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Team Homan to curl for Canada in Pyeongchang

OTTAWA – Team Rachel Homan of Ottawa pulled off a curling triple crown in 2017 and will start 2018 playing in the Winter Olympics.

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Ford World champions downed Chelsea Carey’s Calgary crew 6-5 in the final of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Sunday afternoon. Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney, lead Lisa Weagle and coach Adam Kingsbury will represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics curling competition, which will be held at the Gangneung Curling Centre in Pyeongchang, South Korea from Feb. 14 to 25. The Team Canada alternate will be named at a later date.

It was a final that had the stomachs of the many in the pro-Homan crowd tied in knots, especially in the tense 10th end. But they burst into cheers while the Ottawa Senators goal horn blared when Carey missed a double takeout that would have forced an extra end.

When victory was theirs, Team Homan immediately did an extended emotional group hug with tears flowing freely as the realization four years of chasing a chance to play in the Olympics sunk in.

“It’s something I could never even have dreamt of when I was little or any of us growing up, and in our hometown, we couldn’t have written a better story and we can’t wait until we get to represent Canada in Pyeongchang,” said Homan.

“It was an insanely hard field out there. Everyone was phenomenal all week, and we need every shot to win every game. It was great field for Canada, and we really feel that prepared us for going into Pyeongchang.”

Team Homan celebrates its victory on Sunday afternoon in Ottawa. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“We just kept going, kept what was working, and we kept sticking together as a team as our unit, and we didn’t change anything. We kept getting better and better as the week went on.”

Miskew admitted she was more emotional about this victory than winning the world title in Beijing in March, especially since triumph came at home in Ottawa.

“It’s surreal right now. It was just such a battle, (Team Carey) played amazing. We really had to stick with it and we tried not to think about the end goal for the whole game, but at the end it was just utter joy,” said Miskew. “I don’t know how to describe it, I’m so proud of our team.”

Carey, third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jocelyn Peterman, lead Laine Peters and coach Helen Radford had run the table in the round robin with an 8-0 record to advance straight to the final. Team Homan was 7-1 in the round robin, their only loss coming at the hands of Carey, the 2016 Scotties champion, in the opening draw eight days ago. They defeated 2014 Olympic gold-medallist Jennifer Jones 6-3 in Saturday’s semifinal.

“Well, how do you think I’m feeling? It’s awful,” said Carey moments after the game ended. “It’s not what you want. It’s a winner-take-all game and we weren’t on the right side of it. One team’s going to be upset and one team’s going home happy, and we knew that. We left everything out there and that’s all you can do.”

Rachel Homan offers encouragement to sweeper Joanne Courtney during the women’s final. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

The game started inauspiciously for Carey. She whiffed on a wide open blank attempt in the first end. That allowed Homan to steal a point negating the last-rock advantage Carey’s team earned by finishing first in the round robin. It didn’t get any better for Carey in the second end. after Homan delicately tapped Carey’s shot stone off the button, Carey ticked a guard and gave up another steal.

“I threw two really good rocks that ended up really bad,” said Carey of the first two ends. “I threw them really well, I wouldn’t change anything that I did. It just surprised us the way they reacted. Like I say, it was just not our day.”

Team Homan appeared to take total control of the game in the sixth with a double by Miskew setting up the first deuce of the game for a 5-2 lead. But in the seventh, Homan rolled out on her final shot giving Carey the two right back with an easy nose hit.

Facing three in the ninth, Homan was forced to draw the four foot just to get a single point for a 6-4 lead heading to the tense 10th.

The victory means 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts runner-up Team Michelle Englot of Winnipeg will join Homan as one of the North American teams in the 2018 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Service Experts, in London, Ont., Jan. 11-14. Englot’s squad will also replace Team Homan as Team Canada at the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Penticton, B.C., Jan. 27 to Feb. 4.

The 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings concludes with the men’s final today at 7 p.m. (all times EST).

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/

 

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2017roaroftherings/?lang=fr