Rachel Homan shoots a stone during the Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

Homan tops Sidorova to stay in C-side at Canadian Open

January 6, 2017, 12:32 PM

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Defending champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa is still in the running at the Meridian Canadian Open.

Homan threw a perfect 100 percent to punt Russia’s Anna Sidorova 8-3 in a must-win C-side match of the triple knockout preliminary round Friday.

The five-time Grand Slam champ Homan (1-2) has never missed the playoffs in the series through 18 appearances and is not out of the woods yet as she needs a pair of victories in order to qualify.

Homan opened with the hammer and looked to blank the first by hitting Sidorova’s counter on the nose just at the top of the 12-foot circle. A measurement confirmed her shooter stuck just outside the house. Homan tapped for two in the second to open the scoring and grabbed another point in three as she sat a trio of counters and Sidorova hit and rubbed off the shot rock.

Sidorova bounced back drawing for two in the fourth, but Homan cushioned her lead with an open hit to score four in the fifth. The teams split singles in six and seven as Homan reclaimed the five-point advantage and they shook hands.

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Elsewhere, Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg held off Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., 7-6 to reach the B-qualifiers. Hasselborg faces Michelle Englot’s team from Winnipeg.

Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque scraped out a 4-3 win over Bingyu Wang of China to reach the B qualifiers and will play WFG Masters champ Allison Flaxey of Caledon, Ont., for a playoff spot.

In the men’s division, there will be a new Meridian Canadian Open winner this season after Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher eliminated reigning champ John Epping 8-3 in six ends in C-side action.

Epping could only get a single in the first with the hammer advantage and Bottcher pulled ahead with a three-ender in the second. The Toronto native Epping attempted an angle raise in the third as he looked to make a double, but could only get one out, and fell way behind giving up three in the fourth as his last didn’t make it to the rings. Epping took two in the fifth but shook hands after Bottcher tacked another point to the scoreboard in six.

Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock doubled up on Greg Balsdon, of Kingston, Ont., 8-4. Laycock dropped his first couple games to fall to the C-side early and has now won two straight to level his record.

NOTES: The Meridian Canadian Open is the fourth event and third major of the 2016-17 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. … Teams must win three games before they lose three in order to qualify for the playoffs. … Winners of the Meridian Canadian Open earn spots for the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup taking place at the end of April in Calgary.