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Canadian curlers build team spirit after 30-hour airport delay

Canada's skip Rachel Homan, right, and lead Lisa Weagle pose for a picture during a practice session at the world women's curling championship in Riga, Latvia on Friday, March 15, 2013.


Canadian skip Rachel Homan took a few pictures Friday shortly after stepping into the playing area on the eve of her first appearance at the women's world curling championship.

She then raised a hand to her mouth to stifle a yawn. You can't blame her for feeling tired.

Homan and her rink from the Ottawa Curling Club were hamstrung by a blast of winter weather that forced an extended layover on their trip to Latvia this week. They were stuck in the Frankfurt airport for more than 30 hours after a dumping of snow forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights across Europe.

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"It builds character, I guess," Canadian third Emma Miskew said. "We sucked it up and we got through the whole airport experience. It feels nice to get here. I appreciate a bed a lot more now."

The Canadians arrived in Germany on Tuesday morning and planned to catch a connecting flight to Riga. Instead, a series of cancellations and postponements forced them to wait. With city hotels all booked, the Canadians were left with no option but to settle into a quiet corner of the terminal. They killed time by checking out the retail outlets, chatting and playing cards.

"The terminal we were in didn't have a ton of stuff to do, so we did a lot of browsing through the same stores not expecting to find anything new," Miskew said with a laugh.

When night rolled around, the players curled up on benches to get some rest. Each player used a travel cushion as a pillow.

"We all had three seats to lay across and get a few hours of sleep," alternate Stephanie LeDrew said.

They finally boarded a midafternoon flight Wednesday and were pleased that all of their luggage and equipment made it as well. Homan and crew practised at a local rink Thursday and had some badly needed massage therapy done. They were feeling much better at Friday's practice session after two consecutive nights of quality sleep.

"It's a good test for your team dynamics," LeDrew said. "If you can get through that kind of experience as a team and come out the other end smiling, then you're doing well. You can get through a couple of hiccups on the ice."

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Homan will open against Eve Muirhead of Scotland on Saturday at the Volvo Sports Center. Round-robin play will continue through Thursday with the medal games set for March 24.

Homan, Miskew, second Alison Kreviazuk and lead Lisa Weagle won their first Canadian title last month in Kingston by defeating Manitoba's Jennifer Jones in the gold-medal game at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

"We're just going to keep playing with our strategy that's been working for us through the whole way here," Homan said. "Just stick with our game plan, no matter what team we're playing. It doesn't matter what country it is."

Homan will attempt to give Canada its first world women's title since Jones won in 2008.

The tournament will be the last chance for countries to gather qualifying points to make the field for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Canada has already locked up a spot in the Olympic tournament. The Canadian representative will be determined at in Winnipeg in December.

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