunnlaugson defeated Glenn Howard.

Howard, however, rebounded with a 6-4 victory Saturday evening over Tyler Tardi of Langley, B.C., to stay alive in the event.

Pat Simmons, 46, is into the final day of the event after a convincing Saturday night playoff victory over Flemming, 9-4.

Simmons, who is from Moose Jaw, Sask., is a two-time Brier champion and came out of retirement during the off-season. He's now skipping a team out of Manitoba.

Simmons now plays Howard in the B side semifinal on Sunday afternoon. The winner of that will play for the final Olympic trials spot against the loser of the Horgan versus Gunnlaugson game.

Brown advances with win over Zacharias

On the women's side, Team Corryn Brown of Kamloops, B.C., defeated Zacharias 10-3 in nine ends to advance to the B side semifinal. Brown now plays Sherry Anderson, who defeated Suzanne Birt 8-6 on Saturday night.

The winner of that game will play Harrison for the final Olympic berth.

Teams already qualified for the Olympic trials on the men's side include: Matt Dunstone, Mike McEwen, Brendan Bottcher, John Epping, Brad Gushue, Brad Jacobs and Kevin Koe.

On the women's side, Kelsey Rocque, Laura Walker, Casey Scheidegger, Kerri Einarson, Tracy Fleury, Rachel Homan and Jennifer Jones have all qualified for Saskatoon.

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