RIGA, Latvia - Canada's Rachel Homan faced her biggest challenge yet at the women's world curling championship Wednesday and came through with a pair of impressive victories.
She significantly improved her playoff chances in the process.
Homan entered the evening draw at the Volvo Sports Center in a tie with Switzerland for fourth place in the round-robin standings. The Ottawa skip played arguably her best game of the tournament in a 7-4 win over Silvana Tirinzoni.
The win allowed Canada to control its own playoff destiny.
"Definitely in the driver's seat," Homan said. "This whole time we've been in control of our own fate so we just have to keep going."
Homan beat Germany's Andrea Schopp 8-5 earlier in the day.
The 23-year-old Canadian is tied with Russia at 6-3, good for third place in the standings. Homan will play China on Thursday morning and close out her round-robin schedule in the afternoon against Japan.
"We needed two wins to be a little bit more comfortable," Homan said. "But it feels really good to play the way we did. I'm really proud of my team for pulling together and making those big shots and pulling through in the end.
"It was a really great day for my team."
Canada was tested by the Swiss side and held a slim 4-3 lead after seven ends. Homan slid her last rock of the eighth end into a crowded four-foot ring to score three and put the game out of reach.
Homan had an impressive 94 per cent shooting percentage while Tirinzoni was at 86 per cent. Canada shot 88 per cent as a team compared to just 75 per cent for Switzerland.
"We had a great day today, a lot of good shots that we can put in the bank and just keep getting stronger for the weekend," Homan said.
The top four rinks will qualify for the playoffs. Homan can lock up a tiebreaker appearance with one victory on Thursday and earn a playoff spot with two wins.
Sweden beat Russia 10-3 on Wednesday night and Scotland doubled Italy 8-4. Sweden and Scotland have locked up playoff spots and remain tied in first place at 8-1.
Switzerland and the United States were tied in fifth place at 5-4 while Japan and China were 4-5. Germany and Denmark were next at 3-6, followed by 2-7 Italy and winless Latvia at 0-9.
Earlier in the day, the Canadian players looked solid against the German veteran Schopp.
"Maybe once or twice the lines tricked us and that was pretty frustrating but it was a really well-played game by my team," Homan said. "We're just trying to hang in there with the ice and we pulled it out."
Germany scored three heading into the halftime break but Canada regained the lead with a deuce in the sixth. Homan added a single in the seventh and stole another point in the eighth when Schopp missed a double takeout attempt.
Schopp drew for a single in the ninth but Homan had the advantage with the hammer in the final end.
The Canadian team posted an 83 per cent shooting percentage for the game while Germany was at 77 per cent. Homan hit 86 per cent of her shots, well ahead of Schopp at 73 per cent.
A few dozen fans were on hand for the morning draw. A pocket of flag-waving Canadian fans cheered on the Ottawa Curling Club team.
Attendance improved for the late draw with a few hundred fans taking in the action at the 1,000-seat venue.
This is Homan's first appearance at this tournament. She's hoping to win Canada's first world women's title since Jennifer Jones was victorious in 2008.
Heather Nedohin skipped Canada to a bronze medal at the 2012 world championship in Lethbridge, Alta. Switzerland's Mirjam Ott won gold last year.