Rachel Homan shoots a stone during the ninth draw of the Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge in Regina. (Anil Mungal)

Homan tops Wang to stay in mix at Tour Challenge

September 7, 2017, 9:13 PM

REGINA — Reigning world champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa is still in contention at the Tour Challenge.

After dropping her first couple games of the season-opening Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event, Homan scored an 8-6 victory over Bingyu Wang during Draw 9 action Thursday.

Both teams hold identical 1-2 records and still need to win their remaining round-robin games Friday.

“Everyone has had weekends where they haven’t qualified before and everyone kind of focuses on us because we haven’t had very many of them,” Team Homan third Emma Miskew said. “We came off of an event in mixed doubles and we’re playing as a team and the ice there is completely not anywhere close to the ice that we have here.

“It’s a big transition trying to adjust to the ice surface compared to what we had at the mixed doubles but we’re just learning out there, trying to have one more game as a team and we just want to keep playing.”

Things didn’t start out as planned for Homan, who was forced to a single in the first and misfired her last in the second allowing Wang to draw for four points and take a 4-1 lead.

Homan charged right back and took control in the third end. Wang’s final rock hooked and Homan capitalized to score three and make it all square at 4-4.

The pressure was on in five with Wang drawing for one against a triangle of counters. Homan took the lead in the sixth with a deuce after Wang struggled and over-curled.

A chance for Wang to score two in the seventh failed as she was light on the draw, but tied it 6-6 heading into the eighth. Homan held the hammer coming home and opted to hit for a double and a deuce.

“They were making a lot of shots, we could see that and it’s not easy out there. It’s a bit challenging so Rachel’s shot in the second didn’t really work out as we thought it would,” Miskew said. “We just tried to bounce back and when you can take a three right back it definitely changes the momentum back at least to being neutral and not completely against us.

“From then on we were just trying to make our shots and we had her facing a lot and she was making some good shots to keep in the game. It was great that we were able to be tied with hammer coming home and have a nice last shot to throw.”

Homan lost to Jacqueline Harrison of Mississauga, Ont., 7-6 Tuesday evening and gave up a single steal in the eighth to Edmonton’s Val Sweeting to fall 6-4 Wednesday afternoon.

“We lost two really close games the last two, so we were 0-2 but we felt we could be 3-0,” Miskew said. “Both games could have gone either way, we had a shot to win yesterday and just squeaked by. It’s been a struggle and we’re really just trying to stay patient. It’s the first event of the year, we’re not trying to peak in September, it’s just about being patient, taking our time and hopefully it works out tomorrow.”

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Meanwhile, Sweeting and Alina Paetz of Switzerland are both clear through to the quarterfinals with 4-0 records.

Sweeting made a clutch draw in the extra end to edge Scotland’s Eve Muirhead 4-3 while Paetz scored two in the eighth to defeat Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones 8-6. The 2014 Olympic gold medallist Jones holds a 2-1 record.

Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg improved to a 2-1 record by doubling up on Julie Tippin (1-2) of Woodstock, Ont., 8-4.

Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., is also still in playoff reach after scoring three in the eighth to come back and beat Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., 6-5. Both teams hold 1-2 records.

NOTES: The Tour Challenge runs through to Sunday at the Co-operators Centre at Evraz Place. … Winners of the Tier 1 division receive invites to the season-ending Pinty’s GSOC event, the Humpty’s Champions Cup, running April 24-29 in Calgary. … Winners of the Tier 2 division earn berths to the following Pinty’s GSOC event, the Masters, taking place Oct. 24-29 in Lloydminster, Sask.