Rachel Homan is off to Las Vegas next month, But, even better, she and her team get to stay home in Ottawa in early December 2017.
Homan avenged a loss to Edmonton/s Val Sweeting in the championship game of the 2014 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, by beating the Edmonton team 8-7 in an extra end in the 2015 final in Grande Prairie, Alta., on Sunday.
The victory meant Homan’s team of third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle picked up $24,000 for winning their sixth event of the season — the $14,000 top prize, plus $2,000 for each of their round-robin victories here.
But there were also more spoils going to the victor — most notably, the first direct-entry berth into the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials to be held in their hometown of Ottawa. That will determine Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
As well, with the win Homan’s crew will be part of the North American team at the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, in Las Vegas Jan. 14-17.
“Unbelievable,” said Homan of winning the Home Hardware Canada Cup. “I’ve never been so happy to win a tournament in my life.
“Getting to the Trials is our No. 1 goal and to accomplish that this early, we tried really hard to get there, but you never know. In this sport anything can happen so we’re excited to be able to clinch that win.”
Sweeting gambled but it didn’t pay off. The result is that she won’t be making her first trip to Vegas, despite holding a 6-4 lead after six ends.
“We took advantages early when we could but we just made a couple of mistakes,” said Sweeting.
Sweeting got strong play from her teammates, especially third Lori Olson-Johns and second Dana Ferguson, along with lead Rachelle Brown. Olson-Johns made big shots in the third, sixth and eighth ends.
Ferguson’s best shot came in the seventh when she cleared two Homan guards sitting side by side out front and got a bonus of picking Homan’s shot rock off the button to leave Sweeting’s team lying two.
Sweeting, however, ended up have a chance to blank the end and retain the hammer with a 5-4 lead, but she stuck in the rings with her final shot and took one.
But that’s when the game turned after the Alberta team had controlled most of the earlier ends. Sweeting had a chance to blank and instead her shooter stuck around forcing her to take one and surrender the hammer leading 6-4.
“If I make my blank in seven we’re in much better position to win that game,” Sweeting said. “It wasn’t bad that we took one there, we still had a two-point lead, but just a couple of half shots by me and we paid for it.”
Then in the eighth, Homan, with her final shot, knocked two Sweeting stones off the four-foot to score two for the 6-6 tie. They went ahead 7-6 in the ninth when, after Homan buried her last shot, Sweeting went for two with an angle-raise takeout instead of drawing for one. But she was wide with the throw and gave up a steal.
“I felt pretty confident (about making the shot) because I knew what that spot would do because that’s where I tried my blank attempt and it didn’t roll as much as I thought it would,” Sweeting said. “We liked it out of my hand. It seemed to straighten out as the game went on and we just got caught because it ran straight out of my hand and we flashed it.”
Homan cleaned house with her final shot in the 10th, leaving Sweeting with only one option, draw to the eight-foot to force an extra end. In the 11th, Homan’s team kept it clean and she calmly drew for the win with her final shot and then was enveloped by her teammates in a congratulatory group hug.
“They made some great shots and we had a couple of bad luck [shots], but that’s OK, we stayed with it and thankfully we got a win in the extra [end],” said Homan.
The Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with men’s final between defending champ Mike McEwen of Winnipeg and Kevin Koe of Calgary today at 5 p.m. (MST, TSN2/RDS2).