VIRDEN, Man. – You don’t see shots like this so often, not the stunner Kerri Einarson made, the one that stretched her dream Scotties performance to the final game.
It was a beauty, an unexpected slashed double-takeout, and the crowd that has packed Tundra Oil and Gas Place for these provincial curling championships roared. They roared for the winner — the shot lifted Einarson 6-4 over Barb Spencer, and gave the 26-year-old skip a bye to today’s final — and for the love of the game: Even Spencer’s coach, Ron Westcott, walked off the ice with a warm little smile and a bemused shake of his head. You don’t see shots like this so often.
“Whenever we need her to get us out of trouble, she’s always there for us to do it, and she did it perfectly today
Well, not unless you’re on the East St. Paul skip’s team. "She makes them all the time," Einarson third Selena Kaatz said, cheeks flushed from the win, their eighth straight of the Scotties. "Whenever we need her to get us out of trouble, she’s always there for us to do it, and she did it perfectly today... I knew when she put that broom down, that she was ready to throw it, and she was gonna make it."
Let’s back up, to just before The Shot, and set the stage.
It was the 10th end of a shaky Saturday night Page playoff between Einarson and veteran Spencer, and Einarson trailed 4-3 but held the hammer. That itself was a bit of a surprise: In the previous end, with the teams tied at three, Spencer planned to blank and carry the hammer into the final frame. But her last rock knocked out Einarson’s counter, then stuck in the red paint. That gave Spencer a one-point lead going into the 10th, but handed her opponent the hammer.
Still, Spencer is a veteran and she set the end up well, with two of her red rocks buried deep in the house threatening to limit Einarson to one, or even get a steal. But Einarson could see a hint of red peeking past a guard: So she pulled back in the hack, let the stone fly, and it hit perfectly. Spencer’s red flew back, ricocheted off the other counter, and both slid out the back of the house.
Team Einarson — which includes second Liz Fyfe and lead Kristin MacCuish — scored three. They pumped their fists in the air, as the crowd howled a symphony of glee.
Afterward, while the fact she’d made the final had yet to fully sink in, Einarson said she’d never made a shot quite like it to seal a win. She could have played it safe, thrown a draw and tried to steal in the extra end. It says something about the skip that she never even considered it. "I didn’t want to go into an extra," she shrugged. "I wanted to win it then. And usually, when I go with my gut, it’s the right instinct. So I did."
Now, Einarson and her freshly-assembled rink, who have been the sartorial buzz of the Scotties in their electric pink jackets, will get to sleep in a little before the final starts this afternoon. In the meantime, the semifinal game will determine who will come into the final as No. 2: It will either be Spencer, who gets a second crack, or Chelsea Carey, who pushed through three games and 11 hours of curling on Sunday to make it to the semifinal. They even had to nap on benches in the locker-rooms between games. "We always do it the hard way," the exhausted skip laughed, as the clock creeped toward midnight on Saturday.
"It’s a big grind, you just have to want it bad enough that you kind of power through it. You definitely gotta dig deep."
After a morning heartbreaker, she did. Carey fell 7-3 to Einarson in the final draw of the round-robin, which left her tied for second place in her group. So just an hour later, the top-seeded skip and her team were back on the ice to play Darcy Robertson in a tiebreaker game. That match was a cautious one, and could even have gone to an extra end. But a Robertson miss in the 10th handed Carey a stolen deuce, and punched her ticket to the Page playoff against Janet Harvey at night.
Carey won, scooping up triples in the second and fourth ends to take a commanding lead. Though Harvey pushed back valiantly, stealing two singles in a row in the sixth and seventh ends, Carey held her to a single point in the ninth and carried the hammer and a one-point lead into the 10th to seal the win.
Watch the video below to see Einarson's winning shot.