Team Canada improves to 5-0 at world women’s curling championship

Rachel Homan throws a curling stone during the CPT World Women's Curling Championship 2017 (WWCC) in Beijing. (Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING — Rachel Homan and her Canada rink gave themselves a major confidence boost Monday in their quest for gold at the women’s world curling championship, handing Switzerland its first loss to and taking sole possession of first place in the round-robin standings.

Canada improved to 5-0 and with an 8-6 win over the Swiss rink skipped by Alina Paetz, a two-time world champion. The Canadians opened the day with a 7-5 win over the United States.

Homan is looking to lead Canada to its first world title since 2008 while Swiss teams have won the last three gold medals.

It was more than just a routine round-robin win for Canada, said second Joanne Courtney.

"Absolutely," she said. "I think the Swiss are very strong at the worlds, and you can see that in their previous championships. So we take them very seriously. We always have a good game with them."

The loss dropped the Swiss into a second-place tie with Sweden at 4-1. The Czechs and Scotland are tied for fourth at 3-2.

Courtney called the Swiss an "agressive team."

"They’re all great shooters," she said. "So that’s a big win for us, to come out, start off strong and be able to keep that lead. We’re happy with how we played, and we’re getting more comfortable with the ice."

It was a tight game in the early going, but it was broken open in the fourth end on a well-executed raise takeout from Homan to score three and make it 4-1.

An end later, Canada stole two more when Paetz’s raise double-takeout attempt was unsuccessful. The Canadians were able to put it in cruise control the rest of the way.

Homan is in top form, her second said.

"You can tell in her eyes when she knows what a spot in the ice is going to do, and exactly how she has to throw it to make the shot," she said. "You just try to make sure you sweep it right and make sure you’re supporting her. She was dialed in all through the Scotties and it’s continued here. You stay out of skipper’s way when she’s throwing like that. She’s quite the weapon."

Earlier, the U.S. led 3-1 through four ends, but a single in the fifth and a deuce in the sixth gave the Canadians their first lead of the day.

"That was the first time we had the lead in that game, so to be able to steal the two points in an even end and take the lead was big," said second Lisa Weagle.

American (1-3) skip Nina Roth responded with two of her own in the eighth to make it 5-4, but Homan came right back with three in the ninth to take the victory.

"That was a challenging sheet of ice," said Weagle. "We just tried to stay patient and pick up on it as best we could. I’ve been struggling a little bit with my weight so it felt good to make a couple nice draws in that game."

The Canadian squad started the tournament with victories over China, Germany and Russia.

The 27-year-old Homan and Courtenay are joined by third Emma Miskew and lead Lisa Weagle, along with alternate Cheryl Kreviazuk.

Homan has yet to win a world title after taking bronze and silver in two previous appearances.

She and her crew won the Canadian title in February with an extra-end win over Manitoba’s Michelle Englot, earning Homan a third appearance at the world championship.

Last year Canada was represented by Calgary skip Chelsea Carey. Her foursome had to settle for fourth place after dropping the bronze-medal draw against Russia.

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