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Red-hot Team Homan set for major test at women's worlds on Tuesday

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Rachel Homan and her team from the Ottawa Curling Club haven't slowed down one iota over the first four games at the BKT Tires World Women's Curling Championship. 

Homan, third Tracy Fleury, second Emma Miskew and lead Sarah Wilkes are tied near the top of the standings after defeating Sweden, Denmark, United States and Norway over the opening three days of the event at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. 

The Canadian champions, who went a perfect 11-0 at the recent Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, have now won 20 straight games and are an incredible 53-5 on the season. 

Thanks to their strong play, Team Homan might be Canada's best shot at capturing gold at the women's worlds for the first time since 2018 when Jennifer Jones accomplished the feat in North Bay, Ont.

Homan, 34, and Miskew, 35, wore the Red and White at the 2017 World Women's Curling Championship in Beijing, winning the gold medal with a perfect 13-0 run. 

Things are going well right now for Homan's crew, currently ranked first in the world, but after back-to-back single draw days, Canada will play eight games over the next four days against some of the top teams in the field to close round-robin play.

Team Homan's biggest preliminary-round test will come on Tuesday when they take on Italy's Team Stefania Constantini (4-0) and the four-time defending champions in Switzerland's Team Silvana Tirinzoni (5-0), the only other undefeated rinks in the field. 

The top six teams will make the playoffs following the 12-game round-robin with the top two teams advancing straight to the semifinals, making these games very important for tiebreaking purposes.

Let's take a closer look at Tuesday's matchups for Canada.

 

Canada (Team Homan, 4-0) vs. Italy (Team Constantini, 4-0)

8am ET on TSN 1/5, TSN.ca and the TSN App

Stefania Constantini and Giulia Zardini Lacedel

Team Italy, led by 24-year-old skip Stefania Constantini, have had an up-and-down season coming into Sydney, but seemed to have found their form. 

At least in this early portion of the women's worlds. 

Italy is 4-0 with wins over Estonia, Sweden, Scotland, and the United States with their skip shooting an impressive 88.4 per cent, tied with Homan for the top spot among last rock throwers.

The foursome is shooting 86.1 per cent as an unit, fourth best in the tournament.

This is Constantini's fifth appearance at worlds as the native of Cortina d'Ampezzo is looking to qualify for the playoffs for the second straight year after posting a 7-5 record in Sweden last year.

Despite being ranked ninth in the world, Team Constantini have struggled at various points during the 2023-24 season. 

They owned a 50-36 record coming into this bonspiel, highlighted by four final appearances and one win, but also had a stretch where they lost 10 games in a row, including going 4-14 over four events.

On a positive note, Constantini's crew handed Team Homan one of their five losses this season, a slim 8-7 victory at the Tour Challenge in October, which was the only event Homan and company did not qualify for the playoffs.

These two teams could be destined for a playoff date on the weekend, so Tuesday morning's clash will be a fun one to watch. 

 

Canada (Team Homan, 4-0) vs. Switzerland (Team Tirinzoni, 5-0)

6pm ET on TSN1, TSN.ca and TSN App

Switzerland's Silvana Tirinzoni and Alina Paetz

Tuesday night's clash between Switzerland and Canada could very well be the best game of the round robin. 

On one side, we have Team Homan, the most dominant squad in curling this season. On the other, there's Team Silvana Tirinzoni, the rink who is looking to win an incredible fifth straight title at the World Women's Curling Championship.

The 44-year-old Tirinzoni and last rock thrower Alina Pätz, 34, have won the last four women's worlds titles together, playing with different combinations of front-end players over that stretch. The newcomer on this year's team is 25-year-old second Selina Witschonke, while 30-year-old lead Carole Howald is in her second year with the rink.

Switzerland as a country has won eight of the past 11 women's worlds competitions. 

In Sydney, Team Tirinzoni has already topped Korea, United States, Estonia, Turkey and Japan. A win on Tuesday afternoon against Norway would send the Swiss to 6-0 for the tournament and would extend their winning streak at the women's worlds to an incredible 42 games, dating back to the Calgary worlds bubble in 2021.

Team Tirinzoni have gone 14-0 in each of the past two World Women's Curling Championships and hold a total record of 58-5 during their four-year reign which started in 2019 (the 2020 women's worlds were cancelled due to COVID-19). 

It's been much of the same for Team Tirinzoni in 2023-24.

The second-ranked team on the planet went 67-13 before the women's worlds, winning five events, highlighted by a near-perfect run at Swiss nationals in early February and an 11-0 showing at the European Curling Championships in November.

When it comes to their results against Team Homan, Team Tirinzoni have lost all three games against the Canadians this season, including two Grand Slam finals. 

If Tirinzoni and company are going to repeat as world champions for a fifth time, they will more than likely have to beat Homan at some point in the playoffs.

Canada and Switzerland are first and second, respectively, when it comes to team shooting percentage. Team Homan is at 88.6 per cent while Team Tirinzoni is close behind at 88.1 per cent.  

Tuesday's contest could give a sneak peak into which one of these dominant teams may have the edge as championship weekend approaches.