Team Homan wins bronze, becomes face of Ottawa curling

Erin Morawetz, Centretown News

Erin Morawetz, Centretown News

At only 23 years of age, skip Rachel Homan (second from left) will get more chances on the world stage.

It’s been a wild ride for Team Homan since winning the Scotties Tournament of Hearts back in February.

Competing at the world women’s curling championships in Riga, Latvia, Ottawa’s favourite women’s curling team has brought a bronze medal home to Canada.

After winning the Scotties’, Rachel Homan and her teammates Lisa Weagle, Alison Kreviazuk and Emma Miskew, were invited to attend an Ottawa Senators game at Scotiabank Place, where they were introduced on the big screen.

They also appeared on CTV Ottawa Morning, met Mayor Jim Watson and had tea with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

While the celebration lasted weeks, the girls had to turn it around quickly to be ready to head overseas for the world championships.

“It’s a bit of a challenge,” says coach Earle Morris. “Especially when you come back to Ottawa and there are a million different requests from the media to talk to the girls.

“It’s almost like you’re still celebrating the Scotties and the next thing you know it’s time to go away.”

Morris says the travel and unfamiliar conditions might have shocked the girls at first.

They were especially thrown off by a flight delay in Germany that skewed their schedules and postponed their arrival in Latvia.

“It’s a little tough to start because it’s an international stage and the girls had to sleep in an airport in Frankfurt – just not ideal conditions to start off with,” Morris says. “The ice conditions weren’t as good as we were used to in Canada where everything is perfect.”

Though their 4-2 record in the first six games might suggest otherwise, Morris says Team Homan “stumbled out of the gate” at the worlds.

They followed a tournament-opening loss to Scotland with wins over Latvia, Denmark, and Russia, before losing to the Americans and beating the Italians.

Still, after going 12-1 at the Scotties, a 4-2 record meant the team was not playing their best.

“It would be fair to say that we struggled a bit with our shot-making and team dynamics because everybody’s a little stressed or maybe a little tense getting started,” says Morris. “So we stumbled out of the gate and for maybe the first six games we were pretty ordinary.”

The turning point, though, came after that sixth game. With a 4-2 record, Rachel Homan’s Ottawa Curling Club rink was set to face eventual silver medalist Sweden.

Though they lost the game 8-4, Morris says this game set the tone for the rest of the tournament.

“Our team dynamics were really good and I said, man, that really reminds me of the Scotties – that’s how they played at the Scotties and that’s how they got along at the Scotties,” says Morris. “So even though we lost I had a big smile on my face because I said, this is really good, I like the way it’s gone.”

The team would finish the round robin with an 8-3 record before earning a rematch with Scotland in the semi-final.

The semi-final game came down to the last shot, but Homan jammed her stone on a double takeout attempt to  give Scotland’s Eve Muirhead the winning point and a berth in the final.

Scotland would go on to beat Sweden in the gold medal game.

Team Homan would face the Americans for the bronze, beating them 8-6 to ensure Canada finished on the podium for a second straight year.

While Homan wasn’t able to bring Canada a gold, which would’ve been the first since 2008, curling fans have seen the team give a face to a growing sport.

“Teams are now starting at 8 and 10 years old and becoming insanely good teams,” says Dylan Haggart, a Carleton student who curls out at City View Curling Club. “Junior curling is up even more because of their celebrity.”

Homan got her start at City View.

Her winning banners still adorn the walls of the club, and the team’s success can give hope for aspiring curlers across the city.