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Karwacki focused on filling ‘big shoes’ left by Harris during unusual Scotties

Krysten Karwacki Krysten Karwacki - Curling Canada

CALGARY – Krysten Karwacki wasn’t expecting to see this much ice time at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this week in Calgary.

It’s safe to say nobody had that on their bingo card.

“As an alternate you always have to be prepared to play for anybody and be ready to handle anything at anytime,” Karwacki told on Sunday. “So, even though I’m sitting on the bench most of the time, I’m always ready to take on whatever the team needs me to do.”

Karwacki, a 32-year-old freelance social media manager, has served as Team Kerri Einarson’s alternate at the past three Scotties and World Women’s Curling Championships, only playing sparingly from time-to-time near the end of blowout wins.

However, Team Einarson was thrown a curling curveball mere hours before their first game on Friday night when Curling Canada announced that lead Briane Harris was ineligible for this year’s Tournament of Hearts for reasons that have yet to be made public.

When they hit the ice at Winsport Arena to begin their pursuit of a record fifth consecutive Canadian women’s curling championship, Karwacki was the player throwing lead stones for the rink out of the Gimli Curling Club.

And with continued radio silence from Team Einarson as well as Curling Canada on Harris’ situation, it would appear Karwacki will be staying on the ice as the team’s full-time lead for the time being.

“I’m just focused on what I need to do this week,” she said. “I have really big shoes to fill with Brianne. So my focus is just on that and making my shots and doing my best to help the team win.”

During the Tour season, Karwacki plays lead for Saskatchewan’s Team Nancy Martin, who were just one win away from representing the province at this year’s Scotties but fell to Team Skylar Ackerman in the playdown final.

Karwacki played over 50 games with Team Martin this season before arriving in Calgary for the Scotties.

“The more I’m on the ice the better,” explained the Winnipeg native, who is shooting 86 per cent over the first three games. “The more we’ve played the past year has definitely helped me.”

Team Canada’s roller-coaster week at the Tournament of Hearts continued Sunday afternoon with a tough 8-6 loss to Alberta’s Team Selena Sturmay.

After a slow start – including allowing four points in the third end – Team Einarson were able to pick things up in the second half with consecutive steals and had a shot to send it to an extra end but couldn’t execute.

It was just their seventh loss at the Scotties since 2020 in Moose Jaw, the year they captured the first of four straight national championships.

Team Einarson shot 88 per cent in their opening win over Quebec on Friday and 86 per cent on Saturday in a victory over Northern Ontario. They fell to 74 per cent against Alberta on Sunday.

“Bit of topsy-turvy game. I think we were all a little bit frustrated after the first couple ends and not really stringing many shots together, so I thought we turned it around in a great way,” second Shannon Birchard said after the game. “We figured out the ice. I think there’s a lot of positives that we can take forward into our next game. Disappointed we didn’t come out with a win, but we battled hard and took it to 10 ends. They [Team Sturmay] were a formidable team today.”

Despite playing with a new sweeping partner, Birchard says the team’s familiarity with Karwacki has made the transition a little more easy to handle.

“Krysten has been with our team for a long time,” said Birchard. “She’s actually fit in quite well. She’s played with us a lot, practiced with us a lot. Obviously, it’s a little bit of a switch and we have to get used to each other a little bit as we both played on different teams through the season, but she’s fit in amazing and she’s doing great out there.”

Karwacki said she’s felt the support from her teammates during this unusual situation.

“We’re really good friends off the ice and they’ve been helping with a few tips along the way, so they’ve been really great,” she said.

Canada and British Columbia’s Team Corryn Brown are currently tied for the third and final playoff spot in Pool A with identical 2-1 records. They will play each other Sunday morning in Draw 7 action from Calgary.