Canada has finished fourth overall in the 20-team field after losing the bronze-medal game at the 2021 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Aberdeen, Scotland
Canada’s Kerri Einarson (Camp Morton, Man.), Brad Gushue (St. John’s, N.L.) and coaches Scott Pfeifer and Heather Nedohin lost 7-4 to Sweden’s Almida de Val and Oskar Eriksson on Sunday at Curl Aberdeen.
For Einarson, it marks the end of an extended stay in curling bubbles around the world. First winning the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Home Hardware Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship, presented by Nature’s Bounty Vitamins, a Grand Slam of Curling event and then qualified Canada for the women’s curling discipline at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship, presented by BKT Tires. To cap it off, Einarson and Gushue also qualified Canada for the mixed doubles event at the 2022 Olympics.
“It’s been an honour to represent Canada twice on the world stage. We gave it our absolute all this week and I couldn’t be more proud of us earning Canada the Olympic spot. We fought hard every game. We may not have played out best at times, but we also never gave up,” Einarson said.
Eriksson, one-half of the reigning mixed doubles world champions, returned to the event with a new partner in de Mal and looked like they were potentially going to repeat as gold-medal champions. Sweden was undefeated heading into the semifinal before losing its first game and dropping into the bronze-medal game.
Sweden put the game out of reach in the seventh end. Trailing by four, Einarson and Gushue were brewing up a potential big end, but that screeched to a halt after a perfectly executed an around-the-horn thrown by de Val and swept by Eriksson. They eliminated two Canadian stones and ricocheted behind cover for shot stone. Canada played a peel-weight raise double-takeout hoping to score two, but the raised rock rolled too far. Canada settled for one to trail by three.
In the eighth end, Sweden ended the game early after executing a double peel on the guards and gave Canada no chance to set up a steal of three.
“I’m very proud of how Kerri and I battled throughout the week. There was no doubt we were tired and not at our best, but we left it all on the ice and that’s all you could ask for. We’re disappointed not to earn a medal, but are proud to have earned the Olympic spot for Canada,” Gushue said.
The problems started early for Canada during a game where its opponents were shooting a combined 91 per cent, compared to Canada’s 72 per cent. de Val, in particular, stood out in her efforts shooting the first and last stones of the end, including her highlight-reel around-the-horn, with a 98 per cent shooting efficiency.
In the first end, Sweden capitalized on a Canadian error and took quick control of the game. Einarson attempted a hit and roll that would have sandwiched her shot rock in between three Swedish counters. However, Canada only made a nose hit and de Val had a draw to the four-foot for four points.
Canada was unable to retaliate with any means of major offence in the second end. Einarson was faced with a challenging raise, needing to curl around a guard while maintaining momentum to bump a rock in the top-four to the button. Einarson came up light on the shot, and Canada was forced to one.
Einarson and Gushue closed out to the third in perfect fashion. Einarson locked her stone right on top of Canada’s shot stone on the button. Not wishing to make things worse for itself, Sweden opted to throw away the last rock and give up one, halving Canada’s deficit.
Sweden grabbed its four-lead back in the fourth end. Einarson and Gushue elected to play a double on their last shot of the end. Einarson needed to hit all that she could see of Sweden’s yellow stone, but it over curled. Instead, it hit another Canada rock back into the four-foot and as everything settled Sweden was left sitting one. del Val cooly drew to the house for a 6-2 lead at the game’s halfway point.
Canada used its power play in the fifth end, but had no opportunity for a big end. On its last shot, Sweden protected the only big potential Canadian score by guarding a double that could have been for four. All Einarson and Gushue could do were draw to the house for one, which furthered Sweden’s control of the game.
Sweden responded with its power play in the sixth end and looked to be in a good position to have a big end. Facing three Swedish counters spread out around the house, Einarson played a perfect freeze for shot rock and forced Sweden to one point.
The 2021 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship comes to a close today at 10 am (ET) with the gold-medal game. Norway’s Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten take on hometown favourites Jennifer Dodds and Bruce Mouat of Scotland with the world championship on the line. The game will be broadcast live on TSN.
The list of teams, schedule information and live scoring can be found on the event website, https://worldcurling.org/events/wmdcc2021.