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Brad Gushue, Kerri Einarson start strong in PointsBet Invitational curling

Reigning Canadian women's champion Kerri Einarson cruised to a 15-3 win over Josie Zimmerman on Wednesday in the opening draw of the Pointsbet Invitational curling tournament. Einarson watches a shot while playing Manitoba during the final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, in Kamloops, B.C., on February 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

OAKVILLE, Ont. — The reigning Canadian men's and women's champions cruised to opening victories Wednesday at the PointsBet Invitational curling tournament.

Kerri Einarson thumped Josie Zimmerman 15-3 while Brad Gushue downed Greg Balsdon 9-4 to start the single knockout event.

Four-time national men's champ Kevin Koe was eliminated early in a 10-6 loss to Rylan Kleiter.

Kleiter scored two points in the eighth end and stole another three over the final two ends for the win.

The PointsBet Invitational is Curling Canada's first Season of Champions event of the season. 

The March Madness format features a 16-team draw for the men's and women's fields, which include many of the country's top teams.

Sunday's winning teams earn $50,000 apiece. 

Defending men's champion Reid Carruthers and Ryan Wiebe advanced 10-3 and 8-5 over Johnson Tao and John Epping respectively.

In the women's first draw, Kaitlyn Lawes thumped Abby Marks 11-5, Kayla Skrlik edged Danielle Inglis 7-6 and Clancy Grandy beat Hollie Duncan 6-5 in an extra end.

Top-ranked Einarson will play Skrlik in the next round, while Grandy will face Lawes.

Gushue's next opponent is Wiebe and Carruthers takes on Kleiter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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