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Weekend recap: Homan ends Canada’s curling title drought

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The great Canadian curling drought is over! Plus, the host country added another medal at the figure skating world championships in Montreal while Canadians scored a hat trick of World Cup titles on the slopes. Here’s what to know from an exceptional weekend of Olympic and Paralympic sports:

Rachel Homan’s team won Canada’s first major curling title in six years.

Last night in Sydney, N.S., Homan’s foursome defeated Switzerland 7-5 to capture the women’s world championship. It’s Canada’s first world or Olympic title in women’s, men’s or mixed doubles curling since Jennifer Jones’ victory at the 2018 worlds in North Bay, Ont.

That’s quite the dry spell, considering Canada is home to most of the world’s best curlers. And Homan was one of the faces of her country’s struggles in big international events. After winning her first world title in three tries in 2017, she missed the playoffs twice at the Olympics: in the women’s event in 2018 and in mixed doubles with John Morris in 2022. 

But, this year, Homan raised her game to another level. Less than six months after giving birth to her third child, the 34-year-old Ottawa skip captured her fourth Canadian title, beating Jones in the final to complete a perfect 11-0 run at the Scotties. Homan and her teammates Tracy Fleury, Emma Miskew and Sarah Wilkes were nearly flawless at the world championship too, going 13-1 to up their record this season to an incredible 62-6.

The only blemish was a meaningless loss to South Korea in the final draw of the round-robin on Friday night, after Canada had clinched the top seed for the playoffs. When the chips were down, Homan won her rematch with the Koreans in the semifinals on Saturday before dethroning Swiss skip Silvana Tirinzoni, who had won the past four world titles.

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Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier earned Canada’s second medal of the figure skating world championships in Montreal.

Before Homan’s big victory, a similar Canadian drought ended on Thursday night at the Bell Centre when the pairs team of Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps captured the country’s first figure skating world title since 2018. On Saturday, Gilles and Poirier added a silver in the ice dance event, giving Canada multiple medals at the figure skating worlds for the first time since Kaetlyn Osmond won the women’s gold and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje took the dance bronze in ’18.

Gilles and Poirier moved up from third place after the opening stage with a brilliant performance that dazzled the partisan Montreal crowd and the judges, who awarded them the top score in the free skate. The silver medal came after Gilles and Poirier took bronze at two of the past three worlds — including last year, when Gilles was just two months removed from surgery for ovarian cancer.

Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates held on for their second straight gold. Canada’s Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha placed fifth, while Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen were ninth.

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto won her third consecutive women’s title, becoming the first skater to do so since American Peggy Fleming in 1968.

American teenager Ilia Malinin captured his first men’s world title, denying Shoma Uno of a three-peat. The Japanese star led after the short program but fell to fourth after missing two quadruple jumps to start his free skate. Malinin, nicknamed the “Quad God,” nailed an astonishing six of them, including his signature quad axel, to earn a world-record score in the free and steal the gold. Watch Malinin’s free skate here.

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Canadians captured three World Cup titles in freestyle skiing and snowboarding.

Eliot Grondin had already clinched his first snowboard cross Crystal Globe heading into the final World Cup stop of the season at Quebec’s Mont-Sainte-Anne. But the 22-year-old still put on a show about an hour from where he grew up, winning both men’s races to put an exclamation point on his fantastic season. Grondin won 10 medals in 11 starts, including a men’s-record seven golds.

Marielle Thompson grabbed her record-tying fourth women’s ski cross globe on Saturday after winning the final race in Sweden. It was the sixth victory of the season for the former Olympic and world champion. Canada’s Brittany Phelan won Friday’s race and took bronze Saturday to close the season with four consecutive podiums and finish third in the World Cup chase. Hannah Schmidt placed fourth in the standings, and India Sherret gave Canada four of the top six. Reece Howden took silver in Saturday’s men’s season finale to finish second in the standings, just missing his third Globe. Canada won its third straight ski cross Nations Cup, awarded to the country that accumulates the most points during the World Cup season.

Snowboarder Liam Brearley made it a hat trick of World Cup titles for Canada, winning the men’s slopestyle competition in Switzerland on Saturday to become the first Canadian to capture a Crystal Globe in this discipline. It was the fourth World Cup gold medal of the season for the 21-year-old, who also won the men’s snowboard knuckle huck event at the Winter X Games in January.

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Other medal wins:

* Canadians reached four podiums at a diving World Cup meet in Berlin. Rylan Wiens grabbed a pair of silvers, in the individual men’s 10m platform event and the 10m synchronized with Nathan Zsombor-Murray. Caeli McKay earned a bronze in the women’s solo 10m and a silver in the synchro with Kate Miller.

* Four Canadians grabbed medals at a judo Grand Slam meet in Georgia. Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard won gold in her weight division, Jessica Klimkait and Shady El Nahas each earned silver and Christa Deguchi got bronze.

* Canadians won three more medals at the Para track cycling world championships in Brazil. After taking silver in the women’s C3 500m time trial on Wednesday, Mel Pemble added a bronze in the omnium. Keely Shaw raced to bronze in the women’s C4 individual pursuit, and Alex Hayward earned silver in the men’s C3 scratch race.

* The beach volleyball duo of Heather Bansley and Sophie Bukovec picked up a silver after losing to a Latvian team in the final of a Pro Tour event in Brazil.

* Canada’s Kalle Ericsson and his guide Sierra Smith took silver in the men’s giant slalom visually impaired category at the Para alpine World Cup finals in Italy. They won gold in the slalom on Friday.

* The Canadian wheelchair rugby team took silver at a tournament in New Zealand and qualified for this summer’s Paralympic Games.

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