By Ethan Diamandas
The 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games were a disappointment for Canada’s women’s curling team.
Skipped by Rachel Homan, Canada got off to a sluggish start and Great Britain eventually knocked off the defending champions in a crushing late-match defeat. The loss meant Canada failed to medal in the Olympics for the first time since women’s curling joined the Games in 1998.
“We did everything we could at the last Olympics, and it wasn’t good enough,” Homan told the Sports Pages from her quarantine residence in Canmore, Alta.
With the sixth-place finish in South Korea behind her, the 2022 Beijing Olympics offer Homan a chance to restart. Since her rink didn’t qualify for the women’s team event, Homan now attacks her second Olympics, this time in the mixed doubles format — and there’s a strong chance she curls her way to a gold medal.
Paired alongside decorated men’s curler and fellow Ottawa native John Morris, Homan recognized how talented the international curling scene is, and that fuels her own desire to win.
“There’s absolutely no easy games and that’s the way you want it,” Homan said. “You want the Olympics to be the ultimate competition and to try and push yourself and see what you can accomplish.”
As a vicious competitor herself, the Homan-Morris union is perfect on multiple levels. First, Morris — the only male curler to win multiple Olympic gold medals — brings an exclusive level of experience on the ice that other partners can’t provide.
“[Morris is] the best in the world at what he does,” Homan said. “And he’s super supportive [with] anything that I need in training and vice versa. He’s got 10 more years of curling under his belt than I do.”
The duo also has long-established trust in one another. Morris and Homan nearly competed in mixed doubles together for the 2018 Canadian Olympic trials, but due to a Curling Canada rule preventing curlers from competing in multiple events, Homan couldn’t compete, so Morris linked up with Kaitlyn Lawes and went on to win Olympic gold.
Before they were teammates, Homan and Morris were family friends, with Homan’s brother Mark curling on the same rink as Morris. Years later, Morris’s father, Earle, coached Homan.
The rapport the two curlers have is extra important this year, as Homan, Morris, and their current coach, Scott Pfeifer, spent time locked away at their Canmore residence. When the group wasn’t privately training at the nearby curling club, they were snowshoeing, ice fishing, playing cards, and helping Morris start his own mock cooking show on social media.
The laughs helped Homan push through some difficult emotions caused by spending time away from her husband, Scott, and her two small children, Ryan and Bowyn.
“It’s definitely tough to leave your little kids,” said Homan. “But those are things that go through every parent’s mind, and a bit of guilt of putting yourself and your dreams before their needs in the moment.”
Once her children are older, Homan said she hopes they’ll be able to learn from her journey to the Games.
“I’m showing them that hard work and dedication are always number one,” said the Cairine Wilson Secondary School grad. “And we support each other for each other’s dreams and aspirations and showing them that you can kind of wear lots of hats and be successful in different areas of your life.”
In the days leading up to her departure to China, Homan has leaned on support from her Ottawa fanbase, too — she remembers all the shout-outs over the years, including messages from mayor Jim Watson and the Ottawa Senators.
“[There’s] always lots of support and it definitely kind of helps the psyche when you’re going into isolation,” Homan said.
So, when she reaches the Games and throws her first stone, Homan will represent both Canada and Ottawa — and that thought makes her smile.
“I’m really proud to be from Ottawa,” she said.
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