Einarson opens defence of Canadian curling title with a win, but minus lead Harris | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Einarson opens defence of Canadian curling title with a win, but minus lead Harris

<div>Kerri Einarson will be without lead Briane Harris as she tries for a fifth straight Canadian women's curling title.&nbsp;Harris in action during the bronze medal match between Canada and Sweden of the LGT World Women's Curling Championship in Sandviken, Sweden, Sunday, March 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-TT News Agency, Jonas Ekstromer</div>
Original Publication Date February 16, 2024 - 1:41 PM

CALGARY - Kerri Einarson opened her bid for a record fifth straight Canadian women's curling championship with a victory, but minus lead Briane Harris whose absence went unexplained.

Neither the skip nor Curling Canada provided an explanation Friday on why Harris was abruptly deemed "ineligible" to compete at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary.

After cruising to an 8-2 win over Quebec's Laurie St-Georges, and with Krysten Karwacki playing lead, the skip refused to answer questions about Harris's absence.

"Sorry, I'm not at liberty to talk about that right now at this moment," Einarson said.

When asked why a woman who has been a teammate for five years was suddenly ineligible, the skip said "Sorry, I'm not going to discuss anything further than that."

Curling Canada said in a statement earlier Friday it had "been made aware" that Harris was ineligible to compete in the Tournament of Hearts. A reason was not provided and the national sporting organization said no further comment would be forthcoming.

"Our statement that we released is all we are able to share at this time," Curling Canada chief executive officer Nolan Thiessen said in an email. "If there is more information to share at later time we will, but we will make no further comment at this time."

Harris travelled to Calgary with the Gimli Curling Club team from Manitoba. They attended a Calgary Flames game the night before Friday's opening draw.

"It's been emotional, but we're getting through it and we're tough," Einarson said. "We've faced adversity in the last five, six years together, so we can pull through."

The 31-year-old Harris has been an integral piece of Einarson's four consecutive Hearts crowns, which is tied for the most with Colleen Jones.

Harris was a workhorse sweeper for Einarson last year in Kamloops, B.C., despite being five months pregnant.

"She's a fantastic teammate, she's super well-rounded in throwing and sweeping," said second Shannon Birchard. "We're fortunate to have somebody like Krysten who can come in seamlessly and perform all those duties as well."

In Friday's opening draw, Alberta's Selena Sturmay beat Manitoba's Kaitlyn Lawes 7-5, Saskatchewan's Skylar Ackerman opened with an 11-8 win over Prince Edward Island's Jane DiCarlo and Northern Ontario's Krista McCarville defeated B.C.'s Corynn Brown 9-5.

Einarson's next game is Saturday evening against McCarville. The top three teams in each pool of nine advance to playoffs, from which the final four Page playoff teams will be determined.

The winner Feb. 25 will represent Canada at the world women's championship March 16-24 in Sydney, N.S. Einarson has earned bronze medals at the last two world championships.

Einarson, third Val Sweeting, Birchard and Harris were all former skips who joined forces for the 2018-19 season. Harris skipped her own team for two seasons before joining Einarson.

Coach Reid Carruthers said Friday was "challenging" and the team was "still processing a lot of it."

Harris was not on the defending champions' coaches bench with Carruthers on Friday. When asked if she had returned to Winnipeg, the skip said "no."

"We just have a support each other in every way we can," Einarson said. "This team has been together for a long time, and we have each other's backs and we know what it takes.

"It's a grind and we're going to grind it out every single game, every single end."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2024.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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