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Team Einarson unable to comment following Harris’ ruling

Briane Harris Briane Harris - WCF / Jeffrey Au

CALGARY- Hours before beginning their pursuit of a record-setting fifth straight Scotties Tournament of Hearts title, Canada’s Team Kerri Einarson was thrown a curling curveball.

Curling Canada announced Friday afternoon that Team Einarson lead Briane Harris is ineligible to compete at this year’s Scotties in Calgary due to unspecified reasons.

“Curling Canada has been made aware that Briane Harris of Team Canada is ineligible to compete in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. No further information is available at this time. There will be no further comment on this situation from Curling Canada or members of Team Canada,” the governing body said in a release.

Canada went on to defeat Quebec’s Team Laurie St-Georges in an 8-2 rout on Friday night in front of a full house at WinSport Arena. However, the mystery as to why Harris was deemed ineligible remained following the post-game media availabilities as Team Einarson was unable to comment on the situation. 

“I don’t want to talk anything about that,” said Einarson. “I’m here to focus strictly on our team now and what we need to do to ban together.” 

The 36-year-old native of Camp Morton, Man., said their day in Calgary has been emotional. 

“We’re getting through it,” she said. “We’re tough. We’ve faced adversity in the last five, six years together. We can pull though.” 

Einarson was able to confirm that Harris has not gone home. 

Krysten Karwacki is the regular alternate for Team Einarson but played lead on Friday night as Harris’ replacement and shot 88 per cent in the win. 

“I have so much confidence in her [Krysten]. She’s tiny, but she’s mighty,” remarked Einarson. 

With their fourth title defence just getting underway, Einarson said the team is going to have to stick together to get through the week. 

“I think we just support each other in every way we can. This team has been together for a long time, and we have each other’s backs, and we know what it takes. It’s a grind,” said Einarson. “We’re going to grind it out every single game, every single end. We’re going to come together.” 

The 31-year-old Harris has played with Einarson since the team’s formation in 2018 and has been integral in helping them capture the last four Canadian women’s curling championships. All four players – including third Val Sweeting and second Shannon Birchard – were skips before joining forces. 

Harris was pregnant with her first child during Team Einarson’s most recent Scotties win last year in Kamloops, B.C. 

“She’s a fantastic teammate,” Birchard said of Harris. “She’s super well-rounded at throwing and sweeping. We’re fortunate to have someone like Krysten who can come in seamlessly and perform all those duties as well.” 

The rink out of the Gimli Curling Club won their first Canadian championship in 2020 in Moose Jaw representing Manitoba before defending their title inside the Calgary bubble in 2021, beating Ontario’s Team Rachel Homan in the final both times. They defeated Northern Ontario’s Team Krista McCarville in the 2022 gold-medal game in Thunder Bay.  

They are an incredible 45-6 at the Scotties over the past four years. 

"We’re a family so that’s what we plan to do through this week is to stick together and support each other,” said Birchard. 

A win by Team Einarson in Calgary this week would pass Team Colleen Jones for the most consecutive Scotties titles of all-time with five. 

“It would be a dream come true. To be able to set a record like that is amazing. If I said I would be in this position when I was younger, I wouldn’t believe it,” Einarson said Friday morning during a practice session hours before the news came down. “This week we’re just going to embrace it and play our best and see where the chips fall at the end of the week.”

Team Einarson, who are ranked third in Canada coming into the tournament, have also won two bronze medals at the World Women’s Curling Championship. 

A win at this year’s Scotties would also secure the first spot at the 2025 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials in Halifax.