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Fleury returns from COVID-19 isolation to post win at Scotties

Skip Tracy Fleury came out of COVID-19 isolation and threw a last-rock takeout for a big triumph on Thursday.

The play lifted Fleury’s Wild Card 1 team from Manitoba to an 8-6 victory over Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville to lock up first place in Pool A at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Fleury was forced to isolate after testing positive for COVID before the tournament. Third Selena Njegovan took over the skipping duties for the team that leads both the Canadian and world rankings.

Fleury admitted to some early rust after not playing for two weeks.

“I was a little worried heading in,” she said. “Once you get the feel of a couple of draws you get your confidence and then it’s a non-issue. It just kind of feels natural.”

Fleury’s win on the final day of round-robin play at the Canadian women’s curling championship improved her team’s record to 7-1. She leapfrogged over Andrea Crawford of New Brunswick, who dropped to 6-2 after a 10-3 loss to Chelsea Carey’s Wild Card 2 from Saskatchewan.

Playing in a tight game where she was forced to make shots helped set the skip up for the playoffs.

“It’s always good to experience a close game and get some practice with nerves and decision making under pressure,” Fleury said. “It helps it was a tight battle out there.”

Crawford concluded second in the standings followed by McCarville. Fleury won’t play again until Friday night.

A win would have given McCarville first place and a bye in the first round of the playoffs. She had defeated Crawford during the round robin.

“We like to take the hard road,” McCarville said with a laugh. “Obviously we wanted to get first place but we do feel successful. We are in the playoffs and we’re starting our next goal. We just have to keep it rolling form here.”

In a game she had to win to keep her playoff hopes alive, Saskatchewan’s Penny Barker was light on a last-rock draw and gave up a steal of three in the sixth end in a 10-2 loss to Emma Miskew’s Wild Card 3.

Miskew, who is skipping Rachel Homan’s rink while Homan competes in mixed doubles at the Beijing Winter Olympics, was eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday.

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