OLYMPIC CURLING TRIALS: Leader Fleury gains confidence from resounding victory

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SASKATOON – While amassing a stunning 35-5 record in the first three months of the elite curling season – and a 5-0 record at the Olympic Trials – Tracy Fleury’s side didn’t always have to win wins in close matches.

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It was a different story Wednesday afternoon at the SaskTel Center as Fleury from East St. Paul, Man. had to fend off a tall order from Jacqueline Harrison of Dundas, Ont., in order to keep her perfect record intact.

Harrison, a barely familiar face at Curling Canada’s biggest events, led world number one Fleury to an extra end and forced the captain with the hottest hand in the land to make a tough out with his last stone in the 11th to ensure victory.

“It’s good for us to be able to pull off a close game, just to be able to feel a little nervous and get a win,” said Fleury. “It just gives us a little confidence. It was our closest match, so a little more nerves.

Fleury hasn’t clinched anything yet, but her team are alone in the top spot, with three games to go in the round robin. It would be a shock for her team not to be at least in the playoffs on Saturday, if not in the women’s final on Sunday.

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Fleury is sure to have a tall order from 2014 Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, who is in second at 5-1 after beating Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton 8-5 on Wednesday.

“If you had asked me when the event started what it would mean to be 5-1 after Wednesday I would have been absolutely thrilled,” said Jones, who rebounded well after losing a 10- decision. 9 against Kerri Einarson in a savage duel against all of Manitoba on Tuesday night. “We like where we are at, we have yet another piece of gear, and we just have to assemble it at the end of the week.”

HOMAN FALLS AT 1-4

Things are not going so well for Rachel Homan, who represented Canada at the 2018 Olympics.

Her Ottawa team struggled all week in Saskatoon and is now 1-4 after an 11-5 loss to Laura Walker of Edmonton on Wednesday.

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It looks more and more like the end of Homan’s dream of representing Canada this year, although it is not mathematically impossible.

“We’ve been in a lot of games, but this one wasn’t really the case,” Homan said. “We missed the big guys.

“I’m fine. We made a bunch of shots there and a lot of plays could have gone back and forth, by just one boulder here or there. It’s like that. We didn’t leave anything on the table. . We give him everything we have, every game, and you can’t win every game. There are a lot of good teams here. “

ON A ROLL AFTER TWEET

After losing 9-2 to Fleury in a nationally televised game on Monday, Krista McCarville’s team members in Thunder Bay kicked off the post of the week on social media.

Because their match ended after just eight ends, the team members returned to their hotel before the rest of the matches were even over.

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They then posted a photo of themselves on Twitter with sad faces, a bottle of wine and White Claw drinks and the game on TV in the background, with the caption “You know you had a bad time. night when you come home to watch the the end of the show in which you were the featured game. “

The humorous tweet has garnered thousands of likes on Twitter and it appears to have helped turn the tide for the team, which have won twice since Monday and are back in the mix for a playoff spot at 3-3.

“That’s who we are,” said third Kendra Lilly of McCarville. “We obviously take it very seriously, but we also want to have fun with it. What can you do other than laugh when this stuff happens, especially on national television? We just roll with that and people can see our personality from that, so we’re happy. “

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It was suggested to Lilly that the team might need another great tweet to help move the ball forward.

“I don’t know, I don’t think we’ll ever get past that one,” she said. “This one is going to be the highlight.”

McCarville is tied for third with Einarson, the reigning two-time Canadian champion.

McCarville beat Einarson 6-5 on Wednesday. Both teams are now in the playoff bubble and it will all be over their last two games.

“We just have to win and pray that we’re in it,” Einarson said.

CAMERON BACK TO ACTION

Kate Cameron, the third of Laura Walker’s Edmonton team, returned to action on Wednesday after missing a game with flu-like symptoms on Monday night.

Cameron, and all of the Walker team, have tested negative for COVID-19.

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Cameron was replaced by backup Erin Pincott for Monday night’s game and Walker’s foursome were off on Tuesday, giving him time to recuperate and return to the ice for Wednesday’s game against Homan.

“It couldn’t have been more important,” Cameron said of the exemption.

The Walker foursome are still alive with a 2-3 record, but will likely have to win to advance to the playoffs.

“I feel alive today so I’m happy to be here,” Cameron said. “Happy to get out of bed, happy to have some energy.” I’m just grateful that I was able to achieve everything I had and that I was able to get back on the ice today.

“The doctor told me she didn’t really think it was COVID so it was a bonus right away. Obviously we were careful and I stayed away from everyone and we passed all the tests. I’m grateful that wasn’t it and now we can move on.

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BOTTCHER NEVER ON TRACK

Brendan Bottcher’s Edmonton team have competed in the Brier final for four consecutive years and ultimately won it all last spring in the Calgary bubble.

That’s one of the reasons Bottcher had to fight for Olympic berth this week, but the quartet was never on track in Saskatoon.

After a 9-7 loss to Calgary’s Kevin Koe on Wednesday, Team Bottcher fell to 1-4 and likely won’t be part of the playoff conversation from now on.

The silver lining for Bottcher is that his squad will be Team Canada (defending champion) in 2022 anyway, at least at the Brier in Lethbridge, Alta., Even if not at the Beijing Olympics.

“Lethbridge is my old hometown and wearing the Maple Leaf in my old hometown will be a dream come true,” said Bottcher third Darren Molding.

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“We have a lot to play this year. We still think we could maybe wear the Maple Leaf at the world championships this year as well. It’s a process and it’s certainly not the end of the line for us.

There has been talk of Bottcher’s quartet and Regina’s Matt Dunstone team (0-5) playing a “spoiler” role for the rest of the week, but Molding doesn’t really like that term.

“Every time you go out on the ice you try to play the best you can,” Molding said. “It’s not necessarily in the best interests of spoiling this for someone else. It’s more about the pride and ability that we have. It’s more about playing for yourself than spoiling the other person.

Twyman@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

RANKING

WOMEN

Fleury 5-0

Jones 5-1

Einarson 3-3

McCarville 3-3

Harrison 2-3

Scheidegger 2-3

Walker 2-3

Homan 1-4

Rocque 1-4

WEDNESDAY SCORES

DRAW 11

McCarville 6, Einarson 5

Fleury 9, Harrison 6 (ee)

Walker 11, Homan 5

Jones 8, Rocque 5

MEN

Gushue 5-1

Jacob 4-1

Koe 4-1

McEwen 3-2

Epping 3-2

Gunnlaugson 2-3

Horgan 1-4

Kicker 1-5

Dun Stone 1-5

WEDNESDAY SCORES

DRAW 10

McEwen 6, Horgan 5

Jacobs 7, Gunnlaugson 5

Gushue 9, Dunstone 4

Koe 9, Bottcher 7

DRAW 12

Dunstone 9, Bottcher 4

Koe 7, McEwen 6

Epping 8, Horgan 4

Gunnlaugson 7, Gushue 6

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