Canada , left to right, lead Briane Meilleur, third Val Sweeting, skip Kerri Einarson, and second Shannon Birchard discuss strategy against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. Both of Canada's teams were shut out of the medals, marking the first time ever that Canada did not reach the podium at either the men's or women's worlds in the same season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Play in the Calgary bubble wrapped up Sunday with another world women’s title for Switzerland. The event also brought a fresh wave of questions about the strength of the Canadian program.

Silvana Tirinzoni successfully defended her crown with a 4-2 victory over Russia’s Alina Kovaleva at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre. Tirinzoni forced Russia to a single in the eighth end, blanked the ninth and scored one in the 10th end when Kovaleva was light on a freeze attempt.

“It can’t get any better really,” Tirinzoni said. “Just to have an amazing week and to finish it like this, it doesn’t get any better.”

Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated a day earlier, falling to Sweden in a qualification game. Canada’s Brendan Bottcher had the same one-and-done playoff exit at last month’s world men’s playdowns.

It was the first time that Canada failed to win a medal at either the women’s or men’s world championship in the same season.

“”I would suggest once again that we are back at a crossroads to try to determine whether we can modify or tweak what we do to make us fractionally more competitive internationally because international results do matter,” said Curling Canada high-performance director Gerry Peckham. “They matter on a variety of fronts.”

Canada also missed the podium in both four-player events at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. Jennifer Jones skipped the last Canadian team to reach the women’s world podium when she won gold that year in North Bay, Ont.

This was the world championship debut for the Bottcher and Einarson teams, and both foursomes struggled at times in round-robin play. Even though the playoff departures were swift, both sides were at least able to secure top-six finishes and Olympic berths for Canada at the 2022 Beijing Games.

There are no easy answers when it comes to Canada’s so-so performances over the last few years. Many teams had to deal with a lack of training ice this season and travel limitations prevented normal practice sessions.

But big picture, the days of Canada being a lock for the podium are gone. It’s not that Canadian entries are any weaker than before, it’s that international competition has improved.

Many top countries put their focus on one or two elite teams, who are able to gain more experience at the highest level. Other programs around the world have also improved to the point where they’re in the contender mix as well.

Canada still has several elite teams in men’s and women’s team curling that can contend for world and Olympic titles. The domestic federation will be looking to make strides where it can to make them even better.

“I would say one of our biggest Achilles, which continues to reveal itself, is that our teams are often located in different cities and/or different provinces,” Peckham said. “So the ability to centralize to train is really reduced and challenging.

“When you talk to teams that have experienced both sides of the equation or when you bear witness to what other programs are able to achieve, you realize the significance of centralization within a high-performance program.”

Whether Curling Canada is able to make headway on that front before the Games in February is uncertain. But it will likely be an area of focus for future quadrennials.

At least the federation no longer has to worry about the Olympic qualifying event in December. The last-chance event for Beijing looked like a real possibility when Einarson struggled to a 1-5 start.

However, her Manitoba-based team of Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Meilleur rebounded later in the week and finished with a 7-7 record overall.

In Sunday’s final, Swiss fourth Alina Paetz helped earn the only deuce of the game in the fourth end after delivering a hit with controlled weight. The Russians had difficulty generating offence against a Swiss side that relied on quality rock placement and penalized errors.

Tirinzoni throws third stones on the Swiss team, which includes second Esther Neuenschwander and lead Melanie Barbezat.

“We just made more mistakes today than yesterday, that was the key to our loss,” Kovaleva said. “Yeah we’re happy (with silver), we worked a lot for this result, but next year we’re going for gold.”

The game capped the 11-week curling bubble experience, which was by and large a successful endeavour.

Five days of TV coverage were scrapped over the last week after seven members of the event broadcast staff tested positive for COVID-19. A modified broadcast plan was approved and coverage resumed Friday.

American Tabitha Peterson defeated Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg 9-5 to win the bronze medal earlier Sunday. Peterson scored five points in the seventh end to put the game out of reach.

Switzerland has won six of the last nine world women’s titles.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2021.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press


Just Posted

Alberta premier Jason Kenney announced the province's reopening plan late last month and moved into Stage 1 of that plan Tuesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

(Advocate file photo).
Red Deer voters can choose their voting station for fall municipal election

The rules are changing to increase accessibility while improving safety

Three Hills RCMP recovered stolen copper wire during recent investigation near Kneehill. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta man causes extensive damage at Rocky Mountian House car dealership

A Central Alberta man caused more than $200,000 in damage at Edward’s… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
LeBlanc signals some cautious easing of pandemic travel restrictions coming soon

Government has already said it will relax quarantine protocols in early July

This satellite photo provided by Planet Labs Inc. shows the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province, China on May 8, 2021. The Chinese nuclear power plant near Hong Kong had five broken fuel rods in a reactor but no radioactivity leaked, the government said Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in its first confirmation of the incident that prompted concern over the facility’s safety. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)
China says nuclear fuel rods damaged, no radiation leak

China Atomic Energy Authority reported the reactor’s ‘containment integrity is maintained’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Canada’s Cyle Larin (17) scores past Haiti’s Josue Duverger, bottom left, during the second half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Bridgeview, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Canada, Panama, El Salvador advance in World Cup qualifying

Top three nations in the regional finals advance to 32-nation field for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

Dragon’s Den cast member Arlene Dickinson poses on the red carpet at the 24th Annual Gemini Awards in Calgary on November 14, 2009.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry Macdougal
Entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson’s memoir being developed into scripted TV series

Dramatizing the battle to do business ‘ethically and honestly’

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) celebrates with defenseman Victor Hedman (77) after Rutta scored against the New York Islanders during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Kucherov shines, Lightning beat Islanders 4-2 in Game 2

Lightning 4 Islanders 2 (Series tied 2-2) TAMPA, Fla. — Brayden Point… Continue reading

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) shoots as Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton (24) defends during the fourth quarter of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Durant’s sensational performance sends Nets to 3-2 lead

Nets 114 Bucks 108 (Brooklyn leads series 3-2) NEW YORK (AP) —… Continue reading

New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery throws to a Toronto Blue Jays batter during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Frazier snaps tie, Yankees come back to beat Blue Jays 6-5

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Clint Frazier snapped an eighth-inning tie with a pinch-hit… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Pornhub says it has removed all content uploaded by non-verified users. The sex website faced accusations it hosted illegal content. The company, which is owned by Montreal-based Mindgeek, says it has suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by one of its content partners or members of its Model Program. THE CANADIAN PRESS
International women’s rights advocates call on Canada to hold Pornhub to account

Jeanette Westbrook says being sexually abused as a child will haunt her… Continue reading

Most Read