On­tario’s Rachel Ho­man goes all in on a high stakes year of curl­ing

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY DONNA SPENCER

Life takes a back seat to curl­ing for the Rachel Ho­man team th­ese days.

They’ve di­alled down their jobs and lim­ited their so­cial lives in a year of high stakes.

Ho­man skips host On­tario at the Cana­dian women’s curl­ing championship that be­gins Satur­day. The squad will also be a hometown favourite at De­cem­ber’s Olympic tri­als in Ot­tawa.

Ho­man, third Emma Miskew, sec­ond Joanne Court­ney and lead Lisa Wea­gle pos­sess the tools and tal­ent to win both, and thus wear the Maple Leaf in next month’s world championship and next year’s Win­ter Olympics.

Max­i­miz­ing their chances to do so means mak­ing sac­ri­fices.

“We’ve all put our ca­reers on hold,’’ Ho­man said Fri­day at the Merid­ian Cen­tre. “We’ve spent a lot of time to­gether as a team and less so on ca­reer.

“We’re not see­ing our friends and fam­ily as much as we’d like to. But they know this is a pri­or­ity for us and a life-long goal we’re try­ing to achieve and they’re 100 per cent be­hind us. You have to be OK with say­ing ‘No’ to things and tak­ing time for your­self and tak­ing time with the team and kind of putting that as a pri­or­ity.’’

The World Curl­ing Tour ranks the Ot­tawa Curl­ing Club four­some as the No. 1 women’s team in the world.

Win­ner of the 2015 Canada Cup, Ho­man was the first to nail down one of nine women’s berths for the Tim Hor­tons Roar of the Rings in Ot­tawa.

Ho­man has stepped away from her job as a com­mu­nity am­bas­sador in the RBC Olympians pro­gram.

Miskew was a project co-or­di­na­tor for Canada’s Sen­ate but quit that job just over a year ago to start her own de­sign com­pany and have more flex­i­ble hours.

“My big­gest is­sue when I worked for the gov­ern­ment was tak­ing al­most 50 per cent of the time off be­tween Septem­ber and April,’’ Miskew ex­plained. “I de­cided to step back and do my own free­lance de­sign­ing.’’

Court­ney, a reg­is­tered nurse in Ed­mon­ton, picks up a ca­sual shift when she can. Wea­gle has taken a leave of ab­sence from her com­mu­ni­ca­tions job with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

“We have big goals for our­selves and we’re try­ing to po­si­tion our­selves to do ev­ery­thing we can achieve them,’’ Wea­gle said.

Ho­man, Miskew, Wea­gle and sec­ond Ali­son Kre­vi­azuk won back-to-back Cana­dian women’s crowns in 2013 and 2014, tak­ing bronze and sil­ver re­spec­tively at the world cham­pi­onships.

They went 4-3 and lost out in the semi­fi­nal of the 2013 Olympic tri­als.

Ho­man re­cruited Court­ney when Kre­vi­azuk moved to Swe­den in 2014. As of 2015, Curl­ing Canada res­i­dency rules al­low each team to have one player from out of prov­ince.

So there is sig­nif­i­cant travel to and from Ot­tawa and Ed­mon­ton for all four curlers.

“Def­i­nitely lead­ing into Olympic tri­als, I think fam­ily, work, friends, ev­ery­one knows I’m go­ing to be where I need to be to make sure the team is ready,’’ Court­ney said.

They’re con­sid­ered the team to beat at this year’s Scot­ties Tour­na­ment of Hearts, even by de­fend­ing champion Chelsea Carey of Cal­gary.

The championship opens Satur­day with a mar­quee matchup be­tween Ho­man and Carey.

CP PHOTO

On­tario skip Rachel Ho­man prac­tices dur­ing the Scot­ties Tour­na­ment of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ont., on Fri­day.

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