First-time Olympians lead Canada curling teams for Pyeongchang

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The next challenge for Rachel Homan and Kevin Koe is to extend Canadian Olympic curling dominance by succeeding gold-medal teams that they helped dethrone at the Olympic Trials.

Team Homan and Team Koe emerged from one of the most difficult Olympic selection processes for any sport in any nation, winning the Roar of the Rings in Ottawa on Sunday.

Homan, whose team last season became the first to go undefeated at a world championship, beat Chelsea Carey‘s team 6-5 in the women’s final. Carey had gone unbeaten in round-robin play, including an 8-4 win over Homan in the opener.

But Homan won her last nine games, including back-to-back victories over Sochi Olympic champion Jennifer Jones‘ team, eliminating Jones and Co. in Saturday’s semifinal.

Homan, 28 and ranked No. 3 in the world, can become the youngest female skip to win an Olympic title since women’s curling debut at the Winter Games in 1998.

Canada has earned a medal in every Olympic women’s tournament, and Homan is now the youngest Olympic female skip in history.

Koe will make his Olympic debut at age 43 after beating Mike McEwen‘s team 7-6 in Sunday night’s final.

Koe’s team won their first seven games in round-robin play, including beating Sochi gold medalist Brad Jacobs, to earn a bye into the final.

Koe lost to 2017 World champion Brad Gushue in the round-robin finale, but McEwen then knocked out Gushue in the semifinal.

Koe is seasoned, having won the 2010 and 2016 World titles, and is ranked fifth in the world (he outlasted three teams at trials that are ranked ahead of him). He was fourth and sixth at the previous two Olympic Trials.

Two members of Koe’s team — lead Ben Hebert and third Marc Kennedy — will try to become the first men to win two Olympic curling gold medals. Hebert and Kennedy took the 2010 Olympic title with Kevin Martin.

Canada’s Olympic curling team is not yet set.

The mixed doubles trials are Jan. 2-7 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The curlers who won Sunday cannot compete in the mixed doubles trials.

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