By Jake Romphf
In a moment fit for their up-and-down season, Team Homan left the Players’ Championship defeated but with a prize, by capturing the Grand Slam of Curling’s Pinty’s Cup.
Team Homan, who curls out of the Ottawa Curling Club, needed only the second victory of their 2-3 record at the Players’ Championship, which was the final leg of events counting towards the Pinty’s Cup, to clinch the title.
Prior to the April tournament, which was held at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, Team Homan had nearly twice the amount of points (52) as the 2nd-placed teams – Team Hasselborg and Team Tirinzoni (30) – in Canada’s premiere curling tour.
The team made up of three Ottawa natives – skip Rachel Homan, third Emma Miskew, and lead Lise Weagle – and Alberta-import Joanne Courtney, will be awarded the $75,000 bonus prize that comes with the Pinty’s Cup.
Miskew, who spoke to the Sportspage just after her team’s run at the Players’ Championship ended, said that the team was disappointed after failing to medal at last year’s Olympics, but came into this season determined.
“We decided that last season was last season and we were just going to put all the amount of work that we needed into this season,” Miskew said. “We do this because we love it.”
Team Homan dominated competition during a hot stint this season, winning three consecutive Grand Slam events. During a streak through the Tour Challenge, the National, and the Canadian Open – in which they lost just one out of 20 matches – the team spent 10 weeks as the world’s No. 1 ranked women’s curling team.
“That third one was quite the highlight because it hasn’t really been done before, so we were excited we were able to do that,” Miskew said of the streak.
Team Homan fell just short in several other high-level competitions throughout the year. Their first two Grand Slam events included a loss in the semifinals at the Elite 10 and a loss in the finals at the Masters. “We were just trying to keep doing what we were doing and not worry about it. We’re not going to win every game all year, that’s impossible, so we just wanted to make sure we were learning from every loss,” Miskew said.
In February, Team Homan gave up a four-point lead and lost the Scotties Tournament of Hearts to skip Chelsea Carey and Team Alberta.
“We had control and we had every opportunity to win,” Homan told reporters after the loss. “We just missed a few too many.”
The curlers opened the Players’ Championship with a 1-1 record heading into their match against Manitoba’s Team Fleury. The close contest saw the two teams trading points in each end until Team Homan broke out for four points in the sixth. The 8-5 victory would be all Team Homan needed to claim the Pinty’s Cup.
“It’s really exciting,” Homan told Sportsnet following the match. “We’ve fallen short a couple of years now, so it’s really nice to be able to clinch that early.”
Team Homan went on to be eliminated by Team Fujisawa in a tiebreaker to decide which team moved on to the quarterfinals. Homan had the hammer, but was unable to remove two buried Fujisawa stones. Team Fujisawa put up two points in the final end to come from behind and win the match 6-5.
Team Homan will wrap up the Grand Slam of Curling when they compete in the Champions Cup, starting on April 23.
The team was supposed to represent Canada at the Curling World Cup in Beijing this May, but were replaced by a team lead by skip Jennifer Jones. Both Homan and Courtney are pregnant and have due dates that conflict with the Curling World Cup. Homan’s due in mid June, while Courtney’s expecting her child less than a month later.
Miskew said Homan and Courtney have played great all year, but knew the Players’ Championship was going to be physically tough for them because of how far along they are in their pregnancies.
“Obviously family is way more important than curling,” Homan told CBC News in January. “When it comes down to it everyone on the team knows family comes first.”