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Canada's Einarson extends win streak to four games at world curling playdowns

CALGARY — A 1-5 start now deep in the rear-view mirror, Canada's Kerri Einarson is in the mix for a playoff spot at the world women's curling championship.

CALGARY — A 1-5 start now deep in the rear-view mirror, Canada's Kerri Einarson is in the mix for a playoff spot at the world women's curling championship. 

Einarson extended her winning streak to four games Wednesday with a 10-4 victory over Estonia's Marie Turmann to even her round-robin record at 5-5.

"All of our games that we lost, we didn't play badly," Einarson said. "So we knew we weren't far off, we just had to capitalize on our opportunities when we got them.

"And that's what we have been doing. Just taking that extra second in the hack and really thinking of where are tolerance is. We just feel more dialed in right now."

Her Manitoba-based team of Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Meilleur struggled mightily over the first few days of competition. The team's turnaround started with a win over South Korea, followed by victories over Italy, Scotland, and now a rout of Estonia.

"We have some work to do still but I'm really proud of where we are right now," said Meilleur. "We just have (three) games left and I hope we can keep bringing that good vibe to the next game."

Canada moved into seventh-place tie alongside Germany in the 14-team standings with the victory. A top-six finish is needed to reach the playoffs on the weekend at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre.

Canada will play Denmark and Japan on Thursday before closing the round-robin schedule Friday against China. All three opponents were below Canada in the standings after the Wednesday morning draw.

Following evening play, Russia led the standings at 9-1 ahead of Switzerland (8-1), Sweden (7-2) and the United States (7-4).

Scotland was in fifth place at 6-4 while Denmark was sixth at 5-4. Following Canada and Germany at 5-5, China was next at 4-5. 

"I think we're capable of winning it all if we get ourselves in a good position," Meilleur said. "We know how to win games, we just have to make those shots in a timely fashion.

"Just keep doing everything we know how to do. Hopefully the breaks will come and we'll get in the playoffs."

Curling minnow Estonia (1-9) is making its first appearance at this competition but still made heavily favoured Canada work hard for the victory. 

Einarson had hammer in the opening end and used it for a hit and stick to score a deuce. Turmann took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Einarson gave up a steal of two after a missed takeout.

The Canada skip settled for one point in the fifth end when she was light on a draw but regained the lead with a single in the sixth when Estonia missed a pick attempt.

Late-game mistakes snuffed Estonia's chances of an upset. Turmann's final stone in the seventh rolled out to give Canada a steal of two and a 6-3 lead. 

After being forced to a single in the eighth. Turmann was heavy with her last shot in the ninth and Einarson made a draw to score four points and put the game away.

"I know that we always never give up and we always give it our all," Meilleur said. "We always think we can win every game even though we're down. 

"So I knew we'd bring that for the rest of the event and I hope we can keep doing that."

The top two teams in the standings will earn byes to the semifinals. The four remaining teams will play qualification games Saturday morning with the winners to advance to the semifinals later in the day.

Medal games are scheduled for Sunday. 

The competition also serves as the main qualifier for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. A top-six finish is required for a team to book its country a berth at the Games. 

A last-chance qualifier for the remaining spots will be held in December. 

Television and streaming coverage has been shut down until at least Thursday afternoon after seven positive COVID-19 cases were identified among event broadcast staff. 

The World Curling Federation hopes to use an "adapted TV production setup" at some point this week but plans remain uncertain. Broadcast personnel aren't housed in the same hotel as the teams.

The COVID-19 developments forced the postponement of the last Sunday's morning draw, which has since been moved to Friday night. 

This event is the last of seven competitions to be held at the spectator-free Canada Olympic Park venue.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2021. 

The Canadian Press