April 17th, 2024

Canada’s Homan earns two more wins at world women’s curling championship

By Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press on March 21, 2024.

Canada skip Rachel Homan reacts to her game-winning final shot during World Women's Curling Championship action against Turkey in Sydney, N.S. on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

SYDNEY, N.S. – Shortly after completing a near-flawless game early in round-robin play at the world women’s curling championship, Canada skip Rachel Homan returned to the ice for a late-night practice session.

A few folks remained at ice level and all the spectators had departed. There was Homan, working overtime on a quiet Centre 200 sheet trying to get just that little bit better.

“I had her marked at 97 (per cent) that game. She wasn’t happy with that,” said coach Don Bartlett. “There were a couple slides she wasn’t happy with so she went out and practised. Like, who does that? You curl 97 (per cent) and you’re not happy. So that’s perfection.

“She always strives for perfection.”

Her efforts are paying off. Homan, third Tracy Fleury, second Emma Miskew and lead Sarah Wilkes have been rolling in their second season together as a foursome.

After running the table at the national championship, Homan has picked up where she left off. She has reeled off 10 straight victories here and secured a berth in the weekend playoffs.

Her latest two-win day came Thursday. A breezy 9-4 result over Estonia’s Liisa Turmann was followed by a 9-2 rout of New Zealand’s Jessica Smith that extended Homan’s win streak to 26 games.

“I’m lucky enough to curl with four other athletes that have the same goals and the same drive,” Homan said. “We motivate each other.”

Italy locked up a playoff spot in the morning with a 10-2 rout of Norway’s Marianne Roervik. Four-time defending champion Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland booked her weekend ticket in the afternoon with a 9-1 victory over Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont.

The top six teams in the 13-team field will make the playoffs.

With three late games remaining, Canada (10-0) and Italy (8-1) were ahead of Switzerland (8-2), South Korea’s Eunji Gim (7-2), Denmark (6-4) and Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg (6-4) in the standings.

American Tabitha Peterson (4-5) was just outside the playoff cutline. She scored two points in the 10th end for a 9-7 win over Japan’s Miyu Ueno in the morning.

A top-two finish in the round-robin standings will secure a direct semifinal berth. The four other playoff teams will play qualification games Saturday morning. Medal games are set for Sunday.

Entering the night draw, Homan led all fourths on the week with an overall shooting percentage of 89.3 per cent. Canada is at 88.0 per cent as team, just a whisker behind Switzerland.

“I’m always striving for technical excellence and perfection,” Homan said.

Homan took bronze in her world championship debut in 2013 in Riga, Latvia. She upgraded to silver the next year in Saint John, N.B., and won gold in 2017 – winning all 13 games – in Beijing.

Homan boasts an eye-popping record of 59-5 on the season.

“I’m trying to aim small and miss small,” she said. “It’s been a really fun ride developing with these girls.”

Jennifer Jones was skip of the last Canadian team to win world gold, taking top spot in 2018 at North Bay, Ont. She also represented Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, falling just short of the playoffs.

Homan wore the Maple Leaf at the 2018 Winter Games but missed the podium in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In 2020, Wilkes joined the team to create a front end with Joanne Courtney, who stepped away from the game two years later. Courtney was replaced by Fleury, with Miskew and Wilkes moving down a spot in the shooting order.

“It’s just like this perfect puzzle that has come together,” said Courtney, who now serves as a TSN commentator.

She noted the team has brought its game to an even higher level in its pursuit of that “extra half per cent.”

“It’s really neat to see that level of commitment to greatness,” Courtney said. “And I think beyond that, we all forget that Rachel Homan just had a baby six months ago. She’s got three kids under the age of five.

“So to have that kind of drive, to me, it’s out of this world.”

Homan’s big-weight shots have always been a strength but her draw weight has been particularly on point this week. The 34-year-old skip appears to be peaking at the right time.

“It seems like the intensity is there but there’s a calmness to her too,” Courtney said. “She’s not worried about the outcome right now and I can’t wait to see how that progresses as the playoffs loom.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2024.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

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