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Canada's Einarson downs Italy to keep world curling playoff hopes alive

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson makes a shot against Italy at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson chipped away at her women’s world curling championship deficit with a second straight win Tuesday in Calgary.

The host country beat Italy 10-4 to get to a 3-5 record, but Einarson’s foursome still faces an uphill climb to be among the six teams advancing to the qualification round Friday.

“We’re definitely not giving up,” the Canadian skip said.

Canada beat South Korea and Italy after opening the championship 1-5.

A Canadian comeback will be witnessed by few. Television and streaming broadcasts remain suspended until at least Thursday because seven members of the crew tested positive for COVID-19.

So Canada’s important game against Scotland (4-2) remained off air Tuesday evening.

Without spectators or production staff in the building, the Markin MacPhail Centre felt even more like a library for the Canadians.

“It’s even more quiet now,” Einarson said. “You don’t have those extra people around. We miss them. We hope they come back.”

Russia topped the standings at 7-0. Sweden handed Switzerland a first loss to put both countries at 6-1.

China and Scotland (4-2), the United States (4-3), Germany (3-4) ranked above Canada, which is tied with South Korea for eighth at 3-5.

The Czech Republic, Denmark and Japan were tied at 2-4 ahead of Estonia (1-6) and Italy (1-7).

The top six teams at the world championship also qualify their countries in women’s curling for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The rest of the Olympic field will be determined by an international qualifying tournament in December, which would be an awkward prospect for Curling Canada given the Olympic trials are in Saskatoon in November.

Broadcasts were suspended Sunday when four TV staff tested positive, and that number rose to seven Monday.

The rest of the broadcast crew continued to test negative, but game broadcasts remain suspended to Thursday morning to accommodate more testing, the World Curling Federation said.

“The confirmation of this latest round of results, and additional work on contact tracing, allows the broadcast team and medical officials to progress to the next stage of discussions around a managed return to the competition with an adapted TV production setup,” the WCF said in a statement Tuesday.

“The impacted individuals who have previously returned positive results will remain in isolation and continue to be medically managed by the competition medical officials with guidance from Alberta Health.”

The women’s world championship was relocated from Switzerland in March to Calgary in May because Swiss health authorities refused to support the tournament in the face of a global pandemic.

The women’s championship is the seventh and final curling event held with zero spectators and in a controlled environment in Calgary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Broadcast personnel aren’t housed in the same hotel as the teams.

Two German players, however, remain in quarantine because they tested positive before the tournament began. The WCF gave Daniele Jentsch an exemption to compete with a three-player team.

Last month’s men’s championship was interrupted on the final weekend because of four positive COVID tests. The event made it to the finish line when it was determined those were “false positives.”

The world mixed doubles championship in Aberdeen, Scotland, where Einarson and Brad Gushue will represent Canada, is May 17-23.