SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Rachel Homan’s curling team took talking to a new level this winter.
Coach Earle Morris listened in on their conversations via headphones to help the four women make every word count on the ice.
Curling teams wear microphones when they are the featured game on national television, so viewers can hear their interaction.
But Morris also listened in on their World Curling Tour games at curling clubs where teams didn’t wear microphones for television — in Calgary’s Autumn Gold Classic in October for example.
The point of Morris’s eavesdropping this season was to help Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Alison Kreviazuk and lead Lisa Weagle communicate effectively and consistently no matter what the game’s stakes were.
Morris took notes and after a game, he pointed to instances where what they said to each other helped them execute and win. He also pointed to situations where they needed to communicate more clearly.
"Sometimes a player maybe has some information that they have to share on the shot, but didn’t say at the time," Kreviazuk explained.
"You’ll miss a shot for that reason. After, a person will say ’Actually I knew (the ice) was straight there. I should have said something.’ So making sure all the information is gathered before making the shot and everyone has a piece of the discussion.
"It’s something we’ve really, really stressed this year. I think we’ve really nailed our discussions."
The Ottawa Curling Club foursome won their second game in a row at the Ford World Curling Championship on Sunday with an 8-4 victory over Anna Kubeskova of the Czech Republic.
Canada stole two points in the second end and scored deuces in the fourth, seventh and ninth ends. The Czechs shook hands after the ninth end.
The host country joined Sweden atop the standing at 2-0 and was to face Switzerland’s Binia Feltscher in the evening draw at Harbour Station.
Morris has known Homan, 24, since she was five years old and trailing after her old brother Mark, who played on a team with Earle’s son John.
Earle Morris has coached Homan’s teams since she was 13 with the exception of 2010 to 2012, when he coached Jennifer Jones for one season and took a year’s hiatus from coaching for another.
Homan and Miskew have been constant teammates since their junior curling days and often with Kreviazuk, who is a year older than them.
Jones captured Olympic gold in Sochi last month, but Homan and company are riding a wave of their own. They went 13-0 to win their second straight Canadian title last month and earn a return trip to the world championship.
When Homan’s team is curling their best, it’s not just shot execution, but their trust and confidence in each other that is the magic ingredient, Morris says.
"When it’s all there, it’s all about team dynamics," Morris explained. "We try to be very positive about our stuff. If the results are not there like we expect them, then we go looking for why and try to figure it out.
"Sometimes it’s because we don’t communicate effectively like we want to on the ice, but our communication has really improved this year.
"I’m very proud of it because we spent lots of time . . . on making sure we communicate more effectively. The more effectively you communicate on the ice, the more chances you have of making more shots."
Kreviazuk, who is a distant cousin of Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk, says the team is so accustomed to wearing microphones in national and international events, they didn’t feel felt self-conscious when Morris listened in at curling clubs.
"We’ve worn mics so many times that sometimes you just forget you have it on," she said. "You hardly notice they’re there."
Homan won the bronze medal at last year’s world championship in Riga, Latvia. The Canadians opened this year’s event with a 7-5 win over Russia’s Anna Sidorova on Saturday.
The Czechs struggled to read the ice Sunday morning with their draw percentage 48 to Canada’s 87 after the first five ends. Czech third Tereza Pliskova’s overall shooting percentage was 47 to Miskew’s 81.
"The ice is really fast for us," Kubeskova said. "We’re not used to that. Hopefully we can get it.
"Definitely the Canadians were the favourites. They made a couple of great shots. They gave us also a couple of chances but we were not able to score from them."
In another game, Madeleine Dupont of Denmark downed Scotland’s Kerry Barr 7-5 to get to 1-1. Scotland dropped to 0-2.
— The Canadian Press