Sweeting, Homan slide into win column at GSOC Champions Cup

Val Sweeting shoots a stone during the seventh draw of the Champions Cup on April 26, 2018, in Calgary. (Anil Mungal)

CALGARY — Edmonton’s Val Sweeting picked up her first victory of the Humpty’s Champions Cup defeating world junior gold medallist Kaitlyn Jones 7-2 Thursday.

Both teams entered the seventh draw of the season finale Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournament sporting 0-2 records and already in must-win mode for playoff contention.

“That was a really fun game,” Team Sweeting third Lori Olson-Johns said. “As you know, I’m a bit of an old guard out here so I cherish every moment and to play those juniors girls was really special.

“They’re our Canadian champs and for us to see the changing of the guard and the new generation coming up and playing against them and having a great time doing it, I think that’s the beautiful thing about our sport.”

It’s also the last event together for Team Sweeting as they look to finish things off in their home province on a high note. Sweeting is joining Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson at third next season, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachel Brown are staying together linking up with Calgary’s Chelsea Carey while Olson-Johns plans to dial it back from competitive curling.

“It is special when you spend this much time with individuals every weekend they become your family,” an emotional Olson-Johns said. “I’m happy to be out there and enjoying every minute with those girls.”

“I have a young family, so that’s definitely going to be my priority moving forward,” she added. “I’m not going to say that I won’t be curling. I don’t like the word ‘retirement’ because I don’t think anything is ever final. My focus will move more towards family and helping my girls achieve their dreams.”

Team Jones, based in Halifax, struggled big time to start when routine back-and-forth hits for a blank in the first turned sideways as her last rock missed the mark leaving Sweeting’s stone untouched for a steal.

Things went from bad to worse in the second end as Jones faced three and went through the rings again with her last to fall into a 4-0 hole.

The pressure was still on in the third end. Sweeting sat five rocks, but Jones delivered the draw and bumped the one counter on the button to finish closer to the pin and get on the board.

Jones continued to chip away at the deficit and closed to 4-2 in the fourth sitting shot rock on the button and the direct path blocked. Sweeting curled around but rubbed off the rock and gave up one.

Sweeting, who won the Tour Challenge Tier 1 at the start of the season, opted for a risky angle raise in the fifth and it turned into a two-point reward bumping out Jones’s rock sitting at the back of the four-foot circle. Another steal for Sweeting in the sixth brought out the handshakes.

Meanwhile, defending champ Rachel Homan, who went winless earlier this month at the Players’ Championship, evened her record to 1-1 following a 5-2 victory over Binia Feltscher of Switzerland.

“It feels great,” Team Homan third Emma Miskew said. “It wasn’t super, super sharp but we got through it and it feels good to win a game.”

Homan hit for three in the second end and remained one step ahead from there.

“We had some nice draws in that end and we were able to capitalize on a couple mistakes,” Miskew said. “Starting off that way makes it easier. We got to practise some of our hits, which we haven’t been able to practise in a while and now hopefully, we’ll be a bit sharper for our next game.”

The teams alternated single in three and four and Feltscher was limited to another lone point in the sixth with a missed opportunity for more. The two-time world champion Feltscher (1-2) had a draw for two but attempted a hit for three and sailed clear through the rings.

Homan added another point in seven and ran Feltscher out of rocks in eight.

Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni slid to a 2-0 record after downing Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones 7-2 in six ends.

Tirinzoni was forced to a single in the first but rolled out with steals of one in the second and two in the third when Jones angle-raised a guard but picked out her own and left behind two counters. Another steal in four made it 5-0.

Jones (1-1) finally broke the shutout with a deuce in five, however, Tirinzoni matched taking two in the sixth leading to handshakes.

Delia DeJong of Grande Prairie, Alta., improved to a 2-1 record. DeJong scored two in the seventh and stole one in the eighth to finish off Japan’s Team Fujisawa 7-4.

The Olympic bronze medallists are playing without skip Satsuki Fujisawa, who is competing at the world mixed doubles championship in Sweden. Third Chinami Yoshida has moved up to skip with alternate Mari Motohashi slotting into the third spot.

In the lone men’s game, Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen (1-1) counted three in the sixth to close out an 8-3 win over Kurt Balderston (0-3) of Grande Prairie, Alta.

The Humpty’s Champions Cup features 15 men’s teams and 15 women’s teams that won events over the course of the season in order to qualify for entry. Teams play four round-robin games during the week with the top eight overall advancing to the weekend playoffs.

Round-robin action resumes at 6 p.m. ET (4 p.m. MT) on Sportsnet 360 with online streaming available at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare TV (international).

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