Defending champion Homan in 0-2 hole at curling trials after loss to McCarville

Rachel Homan shoots a stone during the fifth draw of the Masters on Oct. 20, 2021, in Oakville, Ont. (Anil Mungal)

SASKATOON — The two pre-trials entries proved to be a handful for Rachel Homan at Canada's Olympic curling trials.

Now a murderers' row of opponents awaits the defending champion, leaving her in a precarious position in her bid to get back to the Winter Games.

After falling to Jacqueline Harrison in the round-robin opener, Homan dropped a 9-5 decision to Krista McCarville on Sunday that left her in an unenviable 0-2 hole.

"You can't really think about an 0-2 (start) versus anything else," said Homan's third Emma Miskew. "I know there's a ton of great teams here. So teams are going to lose and teams can beat each other. We just have to do what we can control."

Homan had some time to reset after a rough opening weekend. She's not back on the ice until Monday night against Kelsey Rocque.

After that, her imposing schedule includes games against 2014 Olympic champ Jennifer Jones, world No. 1 Tracy Fleury, two-time reigning national champ Kerri Einarson, as well as Laura Walker and Casey Scheidegger.

"It's not the start we wanted but you never go into any bonspiel wanting to go 0-2," Homan's coach Marcel Rocque said.

"So I guess in a regular triple-knockout we're in the C (draw). You lose one more and maybe you go home. But maybe you get a tiebreaker here."

Homan, who shot a game-low 64 per cent, saw her first stone in the fourth end overcurl to set up a McCarville draw for three.

After a solid opening half, McCarville made a few errors herself in the second half of the game.

The skip took out her own stone on a deuce attempt in the sixth end, missed a double takeout in the seventh and settled for a single on a draw for two in the ninth.

However, McCarville, who threw 74 per cent, came though when it mattered most. Her takeout with her final shot in the 10th end left Homan a nearly impossible triple-takeout attempt.

The miss gave McCarville (1-1) a steal of two and the win.

"The ice was tricky today," said McCarville's vice Kendra Lilly. "It wasn't automatic. We were just trying to make the best of every shot."

It's possible a 5-3 record makes the three-team cut for the weekend's playoffs.

Jones slipped in at 5-3 at the 2017 trials in Ottawa and Mike McEwen did the same in the men's draw, although neither rink had to overcome an 0-2 start.

"You can't worry about the end of the week," Marcel Rocque said. "You've got to worry about the next game."

In other games, Jones improved to 2-0 with a 10-2 rout of Harrison (1-1) and Einarson moved to 1-1 with a 10-5 victory over Scheidegger (1-1). Walker (1-1) posted a 9-3 win over Kelsey Rocque (0-1) in the other early matchup.

Brad Gushue and Brad Jacobs led the men's standings at 2-0 thanks to afternoon victories at the SaskTel Centre.

Gushue topped Kevin Koe 7-3 and Jacobs edged Matt Dunstone 7-6. Tanner Horgan upset Brendan Bottcher 6-5 in an extra end while John Epping dumped Jason Gunnlaugson 10-5.

"Our team is an underdog here so it's good to get that one out of the way," said Horgan, who's making his trials debut. "I think we'll be playing a little bit more comfortably from here on out."

A women's draw was set for Sunday evening. Round-robin play continues through Friday night and the finals are set for Nov. 28.

The winners of the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials will wear the Maple Leaf in February's Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Homan beat Chelsea Carey in the 2017 trials final, but missed the podium at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

Koe skipped Canada's men in South Korea and was also held without a medal.

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