April 23rd, 2024

Unbeaten Canadian skip Homan picks up two more wins at women’s curling worlds

By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press on March 19, 2024.

Canada's skip Rachel Homan during World Women’s Curling Championship action against Norway in Sydney, N.S. on Monday, March 18, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

SYDNEY, N.S. – When coach Don Bartlett started working with Rachel Homan’s team this season, he wanted the foursome to aim for a winning percentage of at least 80 per cent.

Mission more than accomplished so far.

Homan (6-0) picked up two more victories Tuesday to remain unbeaten at the world women’s curling championship and extend her overall win streak to 22 games.

She edged Italy’s Stefania Constantini 8-7 and followed it up with an 8-5 victory over Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni in the evening at Centre 200.

Tirinzoni (6-1), who has earned four straight world titles, had her 42-game winning streak at this competition come to an end.

Homan’s top-ranked Ottawa-based side improved to 55-5 on the campaign for an eye-popping victory clip of 92 per cent.

“It’s just an incredible run,” Bartlett said. “It just goes to show you (what can happen) if you work hard.”

In the morning, Homan and teammates Tracy Fleury, Emma Miskew and Sarah Wilkes forced the Italians to a single in the 10th end and secured the win in the extra end when Constantini’s final throw overcurled, leaving the Canadian rock as shot stone.

In a marquee matchup against second-ranked Switzerland, the Canadians scored four points in the seventh end to turn the game. The players shook hands after a Swiss single in the eighth.

Earlier, the Canadians shot 86 per cent to Italy’s 84 per cent in their back-and-forth battle. Fleury was slightly off in the early going – she shot a game-low 72 per cent – as Italy scored deuces in the first and fifth ends and took a 4-3 lead into the break.

Homan regained the lead with a pair in the sixth and added singles in the seventh and ninth ends. Her squad put the pressure on in the 10th while up one without hammer.

Canada sat five after Homan’s final throw, forcing the Italians to make a draw to force an extra end.

“We stuck together,” Homan said. “We figured out the rocks and the ice. Once we did that, we started making more shots.”

Fleury rebounded late, making all four of her shots over the last two ends. Her final peel in the 11th left Italy without guards in play.

Constantini’s final throw – a soft raise attempt – stopped short and Homan didn’t need to return to the hack.

“You’re going to get games like this where you’re not quite sharp and you’ve got to rely a little bit too much on your skip,” Bartlett said. “But Rachel is the best skip in the world. Her record shows it this year.”

Homan delivered some highlight-reel shots in the evening. She made a double angle-raise takeout for a deuce in the second end and used control weight for a long double-takeout to set up a pair in the fifth.

Uncharacteristic errors from the Swiss back end of Tirinzoni and fourth Alina Paetz led to Canada’s first four-point end of the event. Paetz wrecked on a guard with her first shot and rolled out after her second stone was wide.

Homan used hammer to draw for four to the delight of the partisan crowd.

The top six teams at the end of round-robin play Friday will advance to the weekend playoffs.

Homan is making her fourth career appearance at this event. She won bronze in 2013, silver in ’14 and gold in ’17.

Since her last loss – a 6-5 decision to South Korea’s EunJung Kim over two months ago – she has earned a Grand Slam title at the Co-op Canadian Open and her fourth career Scotties Tournament of Hearts crown.

“There’s no quit in them,” Bartlett said. “It’s a dream team really. They’ve got it all.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2024.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

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