Uh-oh and 3: Canada winless in women's Olympic curling

Homan misses last shot in extra end against Denmark to lose 3rd straight game

Uh-oh and 3: Canada winless in women's Olympic curling
Canada's skip Rachel Homan is in danger of not qualifying for the medal round. © Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

By Devin Heroux, CBC Sports

Never before has a Canadian women's curling team started with three straight losses at the Olympics — until now. And Rachel Homan's rink is also the only team without a win at this point of the tournament in Pyeongchang.

Homan and her team out of Ottawa dropped their third straight game to begin the Olympic curling competition — an extra-end collapse against Denmark Friday at the Gangneung Curling Venue.

With her last throw, Homan's stone clipped a guard in front of the house, failing to reach its intended destination and handing the Danes a 9-8 win — their first of the competition.

"They're the favourites and were 0-2. They were terrified to be 0-3 and you could tell," said Danish skip Madeleine Dupont. "I think we're just really ready to play and enjoy it, have fun like we do every game. I think Canada were afraid to lose."

Throughout the game Homan seemed unsettled, questioning the ice, weight and what shots to call. After the game the Canadian skip was trying to remain positive.

Searching for answers

"We're feeling really good going out there and then just missing a couple shots here or there. We just have to stick together and play well," she said.

After the loss, coach Adam Kingsbury was searching for answers to why this team is in this spot at the Olympics.

"I'm kind of at a loss for words in this moment," he said. "I feel terrible for skipper. I've watched her play for so long now. Those things happen. I get it. You miss shots — but in this stage, in this moment, in a critical spot, to have a miss like that, she's going to feel devastated."

Kingsbury was brought in to coach this team two years ago. He's not a traditional curling coach. He was brought in because of his sports psychology background and his focus on the mental aspect of the game. Team Homan has worked relentlessly to get to a place where they aren't vulnerable to difficult moments and they can overcome mental breakdowns during competitions.

Now Kingsbury has his greatest task yet with this team — trying to get them to believe again.

"It's my responsibility to be that person. I have to be that person. We're going to have some meaningful dialogue this evening and see what we can do," he said. "There's no other choice. Now we have to play our hearts out and be that team immediately that we know we can be."

VIDEO | Women's curling Canada vs. Denmark

A key — and controversial — moment in the game came in the fifth end.

A Danish rock was about to come to a rest in the rings, a perfect stone really, when one of their sweeper's broom hit the top of the rock.

That's what's called a burned rock — at that point the non-offending team, Canada, is allowed to decide whether to remove the rock or not. Homan could have also decided that it didn't influence the play and leave the rock, or tapped it a little bit one way or the other. More often than not, curling etiquette would suggest leaving the rock.

Homan took it out of play.

VIDEO | Karma returns to burn Rachel Homan

She would go on to make a hit for four in the end. After the game Denmark skip Dupont did not mince her words about Homan's decision to remove the rock as quickly as she did.

"It's quite unusual. If it had been burned out there in the middle of the sheet, any team would have done that. But right there in the house, the rock had just about stopped. That never happens."


Dupont followed that up with this:

"I was thinking I'm pretty sure karma will hit you at some point."

As for the way Homan saw it?

"They burnt the rock. As the non-offending team we can remove it."

CBC Olympics curling commentator and 1998 Olympic gold medallist Joan McCusker expressed her disappointment in Homan's decision to remove the rock during the broadcast.

"I think that was a rash move to take it off. They should have left it in play. It doesn't look good on you."

Team Homan's alternate, Cheryl Bernard, knows Olympic disappointment all too well. She missed her last shot in the gold-medal game at the Olympics in 2010 in Vancouver. All these years later, she's back at the Games and trying to bring a veteran experience in this difficult moment.

Still believing

"It's a snowball effect right now," she said. "Then you start second guessing where you put the broom down."

Canada's next Olympic game in South Korea isn't for another day and a half. They face the U.S. Saturday night. Bernard said the break is needed right now.

"At this point, it's all mental. This is a tough stage to do this on, but I believe in this team. I honestly do. This is a resilient team. They will do it," Bernard said.

The coach agrees. Kingsbury said it's time to get vulnerable with each other again, and move forward.

"There's no other option but for us to sit down and figure out a way to rally. There's no other option."