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Canada's Homan beats South Korea's Gim to reach final at world curling championship

SYDNEY, N.S. — Rachel Homan's season has been noteworthy for win streaks, dominant play and a surge to the top position in world rankings.

A 9-7 semifinal win over South Korea's Eunji Gim on Saturday has set her up for a potential high point of an already sterling campaign — and on home ice to boot.

Homan and her Ottawa-based team of Tracy Fleury, Emma Miskew and Sarah Wilkes will play defending champion Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland for gold on Sunday at the world women's curling championship.

"We've had good success against them this year," said Canada coach Don Bartlett. "But this is the game we've been waiting for."

The showdown at Centre 200 will be a matchup of the top two teams in the world. Homan has won all four head-to-head meetings this season but Tirinzoni has won four straight world titles.

"We've trained and we've prepared for this moment," Homan said. "We know that we're ready. We're going to give everything we can."

Both teams had to outlast tough opponents to book their tickets to the final. South Korea shot a solid 82 per cent as a team but Gim and third Minji Kim struggled with draws.

Hit-and-roll attempts that weren't under full cover also proved costly. Homan made a double-takeout in the 10th end to sit three points and won the game by picking out Gim's draw that overcurled by half a rock.

"We made a lot of great shots in the last end to seal it," Miskew said.

The normally staid Homan let loose as she slid down the ice after the game-winning throw. She let out a yell and raised her arms in the air in celebration as the partisan crowd roared in delight.

She'll have a chance to win her first world title since 2017 in Beijing and end Canada's six-year drought at this event.

"She was outstanding all week," said South Korea coach Guy Hemmings. "We just had to hold her one more end. We held her for nine ends but in the last end she got us."

Tirinzoni defeated Italy's Stefania Constantini 6-3 in the other semifinal. South Korea and Italy will play for bronze in the early game Sunday.

Homan earned a direct berth to the semifinal after posting an 11-1 round-robin record. Her lone loss — which ended a 27-game winning streak — was to Gim in a playoff tune-up on Friday with the top seed already secured.

Gim picked up her semifinal spot with a 6-3 victory over Sweden's Anna Hasselborg in a morning qualification game.

Homan's draw weight has been on point all week and she drew for a pair in the second end to open the scoring. Gim answered in the third with a double-takeout for three.

The teams exchanged singles over the next four ends before Canada picked up a deuce on a Homan draw to the button. Gim was heavy with two straight draws ahead of the Canadian skip's last throw.

In the ninth, Homan rubbed South Korea's stone on the four-foot ring to set up Gim for a soft hit to score two. Canada was pleased to be down one in the 10th end with the all-important hammer.

"They're a phenomenal team," Homan said. "One more mistake and we lose that game."

Canada threw 91 per cent overall. Gim shot a game-low 75 per cent and was just 57 per cent on draws.

Constantini beat Denmark's Madeleine Dupont 7-4 in the other qualification game.

Homan, who's 61-6 on the season, beat Tirinzoni in round-robin play to end the Swiss skip's 42-game winning streak at this competition. The Canadian has a 23-8 all-time record in games between the two skips.

The third-ranked Gim and ninth-ranked Constantini are both playing in this event for the fifth time. Neither skip has reached the women's world podium before.

Canada last won world women's gold in 2018 when Jennifer Jones was victorious in North Bay, Ont.

The March 30-April 7 world men's curling championship will be played in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Brad Gushue of St. John's, N.L., will skip the Canadian team.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2024.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press