Team Ontario-Homan, 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts Champions. L-R: skip Rachel Homan, vice-skip Tracy Fleury, second Emma Miskew, lead Sarah Wilkes (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Rachel Homan returned to the top of Canadian women’s curling Sunday after a six-year absence on a night that also served as a retrospective to the end of an era.

Team Ontario-Homan celebrates after defeating Team Manitoba-Jones in the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts final by a 5-4 score. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

The former Canadian champion reclaimed her crown in Calgary after skipping Team Ontario-Homan (Ottawa) to another photo finish 5-4 victory over Team Manitoba-Jones (Winnipeg/Altona), skipped by Jennifer Jones, in the gold-medal final of the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Homan, 34, backed by vice-skip Tracy Fleury, second Emma Miskew, lead Sarah Wilkes, alternate Rachel Brown and coached by Don Bartlett, reached the top of the mountain for the first time since 2017 when she won in St. Catharines, Ont.

Team Homan will now represent Canada at the 2024 BKT Tires World Women’s Curling Championship at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S., from March 16-24.

“I can’t describe the feeling of coming so close so many times and losing,” said Homan, who lost Scotties finals in 2019 and 2020. “I don’t know, it feels like seven finals and it’s just an amazing feeling.”

The joy was profound among the Team Ontario members, but at the same time the narrative in the WinSport Event Centre changed from jubilation for a new winner to celebration of a past champion with the touching tribute by players and fans to Jones at the end.

Jones had announced earlier that this would be her final Scotties after a brilliant career that included six Canadian championships, two world titles and an Olympic gold medal. In that time, Jones became a symbol of toughness and dedication and an unquestioned icon of the sport over her brilliant career. There was no way the sellout crowd of 3,195 was going to let her ride off into the sunset without a fitting roar of approval.

Tears flowed. Hugs abounded.

An emotional Team Manitoba-Jones skip Jennifer Jones waves goodbye to the crowd for one final time in Calgary at the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

“I’m going to miss everybody,” said Jones. “I love the game, I love being out here, I love what it’s done for my daughters, they believe that anything is possible because of curling. At this moment it’s really hard to say goodbye.”

Homan made sure there would be no great storybook ending to Jones’ outstanding career. She used the cudgel of the straightway runback to put away the Manitobans several times over the game, and when it was brandished, it was effective.

She made a straightway runback in the fifth that forced Jones to draw for a single, but it came in hot, leading to a steal of one and a 3-1 lead.

Homan made another one in the next end putting an end to a possible two-ender for Jones.

The game, though, came down to the 10th end, tied 4-4, and after Homan made a gentle tap back on her own shot to sit shot near the button, Jones tried to follow but rubbed and rolled away.

“You don’t want to end on a miss but honestly I couldn’t have asked for a better championship,” said Jones who will continue on in the sport playing Mixed Doubles with her husband Brent Laing. “The crowds were fantastic. I felt we played a really great game today. It could have gone either way but unfortunately it didn’t go our way.

Team Homan’s win put an exclamation point on her dominance this week. Her team rolled through the competition unscathed, beating Jones in the Page 1-2 qualification game and again in the final.

Homan gave special praise to vice-skip Tracy Fleury.

“Tracy is such an unbelievable competitor,” said Homan. “So happy we could win it with her. Phenomenal to be able to do it with my kids here, except for one back home, he doesn’t sleep. Unbelievable feeling to be able to win it with all the support here . . . it means the world to us.”

The win was worth $100,000 for first-place prize money for Team Homan and $60,000 for Team Jones.

The Scotties attracted an overall attendance of 63,971.