FeatureSports

Rachel Homan Conquers the World (Again)

Photography by Anil Mungal and Shane Wilkie

Ottawa’s Rachel Homan has just completed one of the greatest, most dominant seasons in women’s curling history. And for someone with her already spectacular curling resume, that’s an impressive achievement. Along with teammates Tracy Fleury, Emma Miskew, and Sarah Wilkes, Team Homan’s 2024 season included going undefeated at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which was the best part of their tidy 39-1 record against Canadian teams.

Their overall win-loss record was an unheard-of 67-7, which included a beautiful moment back in March in Sydney, Nova Scotia. That’s when Homan’s rink capped off their year of dominance, winning the World Women’s Curling Championship. It was the second World title of Homan’s career, ending Canada’s six-year drought, and halting Switzerland’s four-year reign as World Champions.

So, with her historically great 2023-24 curling season now in the books, what will Homan do for an encore next season?

“Yeah, I don’t think you’re going to wind up another season with seven losses. I mean, it’d be great to have another season like that. Obviously, I wouldn’t complain,” Homan told FACES with a chuckle.

Homan, who was also a prolific junior player for Canada, says it was definitely the best season she’s ever had on the women’s side. But winning her second World Championship was much different than her first seven years ago in Beijing. This one came on Canadian soil with a new team and a new young family.

Photography by Anil Mungal and Shane Wilkie

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to get back to Worlds,” Homan said. “I’ve had three kids in between and been to two Olympics. There’s definitely a gap of quite a few years there. We didn’t perform as well as we wanted to at nationals. We had some team changes and some rebuilding years. That takes time..

Also, being pregnant for three of those years and the recovery, that takes time. We’ve been through so much and had so much growth.

Being able to share this year, this national title, and the world gold with my family just meant that much more.”

Homan’s husband is former pro hockey player Shawn Germain, who played five seasons in the ECHL. They’re a busy couple these days, living in Beaumont, Alberta, with three kids under five: Ryatt (4), Bowynn (3), and Briggs (7 months).

And Ryatt is old enough now to see that Mom is kind of a big deal.

“My son’s kind of getting his head around it a little bit. He’s going to be five in June, and some things are eye-opening to him. He realizes that the whole arena is cheering for his mom. It’s pretty cool to be a part of and I hope they have those memories. But even if they don’t, I have those memories with them, and that’s something I’ll never forget.”

Photography by Anil Mungal and Shane Wilkie

As dominant as Homan’s new team was this season, it took some time to round into World Championship form. In 2020, Sarah Wilkes was added to the team, replacing Lisa Weagle. Then, in 2022, Joanne Courtney stepped away from the sport, making way for long-time skip Tracy Fleury, who rounded out Team Homan as we know it today.

With Fleury being an elite skip in her own right, one of the transitional issues in their first season together was figuring out who would throw last.

“It took some time to figure out what we should do,” Homan said. “We tried out a few things, and it seemed like me being in the house and throwing last was going really well and was really successful. So we kept with that lineup and we all just kind of dove into our positions. I think over the last two years, we’ve gotten to the place where we feel really comfortable. We’re all supporting each other and just kind of each other’s cheerleaders.”

Homan says Emma Miskew, who’s been her friend and teammate since they were kids growing up in Ottawa, is “basically like her sister at this point.”

“I’ve known her longer than I’ve known almost everyone,” Homan said. “And it’s really special that we’re able to meet at five years old. And then life can throw so many things at you and change your course of direction, change your goals, and your vision for the future.

“And every time, we kept growing and changing together, and choosing to work at the game. We keep moving forward, keep setting new goals for each other, and keep pushing each other. And to remain such good friends off the ice, it’s been awesome that we could maintain the same outlook for curling as well. I think it’s pretty special and unheard of.

Photo by Lintao Zhang

Hurry Hard: Five Rapid Fire Questions for Two-Time World Curling Champion Rachel Homan

Who got you into curling, and did you like it at first?

Probably my parents. My grandfather curled and my great grandfather curled. My parents did for a little bit, but my brother, Mark, played with John Morris and I remember going on the rink and watching them compete. I watched them on TV at their junior nationals. I always looked up to my brother, who was ten years older than me, and that kind of inspired me to look at curling competitively.

What would be your idea of a perfect day?

Probably camping in the mountains with a bunch of friends, or going on a boat, wake surfing, and fishing. It’s nice to be out in Alberta. We live by the mountains, and there’s just something about fresh mountain air. So going out with friends and just enjoying the outdoors would for sure be my perfect day with the kids all running around. There’s definitely nothing better than that.

What do you and your teammates do for fun between games at an event?

It depends on where we are. Sometimes, we’re limited on the road. In Regina, there’s an escape room in the hotel, so we did that. In Toronto, we all went to the Blue Jays home opener. And at the last Scottie’s, there was a trampoline park so I took my kids there.

Photography by Anil Mungal and Shane Wilkie

What do you miss about Ottawa?

Oh, lots. I miss everything about Ottawa – the weather, the people, my friends and family. I grew up in Ottawa and just going to watch the Senators play and the concerts there, the food and restaurants in Ottawa. There’s nothing better, in my biased opinion.

I’m coming back in June, and I’ll be able to see some friends and family and celebrate a little bit. If there’s ever a chance for us to move back, I for sure would. But we’re in Alberta right now with jobs and things like that. And we’ve met some awesome people out here, too. We have a great little community out here, and I’m really thankful for that.

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