The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canada's Homan beats Latvia and Denmark at world women's curling championship

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RIGA, Latvia - A touch of early jitters may have been a factor for the young Canadian players at the start of their first world women's curling championship.

Nerves appeared to be a thing of the past on Sunday as Ottawa skip Rachel Homan and her teammates settled in on the second day of competition, posting a pair of comfortable victories to improve to 2-1.

Homan beat Latvia 7-5 in the afternoon draw and topped Denmark 8-2 in the evening. It was a solid bounce-back day for Canada after a 6-4 loss to Scotland's Eve Muirhead on Saturday.

"We've put in the practice, we've put in the work and yesterday wasn't really us," Homan said. "We knew we'd come out playing really well today and just believing in our ability."

Homan and her team of Emma Miskew, Alison Kreviazuk and Lisa Weagle displayed the same form that helped them win their first Scotties Tournament of Hearts title just a few weeks ago.

In the early game, Homan pulled ahead 5-1 after four ends and was never really threatened the rest of the way. Latvian skip Iveta Stasa-Sarsune, feeding off the cheers from the home crowd, pulled off a couple steals late in the game before conceding in the final end.

"It's important to get that first win, especially after you had a bit of a sub-par performance in the first one," said Canadian coach Earle Morris. "You want to get back into feeling like you're playing like who you are and that game gave us that opportunity.

"It's something to build on."

Canada continued its steady play against Lene Nielsen's side. Denmark opened with a deuce but Homan's rink turned it on from there, scoring eight unanswered points in the seven-end victory.

The Canadians were business-like on the ice but they also cracked smiles on occasion. They seemed to enjoy the atmosphere in the cosy Volvo Sports Center.

About 250 fans were on hand for both the afternoon and evening sessions at the 1,000-seat arena. The pro-Latvian crowd was trying its best to cheer on the underdog host side and a few cowbells rang out on occasion.

Flags hung from the railing of the small upper section in the intimate venue, which is similar in size to a community centre hockey rink with a few rows of seating on each side of the ice.

Big names like Germany's Andrea Schopp, Sweden's Margaretha Sigfridsson and Muirhead are in the field this year. For the spectators, it's the curling equivalent of seeing a top-flight concert in a small theatre.

Latvia's only previous appearance at this event came in 2010 and the host team was determined to soak up the experience.

Even after giving up three points to Homan in the fourth end, Stasa-Sarsune and her teammates high-fived and smiled. They weren't going to let the score affect their enjoyment of playing a curling powerhouse like Canada on home ice.

It was a respectable showing by the Latvians, who shot 77 per cent as a team. Canada finished at 85 per cent.

After five draws, Switzerland's Silvana Tirinzoni had a share of the lead at 3-0 after an 8-5 win over China's Bingyu Wang. Sigfridsson outscored American Erika Brown 9-8 for her third straight win.

Muirhead thumped Schopp 9-2 in seven ends to give both rinks 2-1 records. Russia was 2-1 along with Canada and Japan, as Satsuki Fujisawa held off Latvia 11-8 in the other evening game.

Denmark and the United States were next at 1-2. Latvia, China and Italy's Diana Gaspari winless at 0-3.

Round-robin play continues through Thursday and the medal games are scheduled for March 24. Canada will play Russia and the United States on Monday.

Homan, who skipped Canada to a silver medal at the 2010 world junior championships, is hoping to win Canada's first world women's title since Manitoba's Jennifer Jones won in 2008.

Edmonton skip Heather Nedohin finished third at last year's world championship in Lethbridge, Alta. Switzerland's Mirjam Ott beat Sigfridsson for the 2012 title.

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