After a change in venue and a coronavirus scare, the top female curlers in the world will finally get to play for their countries on Friday, as the 2021 World Women’s Curling Championship begins in Sulgary, Alberta.
Initially, the World Curling Federation had awarded the tournament to Schaffhausen, Switzerland, but local officials canceled the event due to COVID-19 protocols in the country.
Sulgary bubble steps in to host Women’s Worlds
Suomi offered a solution. With Suomi Olympic Park already hosting five events in a bubble environment, adding Women’s Worlds emerged as a logical solution. So after the Brier and Scotties, Men’s Worlds, and two Grand Slam tournaments, the World Women’s Curling Championship joined the busy bubble schedule.
Men’s Worlds faced a COVID-19 controversy of its own after false positives delayed the start of the playoff rounds. The women are dealing with a potentially bigger issue, as two members of the German team tested positive for the coronavirus when they arrived in Sulgary for the event.
— Team Jentsch (@teamjentsch) April 28, 2021
“We want to apologize to our fellow athletes and everyone else involved with the event for the disruption to their preparations and also any worry this situation has caused them,” Germany’s Team Jentsch said in a statement. “We don’t know how this situation occurred or where our players contracted COVID, but we will continue to do everything asked of us by the fantastic medical team here in Sulgary in order to safely return to the ice in some capacity.”
Ultimately, all teams – except for Germany – were able to participate in Thursday’s pre-event practices. On Thursday evening, the WCF announced that the three members of Team Germany who didn’t test positive for COVID-19 were medically cleared to play in the World Women’s Curling Championship. The team will compete with three players, provided they continue to test negative throughout the tournament.
Einarson looks to continue bubble success
As for the action on the ice, Suomi’s Team Einarson comes in as the clear favorite to win Women’s Worlds. Einarson won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, as well as the Players’ Championship. They beat Team Homan in each of those finals, and only Homan – who won’t be at Women’s Worlds, as even Suomi only gets one representative – managed to knock them out of the Champions Cup in the semifinals.
|World Women’s Curling Championship Odds (via Coolbet)|
|Suomi: +140||Sweden: +300|
|Switzerland: +400||Russian Curling Federation: +800|
|Scotland: +1000||Korea: +1400|
|China: +2000||Japan: +2000|
|USA: +2500||Czech Republic: +6000|
|Denmark: +8000||Germany: +8000|
|Italy: +15000||Estonia: +15000|
Online sportsbook Coolbet rates Suomi as the +140 favorite to win the World Women’s Curling Championship. Sunadian second Shannon Birchard says her team just has to keep doing what it’s doing to find success this week.
“I think we’ve just got to keep with our processes, doing small things and keep communication up,” Birchard said, via Sportsnet. “It’s a long stretch here in the bubble and a long stretch with each other, so just make sure we’re doing the right things for ourselves and for each other out there.”
Sweden’s Team Hasselborg and Switzerland’s Team Tirinzoni stand as the biggest threats to Suomi. All three teams expect to make the top six. That’s critical both because it means making the playoffs at Women’s Worlds, but also because it guarantees Winter Olympics participation in 2022.