It was a successful week in Kingston with the four teams that many would put in the playoffs battling this past weekend for the 2013 Scotties Tournament of Hearts title. In the end, it was the home province, Ontario, which came out on top in an event that marked the possible end of a legend in women’s curling at the Scotties.
Rachel Homan and her team were not going to be overlooked leading up to the Scotties this year. In their only other appearance, her rink went 8-3 and finished 4th. Homan along with runner-up Jennifer Jones of Manitoba, Kelly Scott of BC and Heather Nedohin as the defending champion were also among the favorites to take the title. This is exactly how it would play out into the playoffs. Rachel Homan and her Ottawa team stepped it up and dominated in beating 4-time Scotties Champion Jennifer Jones twice, including the final.
Homan employed a few different tactics including using the tick shot more frequently than other teams have put it to use, normally just late in games. This seemed to frustrate other teams including Jones as they could not put the pressure on without having those center guards. The Homan team also threw up weight accurately throughout the lineup, earning the respect of opposing teams. This was highlighted by a double takeout in the final and the key shot in the match in End 7.
“This feeling’s unbelievable,” said Homan. “Our first win at the Scotties, and just unbelievable that my team could do it at such a young age. I’m just so proud of my team.”
The tick shot strategy is great and only if you make it, Ontario lead Lisa Weagle was perfect all week long. In fact, she was given the Sandra Schmirler Most Valuable Player Award. This is out of the norm as the lead position is often overlooked. The award is well deserved and sets a new precedent for all future leads in curling.
It was a disappointing finish for Team Manitoba as they lost two of their three playoff games after completing the first undefeated round robin record in the current 12 team format and first since 1985 when Linda Moore completed the feat.
Jennifer Jones admitted that, “They played lights out and they deserved to win today.”
The loss for Jones is another year without a championship after making the change at third from Cathy Overton-Clapham to Kaitlyn Lawes in 2011. They have set the bar high for themselves finishing with two silver medals and a bronze in the three years since the switch. They will now set their sights on the Olympic Curling Trials in their backyard, in December 2013.
The 2013 Scotties may be known as the coming out party for Rachel Homan, but also the goodbye to arguably the best Canadian women’s curler. Colleen Jones returned after seven years since her last trip to the Scotties and made her 21st appearance, in five different decades. She is still the youngest champion ever when she was 22 years old winning her first title in 1982 to her last triumph in 2004.
In the final draw Friday night, the crowd at the K-Rock Centre saluted her final game, a 6-2 win as second for Nova Scotia which brought tears to Colleen and her teammate’s eyes.
“It was nice to finish with a win, and it was nice just to play in the Scotties again,” said Jones. “It’s been seven years since my last one and this was very special to come back in a different position, different role, and get another kick at the can.”
As Colleen Jones rides off onto the Canadian Curling sunset, she witnessed a new champion at 23 years of age being crowned 41 years after she won her first Canadian title.
Homan and her team will wear the Maple Leaf in Riga, Latvia for the 2013 World Women’s Curling Championship March 16 – March 24. She will have chance to exact some revenge against Scotland’s Eve Muirhead who beat Homan in the 2010 World Junior Final, as Scotland and Canada will enter as the favorites.