Canada's Rachel Homan opens with loss at curling worlds
Drops opener to Scotland's Eve Muirhead, 6-4
After consistently outplaying the opposition en route to her first national title, Canadian skip Rachel Homan was due for a clunker.
It came in her first appearance at the world women's curling championship at Riga, Latvia.
Homan started off slowly and never found her rhythm Saturday at the Volvo Sports Center, dropping a 6-4 decision to Eve Muirhead of Scotland.
The Canadian skip fell behind early in the round-robin opener for both teams. Canada tied the game in the seventh end but Scotland scored one in the eighth and stole another point in the ninth.
"We made several mistakes, probably way more than we normally make," Homan said. "We'll learn from them and play much better next game."
Homan shot just 73 per cent on the day, well behind Muirhead at 92 per cent. Scotland shot 81 per cent as a team to 74 per cent for Canada.
"It might be a little nerves," said Canadian coach Earle Morris. "We would not expect to have that happen again. But I was really proud of how they were able to fight back.
"They held their composure and then we just had a little tough luck in the ninth end, gave up a steal and that was the game."
Homan and her teammates from the Ottawa Curling Club came in full of confidence after losing just one round-robin game at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month in Kingston, Ont.
But it was Muirhead — a four-time world junior champion — who set the early tone.
She started strong and forced Homan to go for a triple takeout with her final throw of the first end. The Canadian skip managed to clear two stones and Muirhead came through with a draw for a 2-0 lead.
Canada gave up another point in the second end after Alison Kreviazuk burned a rock. The Canadian second lost her balance while sweeping and her knee touched the stone as she fell to the ice.
Homan finally got on the board in the fifth end. She used her last-rock advantage to draw inside the four-foot to score a pair.
Muirhead padded her lead in the sixth end with a takeout to score one but Homan came through with a tricky takeout for two to pull even in the seventh. The Scottish skip took the lead again with a single in the eighth end.
Canada had an error-filled ninth end and it proved costly. Kreviazuk and third Emma Miskew were both visibly frustrated with their efforts and Homan also had trouble.
Miskew had an unlucky pick and Homan couldn't get past a guard with her first stone. Her second throw was heavy to allow Scotland to steal a point.
"It was too bad, the game could have gone a lot differently had we not had that pick," Homan said. "That's all right, that's the way the game goes sometimes. You just learn from it and move on.
"That wasn't the only mistake we made, that's for sure."
The Canadian team arrived in Latvia on Wednesday evening and held two practice sessions before the game — one at a local club and one at the tournament venue.
"It's the first time on this ice so you haven't got it all figured out," Morris said. "You haven't figured out the weight.
"You don't necessarily have the rocks figured out as well as you might and so when you're trying to play tougher shots as we did in the ninth, sometimes they don't end up where you expect them."
Muirhead was steady throughout and seemed to always be in control.
"We just played consistently well and scored in the right ends," she said.
Canada is scheduled to play Denmark and host Latvia on Sunday. Morris is expecting a bounce-back effort from the Canadian side.
"I expect that they'll be a little frustrated, a little angry that they didn't get a W and didn't play better," he said. "So I think we'll be really good the next game."
Round-robin play will continue through Thursday, with the medal games set for March 24.
A couple hundred fans were in attendance in the cosy 1,000-seat arena. There are just a few rows of seating on either side of the ice.
Homan skipped Canada to a silver medal at the 2010 world junior championships. She is hoping to win Canada's first world women's title since Manitoba's Jennifer Jones won in 2008.
Edmonton skip Heather Nedohin finished third at last year's world championship in Lethbridge, Alta. Switzerland's Mirjam Ott beat Margaretha Sigfridsson of Sweden for the 2012 title.
There were some high-scoring games in the tournament's opening draw. American Erika Brown dumped Italy's Diana Gaspari 10-3 and two-time world champion Andrea Schopp of Germany outscored Russia's Anna Sidorova 11-9.
Denmark's Lene Nielsen topped China's Bingyu Wang 11-4 and Switzerland's Silvana Tirinzoni edged Japan's Satsuki Fujisawa 7-6.
In the evening, Tirinzoni whipped Italy 9-3 to sit on top of the leaderboard at 2-0. Russia beat China 6-4 and Sigfridsson opened with a 7-4 win over Latvia's Iveta Stasa-Satsune.