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Homan wins Canadian Open for record 10th GSOC women’s title

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Ottawa’s Rachel Homan rolled right through the Meridian Canadian Open and into the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling record books.

Homan captured her record 10th women’s title in the series after her team edged Silvana Tirinzoni’s Swiss squad 4-3 in Sunday’s final at Civic Centre.

The team of Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle have been on a scorching streak appearing in four consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling finals and winning three straight. Homan claimed the Tour Challenge and closed out 2018 winning the Boost National that had tied Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones for No. 1.

“It feels great,” Miskew said. “We actually weren’t thinking about that at all until we saw it up on the screen after. It’s exciting. We just like to do well in all of these events, so it’s awesome, and Rachel kind of carried us to the win there. She had a great game and we’re happy she’s our skip.”

Team Homan maintained their momentum going undefeated at the Meridian Canadian Open by qualifying for the playoffs through the A Event of the triple knockout at 3-0, eliminating Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., in the quarterfinals and Team Nina Roth of the United States in the semis on Saturday.

“It feels amazing,” said Homan, who earned $30,000 of the $250,000 total purse. “Off the Christmas break for us to regroup and put in the work to make sure that we were ready for this weekend, that was really important for us to do well here. We were able to accomplish our goals here, the team played so strong the whole way through and found a way to win.”

Homan opened with the hammer but gave up a steal to start as her last rock crashed out on a guard to concede a point. Team Tirinzoni fourth Alina Paetz navigated through a narrow port to pick out Homan’s shot rock and sit two in the second that forced Homan to draw for just a single.

Tirinzoni blanked back-to-back ends to retain the hammer but lost the lead in the fifth as Homan turned the tables to collect a steal of her own as Paetz took on a gutsy runback double attempt to try and remove Homan’s shot stone but missed the mark.

A great shot from Homan to bump one of her rocks over and undercover by the pinhole in six set up another steal to extend her lead 3-1 as Paetz attempted another runback that went awry.

Paetz misfired again in seven on an in-off, however, Plan B worked just as well as it connected with another rock and rolled into the house to eliminate Homan’s shot stone for the tying deuce. Still, that meant Homan was in charge with the hammer for the decisive final frame.

“It was huge to get that steal in the even end to put us up two going two ends to go,” said Homan, who shot a team-leading 82 per cent. “We really liked our chances and even when we gave up that two on the in-off, it didn’t really matter. We knew we had control going home. It’s kind of the position we wanted to be in.”

Miskew had struggled during the match but finished strong with two perfect shots and keep things open enough for Homan to make no mistake with her rocks either and deliver the winning draw into the four-foot circle.

“In the last end with hammer, we just try to make sure that she has the four-foot and that was the goal there,” Miskew said. “I had to let go of what happened. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. I was happy to make sure that she had the four-foot to draw to.”

Team Tirinzoni ousted Jones in the C Event finals Friday night to squeeze into the playoff picture, eliminated North Battleford’s own Team Robyn Silvernagle in the quarterfinals and cooled Team Eve Muirhead of Scotland in the semis.

Tirinzoni, who topped Homan to win the 2015 Tour Challenge title, appeared in her second Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling final this season finishing runner-up to Anna Hasselborg’s Swedish squad at the Princess Auto Elite 10 in September.

The Meridian Canadian Open is the only one of the seven Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments to use a 16-team triple knockout preliminary format — instead of round-robin pool play — where teams must win three games before they lose three in order to qualify for the playoffs.

Earlier, Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher completed an undefeated run as well on the men’s side beating Toronto’s Team John Epping 6-3 to win their first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championship.

NOTES: The Meridian Canadian Open was the fifth event and third major of the 2018-19 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. … Legendary skip Kevin Martin holds the record for most men’s titles won in the series at 18. … The series takes a bit of a break resuming with the Players’ Championship in Toronto running April 9-14 at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.