Rachel Homan retained her sense of humour, although it was shade darker after a humbling 8-2 loss to Switzerland at the Ford Women’s World Curling Championship on Sunday.
“We can’t play worse, so that’s good,” the Canadian skip said wryly after shaking hands with the Swiss after just eight ends.
“We really didn’t play our game, as you probably noticed.”
After cruising to wins over mistake-prone Russia and Czech Republic to open the championship, Homan’s Ottawa team ran up against a crisper Swiss foursome skipped by Binia Feltscher.
She won an Olympic silver medal in 2006 playing third for Mirjam Ott in Turin, Italy.
Switzerland and Allison Pottinger of the United States topped the standings at 3-0 heading into Monday.
Canada dropped to 2-1 and into a tie with Russia’s Anna Sidorova, Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson and South Korea’s Ji-sun Kim. The top four teams at the conclusion of the round robin advance to the Page playoff.
Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont, Latvia’s Evita Regza, China’s Liu Sijia and Scotland’s Kerry Barr were 1-2 ahead of winless Anne Kubeskova of the Czech Republic and Oona Lehmann of Germany at 0-3.
A string of wins by Homan, vice Emma Miskew and front end Alison Kreviazuk and Lisa Weagle snapped at 15 with the defeat. They went 13-0 to win the Canadian championship in Montreal.
Beltscher’s finesse tap cleared two Canadian stones to score three and lead 4-2 after five ends. The Canadians then gave up four stolen points over the next three ends as Homan tried higher-risk shots to get her team back in the game.
The host country has Monday morning off before facing Denmark and unbeaten United States.
“We’re going to sleep in, get some rest and play a lot better than that,” Homan said.
Kreviazuk and Weagle outcurled Switzerland’s front end, but Feltscher and Swiss third Irene Schori posted shooting percentages of 81 and 80, respectively, to Homan’s 72 and Miskew’s 77.
“We are very excited,” Schori said. “It’s amazing to win against Canada.”
Homan attempted a long runback double takeout to score two in the seventh and get back in the game. The Canadian skip didn’t clear any granite and gave up a steal of two to trail 7-2 heading into eight.
“At that point, two would have put us back in the game and changed it around,” she said. “We’re not playing well so we needed something big. We had to try it and go for something.”
In the sixth, Homan threw big weight for an attempted hit and stick for two, but her shooter spun away from the button to give up the steal of one.
Canada doubled the Czechs 8-4 earlier Sunday.
Homan’s team won the bronze medal in her first world championship last year. Her team took talking to a new level this winter. Coach Earle Morris listened in on their conversations via headphones to help the four women make every word count on the ice.
Curling teams wear microphones when they are the featured game on national television, so viewers can hear their interaction.
But Morris also listened in on their World Curling Tour games at curling clubs where teams didn’t wear microphones for television — in Calgary’s Autumn Gold Classic in October for example.
The point of Morris’s eavesdropping this season was to hear Homan and her teammates communicate effectively and consistently no matter what the game’s stakes were.
Morris took notes and after a game, he pointed to instances where what they said to each other helped them execute and win. He also pointed to situations where they needed to communicate more clearly.
“Sometimes a player maybe has some information that they have to share on the shot, but didn’t say at the time,” Kreviazuk explained.
“You’ll miss a shot for that reason. After, a person will say ’Actually I knew (the ice) was straight there. I should have said something.’ So making sure all the information is gathered before making the shot and everyone has a piece of the discussion.
“It’s something we’ve really, really stressed this year. I think we’ve really nailed our discussions.”
Morris has known Homan, 24, since she was five years old and trailing after her old brother Mark, who played on a team with Earle’s son John.
Earle Morris has coached Homan’s teams since she was 13 with the exception of 2010 to 2012, when he coached Jennifer Jones for one season and took a year’s hiatus from coaching for another.
Homan and Miskew have been constant teammates since their junior curling days and often with Kreviazuk, who is a year older than them.
When Homan’s team is curling their best, it’s not just shot execution, but their trust and confidence in each other that is the magic ingredient, Morris says.
“When it’s all there, it’s all about team dynamics,” Morris explained. “We try to be very positive about our stuff. If the results are not there like we expect them, then we go looking for why and try to figure it out.
“Sometimes it’s because we don’t communicate effectively like we want to on the ice, but our communication has really improved this year.
“I’m very proud of it because we spent lots of time . . . on making sure we communicate more effectively. The more effectively you communicate on the ice, the more chances you have of making more shots.”
Kreviazuk, who is a distant cousin of Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk, says the team is so accustomed to wearing microphones in national and international events, they didn’t feel self-conscious when Morris listened in at curling clubs.
“We’ve worn mics so many times that sometimes you just forget you have it on,” she said. “You hardly notice they’re there.”