OTTAWA — Cathy Overton-Clapham has played in almost every major competition over her Hall of Fame curling career.
An 8-4 win over Rachel Homan in the opening game of a qualifier for the Olympics — the one event missing from her glowing resume — brought on the butterflies like never before.
“It was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been to play a game,” Overton-Clapham said. “I don’t know why. The big arena, I haven’t played in (one) for years. I’ve played in arenas but not this size.
“Just knowing that this is probably my last Trials, I just want to come out here and play the best I can this week.”
Overton-Clapham joined skip Chelsea Carey’s team earlier this year after Amy Nixon’s retirement. The Carey rink, which includes lead Laine Peters and second Jocelyn Peterman, shot 83 per cent in Saturday’s victory.
Carey, from Calgary, drew to the four-foot to score a pair in the eighth and added a single in the ninth. It was the round-robin opener for both teams at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.
“We were able to make the big shot when we needed to,” Carey said. “Kind of that jump shot in an end that really turned it around for us.”
It was a disappointing start for Homan, who had most of the 5,774 spectators in the 17,000-seat venue on her side.
“Someone has got to win, someone has got to lose,” she said. “It was one game. It’s the first of a long week.”
Overton-Clapham, 48, has won five Scotties Tournament of Hearts titles (1995 with Connie Laliberte and in 2005, ‘08, ‘09, ‘10 with Jennifer Jones) and won a world championship in 2008. Her last appearance at the Olympic Trials was in 2009 with Jones.
Homan, meanwhile, is the reigning national and world champion. She shot just 71 per cent on the day while Carey, the 2016 Scotties champ, finished at 91 per cent.
“One thing you will see with this team is that they get better as the event goes on,” said Team Homan coach Adam Kingsbury. “We’ve just got to make sure that you don’t get in a hole too early. But I’m not concerned in the slightest — not yet anyway.”
In other early games, Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., topped John Morris of Vernon, B.C., 5-3 and Calgary’s Kevin Koe posted a 6-3 win over Steve Laycock of Saskatoon.
Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., scored a single in the 10th end for a 6-5 victory over Toronto’s Allison Flaxey.
In the evening draw, Jones came back for a 9-6 win over Edmonton’s Val Sweeting and Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont., defeated Winnipeg’s Michelle Englot 9-4.
Mike McEwen downed fellow Winnipeg skip Reid Carruthers 7-3 and Toronto’s John Epping stole one in the 10th end for a 6-4 win over Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L.
“I’m just a little bit mindblown that we imploded like that in the last end,” Gushue said.
Round-robin play continues through Friday. The top three teams will make the playoffs.
The second- and third-place teams will play in the semifinals on Dec. 9 for a berth in the finals a day later against the first-place rinks.
The winning teams will represent Canada at the Feb. 9-25 Pyeongchang Olympics.
Jones, from Winnipeg, won the women’s title and Jacobs took the men’s crown at the 2013 Trials. Both teams went on to win gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press