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Canada's Homan beat Switzerland's Tirinzoni to win the gold medal at the World Curling Qualifiers

Canada's Homan beat Switzerland's Tirinzoni to win the gold medal at the World Curling Qualifiers

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Published Sunday, March 24, 2024 at 10:25 PM EST

Last updated Sunday, March 24, 2024 at 10:26 PM EST

In one of the strongest seasons in modern curling history, Canadian center Rachel Homan had every reason to be confident entering the final of the World Women's Curling Championship.

On Sunday night, she again showed no fear and it paid off by claiming her first world title since 2017.

Homan hit a split for three points in the ninth end and forced Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland to concede in the 10th minute to win 7-5.

“I believed in my team and my team believed in me,” Homan said.

Homan and her top-ranked team of third Tracy Flory, second Emma Miskiw and captain Sarah Wilkes ran the table at the national championship and picked up where they left off against the 13-team field in 200th place.

Canada was 11-1 in quarterfinal play and beat South Korea's Eunji Jim in the semifinal. When Switzerland defeated Italian Stefania Constantini in the other semi-final match, it set up a confrontation between two teams that was as close on the ice as it seemed on paper.

With Carole Howald, Selina Wyschonki and Tirinzoni setting up Alina Paetz in the fourth, the defending champions took the hammer from the Ottawa-based team on a strong note in the opener.

Canada made a few small errors early when Miskew hit and went out in the second end and Homan's ice attempt was a bit off. Paetz hits a soft slam for two and the lead.

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Canada was forced again in the third end and Homan's final stone fell in the fourth to set up a Swiss hit for two. But Baetz was heavy on back-to-back pitches in the fifth inning to allow Canada to tie the game with a pair.

“We had to weather the storm a little bit,” Canadian coach Victor Kjell said.

After the break, two empty periods preceded the eighth end with the Rocks in play. Fleury made a hit that froze the button and Tirinzoni was unable to set off the Canadian stones.

Homan had a hit to sit at fourth and Baetz was forced to tie the game at one out.

In the decisive ninth end, Homan hit two stunning combination shots that turned the tide of the game.

Her double rocket left Canada sitting at three. Baetz followed with a double takeout that left Canada as a blocked shot with two Swiss rocks on the back of the 12-foot ring.

Homan chose to tap her rock just before the rings and the two rocks rolled to score a three, impressing the sell-out crowd of 4,373 people.

“It was just a great team shot to beat Switzerland for the first time in the whole match,” she said.

Tirinzoni hoped to impose force on the Canadians on this end.

“Our chances of winning would have been much higher, but you had to make all the shots, and we didn't do that,” she said.

The Swiss players shook hands when they didn't have a shot to tie the game in the 10th minute. That ended Tirinzoni's streak of four straight world titles and improved Homan's season record to an incredible 62-6.

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“It's really hard to sum up,” Kjell said. “I think it will take a long time before another team in the world can have a season like this.”

All eight players shot at least 78 percent. The team's totals were nearly identical, with Switzerland at 87 percent to Canada's 86 percent.

Homan led all quadrants throughout the competition with 88.6 percent.

“She made a lot of shots this week,” Mischio said. “It was on fire.”

In back-and-forth play, Homan ended Tirinzoni's 42-match winning streak in this contest. The Canadian's only loss came in an essentially meaningless playoff against Jim when the top seed was already secured.

“The more matches we play together, the stronger we become,” said Fleury, who joined the team at the start of the quadrennial tournament.

Homan's title also ended Canada's six-year gold drought at the event. Jennifer Jones was the last Canadian to win, finishing first in 2018 in North Bay, Ontario.

Homan also won two Grand Slam titles. Her memorable campaign will culminate in next month's Players Championship in Toronto.

“It's one of the best seasons I've ever heard of,” said Canadian fifth-placed Rachael Brown.

Earlier on Sunday, Jim beat Italy 6-3 to win the bronze medal.

Homan and Mischio were named All-Stars and Howald took the leadoff nod. Swedish Sarah McManus took third place, and Italian Angela Romei won the Sportsmanship Award second.

Total attendance at the nine-day event was 45,602. Uijeongbu, South Korea, will host the women's world championships next year.

The World Men's Curling Championship kicks off on Saturday in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Brad Gushue of St. John's, NL, will skip the Canadian team.

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