Team Homan sticking to the script in women's curling

When Rachel Homan’s Ottawa curling rink takes to the ice as Team Canada at the Olympics, they’ll be following a plan they mapped out more than a year ago.

Canadian Olympic favourites thrive on routine

Team Homan's Olympic plan has come to fruition after, from left, Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney and Lisa Weagle won the Canadian trials in their hometown of Ottawa. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

By Devin Heroux, CBC Sports

When Rachel Homan's Ottawa curling rink takes to the ice as Team Canada at the Olympics, they'll be following a plan they mapped out more than a year ago. 

Everything from what they ate, how they trained, daily routines — all the details — were planned. And everything is going according to script. 

"Nothings changes now," Homan said. "We're not making anything bigger than it is. We're trying to keep it all the same."

The team had a first-draw bye before it begins play against host South Korea on Thursday morning (Wednesday night at 7pm ET in Canada).

It was right around this time last year that Homan's team captured the Canadian title at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. They followed it up with an historic undefeated world championship. Then they rolled into their hometown of Ottawa and won a trip to the Olympics by taking the Canadian trials. 

They talked about all of this. Imagined all of this. Earlier this week in South Korea, in their first practice, they realized it all.

"It's a dream come true," said Joanne Courtney, the team's second. "Olympic rings are everywhere. The best of the best are here. And we get to put on Canada gear every day. It's the most incredible feeling and it's easy to get motivated for whatever we have to do in the day."

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Preparation makes this team tick. Two years ago, they brought on coach Adam Kingsbury to hone the mental aspects of not only their games but their lives.

Kingsbury has encouraged them to be vulnerable with one another, to talk about their fears and what they imagine success looks like. And they all came up with routines that work for them.

"We don't have to do anything new or fancy to do really well here," Lisa Weagle, the team's lead, said. "We have to be ourselves and remember all the little things that got us here."

They are the favourites to win Olympic gold. That's the reality of representing Canada in curling. But they're not allowing themselves to think about that just yet.

"We know that we can't look to the end result now. We're just focused on what we need to in every individual game," Homan said.

Routine, routine, routine

Every member of the team does exactly the same thing before every shot. It's a diagnostic check-in to make sure they'll all present. 

"We have a lot of systems in place," Courtney said. "When we all trust in that, good things happen."

When the team competed at the trials in Ottawam they rented a house, lived together, ate together, traveled to the rink together — they went into a bubble.

"It's such a big stage and so much more pressure. We're going to isolate our team here again and make sure we're together and go through the same routine as trials," Homan said.

The skip cooked the team breakfast most mornings during those trials. She wouldn't say if she'd be serving up scrambled eggs in South Korea. However, the routine will be similar. 

"We're trying to protect our team bubble and, as we get closer to competition, even more so," third Emma Miskew said.

Alternate experience

Cheryl Bernard is back at her second Olympics. She's Team Homan's fifth at these Games after winning silver as a skip at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. 

While that experience didn't end the way she wanted it to, Bernard says she wouldn't have done anything different.

"I know the disappointment of not winning a gold. I've been there and done that, but you come away with this as a journey," she said. 

"I have no regrets. Not one. I wondered when I came back here if I would. And I don't."

But she does want to be part of a gold-medal team at the Olympics and believes this group is more than capable of doing it.

"It's been a thrill for me to watch all of this through their eyes. Now I just want to get this going and watch these guys do what they came here to do."

Bernard has been preparing for a number of scenarios — everything from potentially playing, to being a mentor to being a friend. She says whatever she has to do to help this team win, she'll do. 

"It's difficult because I'm trying to prepare to play in case anything happens. The chances of that are slim, but I'm trying to anticipate all of their needs."