Homan completes comeback to capture KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup women’s title
REGINA — Rachel Homan wrapped up the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season claiming a record-extending 13th career women’s title in the series.
Homan rallied from an early 4-0 deficit to edge Kerri Einarson 6-5 in an extra end during the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup women’s final Sunday at the Co-operators Centre.
The Ottawa-based club of Homan, third Tracy Fleury, second Emma Miskew and lead Rachelle Brown, who was filling in for Sarah Wilkes, cashed in $25,000 from the $210,000 combined prize purse.
If Homan had to describe the crazy comeback victory in one word, it would be: “unreal.”
“Even the way that we won was pretty gritty and never let up,” Homan said. “Obviously, we struggled with the ice conditions early, but we figured them out and kept making more shots.
“It was just an unreal feeling to win and battle back. Obviously, we have a different lineup this week, so some new challenges with a new lineup and team. It was just a great effort by our team.”
Team Homan retooled the roster last year when lead Joanne Courtney stepped back from competitive curling. Miskew and Wilkes slid down in the throwing order to accommodate the arrival of Fleury, who previously skipped her own squad. Fleury continued to call the shots in the house upon arrival as Homan picked up sweeping duties.
They required additional shuffling with Wilkes going on maternity leave last month while Homan returned to skipping this week as she is also expecting a baby.
The Champions Cup was the third Grand Slam final this season between the two powerhouse clubs and a rubber match as Homan was victorious at the HearingLife Tour Challenge in October while Einarson earned the WFG Masters in December during the rematch.
Brendan Bottcher beat Brad Gushue 5-3 to win the men’s title earlier Sunday as both finals feature all-Canadian clashes.
“We had a phenomenal season as a team and it just goes to show you how much work we put in that we were able to perform right away as a new team,” Homan said. “I mean, there are a lot of new teams this year that did phenomenal as well, so it’s been a great year of change.
“I think everybody needed a bit of a change across the board and we’ve seen lots of good results from Canadian teams. It was great to see four Canadian teams in the final here. That’s huge for Canada.”
Homan won the draw-to-the-button shootout to start with the hammer, but it was Einarson who slid away with the lead to begin. Einarson stole a single point off the bat in the opening frame after making a great pool-style angle-raise takeout and Homan was unable to make a double.
It was 2-0 after two as Homan attempted an in-turn, cross-house double, but her shooter rolled under the second counter. Einarson doubled her lead in the third when Homan came up light on her last to fall behind by four points.
The pressure was still high in the fourth as Einarson sat five counters, and possibly six with a biter, but Homan drew right to the button to get on the board heading into the break as the momentum pendulum started to swing.
Einarson, who entered the event as the defending champion, finally held the hammer but gave up back-to-back single steals as she came up short on a draw in the fifth and jammed a double attempt in the sixth allowing Homan to close within one.
It looked like Einarson was going to blank the seventh end and retain the hammer coming home, however, her hit-and-roll remained in the rings for a single to make it 5-3.
After Homan tapped her own to sit two, Einarson attempted to bump in from the side. Both teams had their rocks right on the button but it was Homan’s stone that was covering the pin for the nail-biting win.
“We just kept learning from our mistakes,” Homan said. “We kept thinking that the ice was OK but it got really slow and we had to believe it. We finally believed it then we started making more shots.”
The Gimli, Man., club of Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Harris, with Dawn McEwen subbing this week, had an amazing season in the series reaching the final in five of the six tournaments.
Einarson, who captured the Pinty’s Cup season championship last month, earned $17,000 this week as runner-up.
The Grand Slam of Curling returns in the fall with the HearingLife Tour Challenge kicking off the 2023-24 season, Oct. 17-22, at the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls, Ont.