April 21st, 2024

Canada’s Homan beats Japan’s Ueno, Turkey’s Yildiz in women’s world curling

By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press on March 20, 2024.

Canada skip Rachel Homan prepares to deliver a stone from the hack during World Women's Curling Championship action against Italy in Sydney, N.S. on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

SYDNEY, N.S. – The Canadian team has embraced the grind of an unforgiving schedule at the world women’s curling championship. The wins keep on coming no matter when the Ottawa-based foursome is playing.

Rachel Homan skipped the host side to a 7-2 victory over Japan’s Miyu Ueno and a 9-5 win over Turkey’s Dilsat Yildiz on Wednesday to remain unbeaten at 8-0.

The morning victory came after a win over Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni the previous night.

That result, which came after an extra-end win over Italy’s Stefania Constantini earlier Tuesday, ended a 42-game win streak at the world championship for four-time defending champion Tirinzoni.

“It was a big day, probably too much caffeine,” Homan said. “It was a ton of fun.”

Returning to Centre 200 to face a young Japanese side skipped by the 2022 world junior champion, the Canadian team of Homan, Tracy Fleury, Emma Miskew and Sarah Wilkes took a few ends to adjust to the straighter ice on their sheet.

A defensive battle ensued with Canada breaking things open with three points in the eighth end. Miskew helped set things up by leaving two stones under partial cover to pressure the Japanese side.

Ueno tried a cross-house double but left her stone exposed. Homan made the hit and the teams shook hands after the Canadians stole a point in the ninth end.

“We felt like we were just here last night and then right back at it this morning,” Miskew said. “Sometimes those games are tough to get up for but we stayed patient and made sure that we scored in the right ends.”

In the evening draw, Yildiz’s side proved to be a tough out. Turkey took a 4-3 lead after a three-point seventh end but Homan had hammer down one coming home.

The Canadian made a soft-weight raise to score five points for the win, extending the Ottawa-based team’s overall win streak to 24 games.

Constantini edged South Korea’s Eunji Gim 10-9 in the morning and topped Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont 8-6 in the afternoon. The Italian moved into sole possession of second place at 7-1.

Switzerland fell to third at 6-2 after dropping a 6-5 decision to Scotland’s Rebecca Morrison. Denmark was next at 6-3 after a 7-1 win over New Zealand’s Jessica Smith.

The top six teams in the 13-team field at the end of round-robin play Friday will advance to the playoffs.

The Canada-Turkey game capped the second of three straight days where Homan’s side will play in the morning and at night. A long-awaited sleep-in comes Friday but will be followed by back-to-back games that afternoon and evening.

Playoff teams that don’t crack the top two could face another two-game day Saturday ahead of Sunday’s medal games. The possibility of a taxing 15-game schedule over a nine-day stretch is a possibility.

“It’s not the easiest. It is a little bit fatiguing,” Miskew said. “It’s also fatiguing to play back-to-back games. When there’s 13 teams at an event of this length, there’s going to be either back-to-back or night-morning. We just happen to have night-morning three times, which is more than we’re used to.

“So we’re just trying to make sure we maximize our rest during the day between games and recover as much as we can.”

The competition started less than three weeks after the team ran the table to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, an 18-team event that’s one day longer but has an eight-game round-robin with its two-pool format.

“They usually balance it out so that if you play at night, you don’t play the next morning,” Miskew said of the nationals. “There’s not a lot of back-to-backs. But here it’s just a mix of everything.

“It’s just something that we’re not typically used to. But we’re thrown into it and getting used to it as we go.”

At the world championship, each team plays a full 12-game round-robin schedule.

“I try not to think about the length of the week too much, the number of games, because then it can feel overwhelming,” Wilkes said. “So (we’re) just focusing on what’s important right now and what we can do to get ready for our next game.”

Canada’s last women’s world title came in 2018 when Jennifer Jones was victorious in North Bay, Ont. Homan won gold in her last world championship appearance in 2017 at Beijing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2023.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

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