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Sunday, 1 May 2016

#BetweenTheSheets: Champions Cup Women's Final Preview
The #curling season ends with a heavyweight clash of the titans

The curling gods have blessed the national curling audience with our upcoming #ChampionsCup Women's Championship finale.  In one corner, we have one of the greatest teams ever assembled in Team Jennifer Jones.  In the other corner, we have Team Rachel Homan who found success on tour all season and will be looking to end with one of the most dominant tour seasons ever.

Both teams have looked great on the ice this week in Strathcona County...and also a bit vulnerable.  This final also may have a bit of recent #historyrepeating.  Jones and Homan have already met in a grand slam final this season, with Homan defeating Jones 8-7 at the Canadian Open back in December.  JJ has not won a grand slam event this season while Homan has won all but one.  Let's go to the Tale of the Tape for a team comparison:

          Team Jones                                                                                                    Team Homan

                 #2                                                       YTD Ranking                                       #1

3-1 RR, def. Sweeting (QF)                               Road to the Final                3-1 RR, def. Rocque (QF),           Tirinzoni (SF)                                                                                                   Einarson (SF)

                 1                                                        2015/16 Tour Wins                                7       

Runner Up (Canadian Open, Players)            Best #gsoc Season Result             Winner (Masters,                                                                                                                                 National, Canadian Open) 

Winner DEKALB Superspiel, MB Scotties        Season Highlight            1st team to win first 3 grand                                                                                                                             slam events, winner of                                                                                                                                        Rogers Cup

Scotties Champ (x5), World Champ (2008),       Career Highlight                       Scotties Champ (x2) 
Olympic Champ (2014), 11 #gsoc titles                                                                     5 #gsoc titles

The numbers speak for themselves don't they?  These are two of the most dominant and consistent teams on tour, not only this year but in the past few years.  Worth noting Jennifer Jones, Jill Officer and Dawn McEwen will be looking to collect grand slam title #12, extending their record for most female slam wins.  But what kind of game should we expect in the championship final?  Here is the #TwineTime preview:

Jones Key to Success:  Take it to Homan early right off the bat.  We all know the Homan game plan is to try and keep the opening ends light to get warmed up and score in even ends.  If Jones can throw off the plan forcing rocks in play at the start, an uncomfortable Homan could lead to a smiling Jones by end 8.

Homan Key to Success:  If it ain't broke, why fix it?  The blueprint for slam success has been used all season and seems to work.  Open ends for 1-3, start throwing rocks in play end 4 and score every even end.  Seems simple right?  But it works!  Homan has to keep control of the game plan and not get trapped in a game of cat and mouse with Jones. 

Jones Wins If:  Second Jill Officer and skip Jennifer Jones need to get hot early on.  Both players have the player percentage advantage over their position counterparts for the week and by a minimum of 4%.  Officer will need to be on point for the big shots when asked to help ensure the skipper has a shot later in the end.  We know Jones can make the circus shots in the big moments...but why test your luck every end?  

Homan Wins If:  Vice Emma Miskew will be the key for a Homan victory.  She will need to go toe to toe with Kaitlyn Lawes and outcurl her in this final.  Miskew can get the Homan team out of trouble and save an end when needed.  But she can also set up a big end for Rachel and help produce the multiple point ends as well.  If Miksew finds her groove right from the beginning, watch out!

#TwineTime Championship Prediction:  Team Homan over Team Jones - Having watched both teams live the past few days, this is almost a complete toss-up to be honest.  Both teams are on a hot streak and making almost everything.  The SF wins yesterday were not slam dunk affairs and both were challenged but they came through in the clutch near the end of the games to pull off the victories.  This season seems to belong to Homan though.  The miss at the Scotties was tough and will probably make the season feel a bit unresolved but if they can wrap up the final grand slam title of the season, collecting 4 of 6 overall, you can't deny them the title of Team of the Year.  Jones will be hungry for the first slam title of the season, and a bit of revenge from the Canadian Open final, but may find herself in an uphill battle near the end.  Unlike earlier in the season, Homan does look beatable now, advantage for Jones.  But I think one too many circus shots being needed will be the downfall here and Homan slides off into the season sunset with another slam title.

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