Canada remains perfect at curling worlds

BEIJING — Canada is on the verge of clinching a playoff spot at the world women’s curling championship after a pair of victories on Tuesday.

Ottawa’s Rachel Homan defeated South Korea’s EunJung Kim 9-8 before dumping Scotland’s Eve Muirhead 8-2 in evening play at the Capital Gymnasium.

The Canadian team of Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle improved to 7-0 in round-robin play.

“We’re happy with that performance,” Courtney said after beating Scotland. “I think we got a good handle on the ice early and it was nice to play a couple open ends to get to feel comfortable and when we had our opportunities, we were able to capitalize.”

Homan threw at 96 per cent while Muirhead finished at just 71 per cent. Scotland conceded the game after seven ends.

After two blank ends to open the game, Homan scored a pair in the third with a short raise takeout. Muirhead was heavy with her draw in the fifth end to give Canada a steal of two.

Scotland scored a pair in the sixth, but Homan ended it in the seventh with a come-around tap to score four points.

“They’re a great team and they have all the shots, so you know you have to be careful with what shots you’re leaving them and you have to show up and play well,” said Courtney. “So we’re quite happy with our performance.”

Round-robin play continues through Thursday night. The Page playoffs begin Friday night and the medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

“It’s easy to maintain the focus because there are so many good teams here and you have to be on your ‘A’ game no matter who you’re playing,” Homan said. “It makes you focus that much harder. There’s lots of parts of the game that we’re looking at and trying to improve.”

Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg was alone in second place at 6-1 after a 9-4 victory over Switzerland’s Alina Paetz. Switzerland is the three-time defending champion but Paetz is in danger of missing the playoffs after falling to 4-3.

“That was a great team effort and we played really well from lead to skip, so it was a good one,” Hasselborg said. “The ice is really good. It suits our play, so that’s OK.”

Anna Kubeskova of the Czech Republic, Russia’s Anna Sidorova and American Nina Roth were tied with the Swiss rink after 11 draws.

In other games Tuesday night, Roth scored three in the eighth end en route to a 7-5 win over China’s Bingyu Wang and Germany’s Daniela Jentsch scored three in the 10th end for a 7-5 win over Italy’s Diana Gaspari.

Earlier, South Korea gave the Canadians a scare, leading 5-4 through six ends. But Homan made a precision tap to score four in the seventh and she held her opponents to a single in the 10th for the victory.

“We were struggling with our rocks for a lot of the game and we weren’t putting our rocks in good spots,” Miskew said. “Luckily, we left Rachel with a couple savers and she made them, so we were happy about that.

“We’re throwing really well, and its always tough when you’re throwing well and not getting results. You just have to kind of let that (go) and move on to the next one.”

Germany, South Korea and Scotland were tied at 3-4. China and Italy followed at 2-5 and Denmark’s Lene Nielsen remained winless at 0-7.

This is Homan’s third career appearance at the women’s world championship. She won bronze in 2013 and took silver in 2014.

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