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Kate Cameron reaches Canadian women's curling championship semifinal

Team Manitoba-Cameron skip Kate Cameron watches her shot as they play Team Alberta in Page playoffs at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh) Team Manitoba-Cameron skip Kate Cameron watches her shot as they play Team Alberta in Page playoffs at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
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A day after eliminating a heavyweight from contention, Kate Cameron continued her climb into Canadian women's elite curling by reaching the national championship's semifinal.

Cameron's team out of Winnipeg's Granite Curling Club downed Alberta's Selena Sturmay 6-4 in a playoff game Saturday to get to Sunday's semifinal in Calgary.

After halting Kerri Einarson's run of consecutive championships at four, Cameron joined six-time champion Jennifer Jones and three-time winner Rachel Homan among the three teams remaining at the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Ontario's Homan and Manitoba's Jones were to meet in Saturday's later Page playoff game between the top two seeds.

The winner booked an express ticket to Sunday evening's final, while the loser faces Cameron in Sunday afternoon's semifinal at WinSport Event Centre.

Jones, Homan and Einarson have long been the big three in Canadian women's curling. Cameron wormed her way into that conversation at this year's Hearts.

"I hope, but we put this team together knowing this was a building year, so I'm happy we're moving forward right now," the skip said. "We're looking big picture. We're looking to peak next year and then the year after into the (Olympic) trials."

A national title was tantalizingly close just two wins away, however.

"That would be wicked," Cameron said. "We can do that if we keep playing well."

Host Alberta topped its pool at 7-1, but lost back-to-back playoff games.

Sturmay, third Danielle Schmiemann and lead Paige Paipley made their Tournament of Hearts debut in Calgary. Second Dezaray Hawes had previously played in two Hearts.

Sturmay's teammates held their own Saturday with accuracy percentages in the 90-per-cent range, but Sturmay struggled to hold her shooter in the rings when she had chances to hit for two.

"Honestly, it sucks that I didn't have a good game," said the 25-year-old skip. "I feel it was probably the worst game all week, but that's just curling. You're good some times and not good other times. It's just unfortunate it came out in this game."

Sturmay found solace in her young Edmonton team reaching the final four.

"All of us players have been knocking on a door for a little while now, so to do this while in this event, we've definitely put our name out there and people are going to recognize Team Sturmay from now on," she said.

Cameron brought the experience of six Hearts appearances playing third, but the 32-year-old from New Bothwell, Man., skipped a team this season for the first time in a decade.

"She's a fierce, but calm leader of our team," said third Meghan Walter.

Regular second Taylor McDonald in an advanced state of pregnancy was swapped out before the tournament for Kelsey Roque, a career skip and two-time world junior champion.

Lead Mackenzie Elias rounds out the foursome that gained entry to the national championship as the highest-ranked, non-qualified women's team in Canada this season at No. 7.

They finished third in Manitoba's provincial championship. Cameron snagged the sixth and final Hearts playoff berth by winning a pair of tight games on the final day of pool play to finish 5-3.

Her team was down to three players in the first game against Smith because of Walter's illness.

"All season we've had bumps in the road. I played the first half of the season with barely any vision," Cameron said. "Taylor has been playing pregnant, which has been a challenge for her throughout."

Cameron said eye laser surgery in August "went very wrong in my left eye, so I didn't have vision in my left eye until about mid to end of October. I played four or five events without vision in my left eye."

Cameron reached the 2017 Hearts final in St. Catharines, Ont., playing vice for Michell Englot, who lost to Homan.

"I was riding a buzz and I don't remember anything," Cameron recalled. "I think it was a straight blackout."

The winner of Sunday's final represents Canada at the world championship March 16-24 in Sydney, N.S., and returns to the 2025 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., as defending champion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2024 

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