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Homan tops Einarson in Tour Challenge final to win 12th Grand Slam title

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — Rachel Homan claimed a record-extending 12th Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s title after defeating Kerri Einarson 8-4 Sunday in the HearingLife Tour Challenge final at the Coca-Cola Centre.

Although that makes it a dozen for Homan, it’s her first with her new reconfigured lineup. Skip Tracy Fleury joined the squad this season to throw third and hold the broom with Emma Miskew sliding over to second and Sarah Wilkes moving to lead. Team Homan also added Ryan Fry as their new coach.

The Ottawa-based club cashed in $35,000 plus 12 Pinty’s Cup points.

“Unbelievable,” Homan said. “To win a Slam so early with a brand new team feels so good. Everyone’s been working so hard, trying to figure out things in a hurry, competing against teams that have been together for several years now, established teams. We know where we want to be, I still don’t think we’re there yet, but we’ve still got to keep pushing and keep getting better.

“It’s just phenomenal, and I’m so proud of the team for grinding it out. We had such tough games — round-robin, even the quarters and semis — just making it on the last shots.”

It was the fourth consecutive Grand Slam final and second consecutive runner-up result for the Gimli, Man., team of Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Harris. Einarson, who is a four-time champion in the series, earned $20,000 and nine Pinty’s Cup points.

Homan opened with the hammer and converted for a deuce off the bat, however, a misfire on her last shot in the second end allowed Einarson to jump ahead and draw for three points.

Team Homan shook it off and replied right back by counting a three-ball of their own in the third to re-establish the two-point hold at 5-3.

“Just a little outside on her last one and that shot was barely there but great sweeping kind of got us that three,” Homan said. “A great line call, and I think that set the tone for the game. Just keep the pedal down. They’re a great team and they can snap a three on you really quick.”

After Einarson was limited to a single in the fourth, Homan continued to control the game scoring another deuce in the sixth.

That forced Einarson to go big in the seventh and attempt a multiple takeout. After the dust settled, Homan was still sitting shot rock to tack a stolen point on the board and out came the handshakes.

“It was a great battle against Einarson today,” Homan said. “They were phenomenal and just a shot here or there really.”

Meanwhile, Vancouver’s Team Clancy Grandy downed Edmonton’s Team Jessie Hunkin 8-2 in the Tier 2 final to receive a promotion into the top flight at the next Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event, the WFG Masters, taking place Dec. 6-11, in Oakville, Ont.

“It feels awesome,” said Grandy, who won the 2016 Masters while playing third for Allison Flaxey. “We really came to play as a team today. We came and we were watching all week just hoping that we’d be able to get to this point, so we made the most of the opportunity for sure.” 

Grandy, who is from Ontario, linked up with the B.C.-based trio of third Kayla McMillan, second Lindsay Dubue and lead Sarah Loken just this season.

“The three of them had a really strong base already, which made things easy for me stepping in,” Grandy said. “We put in a lot of the work off the ice over the summer, and I think that’s what translated to an easier transition on the ice when our season started.”

Earlier Sunday, Oskar Eriksson skipped Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin to the HearingLife Tour Challenge men’s title with a 7-3 win over Team Matt Dunstone from Winnipeg. Team Korey Dropkin from the United States won the Tier 2 trophy by defeating Calgary’s Team Aaron Sluchinski 6-3.