Canada’s Homan running with leads

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Rachel Homan still hadn’t thrown a final stone for a win at world women’s curling championship Tuesday. At both the Canadian championships, where her team went unbeaten in 13 games, and at this week’s Ford World Women’s Curling Championship, even seeing her Canadian team in a 10th end has been akin to spying an exotic animal in the wild.

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Rachel Homan still hadn’t thrown a final stone for a win at world women’s curling championship Tuesday.

At both the Canadian championships, where her team went unbeaten in 13 games, and at this week’s Ford World Women’s Curling Championship, even seeing her Canadian team in a 10th end has been akin to spying an exotic animal in the wild.

With their ability to keep the front of the house clear and throw heavy weight shots with accuracy, the Ottawa Curling Club team has been virtually uncatchable when they’ve taken a lead.

Their reward is opposing teams conceding before the 10th end, with the exception so far in Saint John a loss to Switzerland on Sunday. Conversely, it was the Canadians shaking hands after eight ends in the face of a four-point deficit. But Homan went through the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and the first seven games of the world championship without making a game-winning throw in the 10th.

Down 8-3 to Canada, Scotland’s Kerry Barr shook hands after nine ends Tuesday night. The Latvians also conceded after nine ends when they trailed the Canadians 8-4 in the morning draw.

Canada capped the two-win day tied for first in the preliminary-round standings at 6-1 with Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson and Switzerland’s Binia Feltscher.

“We played well, two solid games by our team,” Homan said. “We’re not playing 100 per cent, but we’re reading the lines and learning the lines when we need to.”

Russia’s Anna Sidorova, South Korea’s Ji-sun Kim and China’s Liu Sijia were tied at 5-2.

The Scots dropped to 2-5. Allison Pottinger of the United States was 3-4. Germany’s Imogen Oona Lehmann, Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont, Latvia’s Evita Regza and Anna Kubeskova of the Czech Republic were all 1-6.

The top four teams at the conclusion of the round robin Thursday make the playoffs. Canada faces Germany and South Korea on Wednesday.

The only 10th end Homan, vice Emma Miskew, second Alison Kreviazuk and lead Lisa Weagle played in their first four days in Saint John was their opener against Russia. Again, Homan didn’t throw her final stone because Sidorova missed her last draw.

Homan, 24, wasn’t worried about being battle-ready for a possible playoff game later in the week.

“I’ve had a lot of white-knuckle games in my life. I’d be OK not throwing my last shot for the rest of the tournament,” Homan said.

“If it comes down to it, I’m ready for it. I’ve done it before. I’ve thrown some big shots this week already. Whatever happens, if we keep playing strong, I’m good with what we’re doing.”

Weagle is adept at shifting guards away from the front of the house, but not removing them which is not allowed until the fifth rock of the end is thrown.

Homan and Miskew are heavy hitters. A Miskew runback double against the Scots completely swung momentum back to Canada. Those skills make Canada ruthlessly efficient when they have the hammer, in both scoring more than one point in an end and avoiding steals by the opposition.

Canada scored two on Scotland in the first and third ends with hammer to lead 5-2 at the fifth-end break. They stole a point in the eighth and again in the ninth when the Scots called it a day.

“What we do so well when they have last rock is they’re able to take risks, but because we’re as good a team as there is on the planet for being able to make runbacks and throw heavy weight accurately, we can get out of jail fairly easily if things don’t go well,” Canadian coach Earle Morris said. “And we tick (guards). Those are two weapons we have that the other teams don’t have.”

Reigning world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Eve Muirhead didn’t participate in Scottish women’s playdowns to prepare for the Winter Olympic in Sochi last month. Her former junior teammate Kerry Barr is skipping the Scots in Saint John. They weren’t able to generate a deuce with hammer early against Canada.

“They’re never going to be a team that’s easy to come back against when you go a couple of shots down, but I think we did a good job of making them play some tricky shots,” Barr said. “I’m not too disheartened.

“We knew we were going to have to get a two earlier on in the game, but we just weren’t able to create anything and Rachel and Emma came up with some real good shots.”

Miskew outcurled Scottish counterpart Rachel Simms 86 per cent to 56 per cent, but one of her throws had the Canadian skip and third dissolving into a fit of laughter.

“I threw one shot out there that I wasn’t really all that close to the broom on my slide out, which isn’t normal,” Miskew explained.

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