Canada falters in world championship final
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Switzerland’s Binia Feltscher claimed the Ford Women’s World Curling Championship with a 9-5 win over Canada’s Rachel Homan on Sunday.
It’s the second women’s world title for Switzerland in three years.
“I can’t speak,” Feltscher said. “I don’t know, maybe I can say something tomorrow. Today I have no words. No words.”
Feltscher’s victory follows Mirjam Ott’s win in Lethbridge in 2012. Feltscher won an Olympic silver medal in 2006 playing third for Ott.
Canada led 5-3 after seven ends, but a devastating eighth cost Homan. The Swiss scored three points on Canadian mistakes and Homan couldn’t recover.
More errors in the ninth forced Homan into a low percentage angle raise double takeout with her final throw. The Canadian skip missed and gave up a steal of three at Harbour Station.
It was a deflating end for Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Alison Kreviazuk and lead Lisa Weagle because their record was 11-1 going into the final.
“We’re obviously disappointed, but we still won a silver medal,” Homan said. “The crowd did an unbelievable job today. We’ll be back for more.”
Homan missed her last shot of the semifinal in Riga, Latvia, last year. She gave up a steal and the win to eventual champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland.
Homan carried the weight of heavy expectations into Saint John. Their talent and big-game experience, plus the absence of defending Muirhead who won bronze at the Olympics made the title achievable for the Canadians.
The Ottawa Curling Club foursome went undefeated to win their second Canadian women’s championship in Montreal. They were the top playoff seed in Saint John after posting a 10-1 record in the preliminary round.
Their one hiccup was a lopsided loss to Switzerland on Day 2 of competition.
With raise and runback takeouts, they drained the Swiss offence to win Friday’s playoff game between the top two seeds and book their berths in the championship game.
Feltscher has skipped her country at worlds before, but never finished in the medals. Her teammates Irene Schori, Franziska Kaufmann and Christine Urech were making their world championship debuts. They felt little pressure going into Sunday’s rematch.
Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones went undefeated in Sochi to claim Olympic women’s curling gold last month, but a Canadian team hasn’t won a world title since Jones in 2008 in Vernon, B.C.
Homan and Miskew led in shooting percentages at their position prior to the final, but shot 61 and 63 per cent, respectively Sunday.
The future of Homan’s team in Canadian curling remains bright if uncertain over the long term. Weagle, who turns 29 on Monday, is getting married in July. Her teammates are all 25 or under and in the early stages of their careers after earning their university degrees.
The South Koreans, Chinese and Russians are full-time, paid athletes. The federations focus on a chosen few because those countries don’t have Canada’s depth.
Canada determines its international representatives via the natural selection of regional, provincial and national playdowns. Qualifying for Canada’s 2017 trials requires travelling to World Curling Tour events across Canada throughout the winter to earn ranking points.
That’s a difficult commitment when juggling careers and families. Kelly Scott, winner of the women’s world title in 2007, recently announced her team is disbanding.
“At this point, all the ladies are assessing where curling fits into their busy lives; complete with careers and young families,” Scott said in a statement.
Jones, 39, has a young daughter. It is unclear at this point if she wants to commit to another Olympic quadrennial.
Earle Morris, who had a cult following at Harbour Station, has coached Homan for the better part of the last decade. He wasn’t certain he would be coaching them next season because he too may take a break.
“I think they will have a great future,” Morris said. “The problem with curling and stereotypically with women is life gets in the way. We just have to hope that’s not going to happen with this team. It would be hard to replace anybody on this team in their position.
“Your motivation, suddenly it’s not the most important thing in the world when you have a little baby to worry about or a family to raise or work commitments. It is a challenge for women more so than men in that regard.”
Anna Sidorova claimed the first women’s world curling championship medal for Russia by scoring two in the 10th and stealing one in an extra end in a 7-6 win over South Korea’s Ji-sun Kim.
“I just don’t have enough words to describe my feelings,” said Sidorova, who went 3-6 in Sochi. “Now I’m pretty sure we are able to play at a really high level and we’re able to beat everybody. We just need to execute well and believe in ourselves sometimes.”
Alberta’s Kevin Koe won the Tim Hortons Brier and will represent Canada at the men’s world championship Saturday to April 6 in Beijing.
The 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts will be held in Moose Jaw, Sask., and Sapporo, Japan will be the host of next year’s women’s world championship.
Saint John drew approximately 44,000 people to Harbour Station for the nine-day event. The last world curling championship at Harbour Station in 1999 drew 96,000 when it combined both men’s and women’s events.
Since they were split into two separate events in 2005, Grande Prairie holds the attendance record for the women’s event at 60,000.