April 18th, 2024

Two-win day puts Homan at 8-0 and in a playoff spot 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. – Canada’s 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 in the morning and a 9-5 win over Turkey’s Dilsat Yildiz at night Wednesday to remain unbeaten at 8-0 and secure a playoff spot.

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, Canada’s Homan, Tracy Fleury, Emma Miskew and Sarah Wilkes took a few ends to adjust to straighter ice on their sheet.

A defensive battle ensued with Canada breaking things open with three points in the eighth end. Miskew helped set it 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.”

Yildiz’s side proved to be a tough out in the evening. Turkey led 4-3 after a three-point seventh end and a measure confirmed a single in the ninth.

That left Homan down one with hammer coming home. The skip made back-to-back tricky soft-weight raises to score five points, extending her team’s overall win streak to 24 games.

“She never faltered and just took it in stride,” said Wilkes.

Constantini was alone in second at 7-1. She edged South Korea’s Eunji Gim 10-9 after beating Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont 8-6 in the afternoon.

Switzerland was 6-2 after dropping a 6-5 decision to Scotland’s Rebecca Morrison. South Korea was also 6-2 after a 7-5 win over Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg in the evening.

Denmark (6-3) rebounded with a 7-1 win over New Zealand’s Jessica Smith while sixth-place Sweden fell to 5-4. The top six teams in the 13-team field at the end of round-robin play Friday advance to the playoffs.

Tabitha Peterson of the United States topped Scotland 8-6 to move into a three-way tie for seventh at 3-5 with Japan and Norway’s Marianne Roervik. Scotland was 3-6 ahead of Turkey (2-7), New Zealand and Estonia’s Liisa Turmann (1-7).

Homan meets Estonia in the morning and New Zealand at night Thursday.

Wednesday was the second of three straight days in which Homan’s side plays in the morning and night draws. 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 and earn semifinal byes could face another two-game day Saturday ahead of Sunday’s medal games. A taxing 15 games over nine days 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 Homan ran the table in Calgary 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.”

Each team plays a 12-game round-robin schedule in Sydney.

“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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