April 21st, 2024

Canada’s Homan rolls to win over Estonia’s Turmann at world women’s curling event

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 nine straight wins here to secure a berth in the weekend playoffs.

Her latest victory came Thursday morning with a breezy 9-4 result over Estonia’s Liisa Turmann in a game that ended once the minimum six ends were played.

The Canadian skip will take a 25-game winning streak into her evening matchup against New Zealand’s Jessica Smith.

“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.”

Two other early games ended after six ends. Italy locked up a playoff spot with a 10-2 rout of Norway’s Marianne Roervik and four-time defending champion Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland thumped New Zealand 10-2.

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

After 15 draws, Canada (9-0) and Italy (8-1) were ahead of Switzerland (7-2), South Korea’s Eunji Gim (6-2), Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont (6-3) and Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg (5-4).

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

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.

Homan leads all fourths this 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 not really looking at the percentages,” Homan said. “I know how precise I want to throw. I know that if I’m precise that it makes my shots a lot easier to be able to really focus on the shot.

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

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.

Entering play Thursday night, Homan boasts an eye-popping record of 58-5 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 Winter Games before that in ’18, also missing the podium in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Wilkes joined Homan’s side in 2020 to form a new front end with Joanne Courtney, who would step 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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