By Daniel Vazzoler
Centretown is now home to world champion curlers after the Rachel Homan-skipped Team Canada won the 2017 CPT World Women’s Curling Championship in Beijing on March 26.
The team out of the Ottawa Curling Club on O’Connor Street had a perfect record of 13-0 throughout the event, capped off by an 8-3 win over Russia’s Team Sidorova in eight ends in Sunday’s gold medal game.
Members of the winning rink returned to Ottawa the night after the championship on a flight from China, and were greeted by a throng of friends, family and well-wishers.
In the final match of the tournament against Russia, Team Homan blanked the first end before scoring in back-to-back ends to take a 3-0 lead. Team Sidorova scored a single in the fifth, but Homan’s three-point sixth end put the Canadians in a commanding position.
The Russians scored just one in the seventh end before the match ended with Team Canada’s two in the eighth. Homan, along with third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney, lead Lisa Weagle and alternate Cheryl Kreviazuk, were crowned world champions.
How did “world champion” sound to Homan?
“It sounds pretty amazing,” the 27-year-old skip said during an interview after the game. “My team worked so hard for this. We’ve been at Worlds now four times (including a 2010 appearance at the World Junior Championship) and to finally bring back the gold for Canada, and stop the drought, we’re pretty excited.”
She added: “We really wanted to bring back gold this time, so that we could make a statement going into the Olympic year — no matter who represents us (in 2018).”
The Ottawa Curling Club has shown the pride they have in Team Homan. At the historic downtown rink, there’s a wall dedicated to the banners the team has won. Now they’ll need to find room for a world championship banner.
“Every time they’re on TV, it’s ‘Team Homan from the Ottawa Curling Club,’ and it’s like the best advertising ever,” said club president Matthew Kellett. “We’re hugely, hugely proud of them, couldn’t be happier.”
The pride in Team Homan is evident in the conversations around the club, Kellett added.
“There’s a sense of pride in a community that goes beyond curlers, and then curling becomes part of the conversation among those who’ve never been a part of the sport,” said Al Cameron, director of communication for Ottawa-based Curling Canada, via email to Centretown News. “And, obviously, for younger athletes, having a local team do well gives them someone to aspire to, and model themselves after.”
The next stage of international competition for Team Homan takes place in December right here in Ottawa. The city will host the Roar of the Rings, the Canadian qualifier for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“I really, really, really hope they win it all and head to the Olympics, because I think that would be a crowning achievement,” said Kellett. “She’s already the youngest skip to win three Canadian championships, male or female, so a world championship and then the Olympics would be awesome.”
Team Homan’s success has brought about changes to some of club’s old traditions, Kellett said.
“We have a large cohort of young women, sort of the 35-and-under category, that we probably wouldn’t have,” he said.
Kellett added that curling clubs were traditionally for men, and would occasionally host women’s events – a model the 165-year-old club itself has used in the past.
Kellett said the club has seen an increase in female membership, especially in their league for new curlers, but attributed that not only to the success of Team Homan but also to the increased attention to the sport of curling as part of the Olympic cycle.
“One thing we probably can tie directly to Team Homan is, because of all these new women, we need space for them,” Kellett continued.
“(The Saturday-morning men’s league) has been around for 30, or 40 or 50 years, (and) they voted this year to become an open league,”
One of the noticeable things about the club is the sense of pride they have not only in Team Homan, but in all of the teams that have represented the Ottawa Curling Club.
Kellett said he thinks it was because of Team Homan the club was willing to allow women to join its open league next year
The history of the club is proudly displayed on any open wall that has room to show off championship banners, ranging from Special Olympics pennants to the ones brought home by world-class curlers like Team Homan and John Morris.