Team Homan, Team Retornaz victorious at 2023 WFG Masters in Saskatoon Wa Jobz

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When it came down to crunch time at Merlis Belsher Place on Sunday, it was clutch shots thrown by a pair of veterans on the Grand Slam of Curling tour which resulted in championship celebrations.

Six days of high-paced curling in Saskatoon came to a close with the last day of the 2023 WFG Masters, featuring the men’s and women’s finals which both were won in thrilling fashion.

Rachel Homan’s team would not be denied their first Grand Slam title of the 2023-24 season, as they rolled to an 8-4 victory over Silvana Tirinzoni’s rink in the early draw.

Trailing 1-0 heading to the third end, Homan broke things open with a four-spot to take control of the game and never looked back.

Homan was able to clinch the Masters title with her final throw in the seventh end, executing a perfect double take-out to add three points to her total to force handshakes from Tirinzoni.

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“Obviously nice to close out the game with that double,” said Homan. “It was really well called and it was just a strong performance I think throughout for our team. [Team Tirinzoni] played really well, they were coming back and [we] had to make everything to clinch out that in seven.”


Click to play video: 'Saskatoon serving as second home for Team Sweden curler Sofia Mabergs'

Saskatoon serving as second home for Team Sweden curler Sofia Mabergs 

 

While it was Team Homan’s first Grand Slam victory of the season, it marked their second win in Saskatchewan over the last calendar year as they captured the 2023 Champions Cup in Regina back in May.

Feeding off the Canada-crazy crowd in attendance, Homan said it was an exciting atmosphere in which to win a championship.

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“We love Saskatchewan, awesome people and always an amazing crowd,” said Homan. “Really fun to win in front of them. It was a great feeling and phenomenal way to end the game.”

Sunday’s victory added to an already historic Grand Slam resume for Team Homan, as no skip has won more women’s titles on tour.

A 14th career Grand Slam championship which leads the team right into the new year and the countdown towards the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“We know we’re doing a lot of things right,” said Homan. “Obviously there’s always room for improvement. Just going to keep taking those, moving forward, working on them and getting better. Hopefully we’ll bring our best in January and February.”

The men’s final brought even more dramatics, as it came down to the final shot in the eighth end by Italy’s Joël Retornaz rink needing a draw to the four-foot against Scotland’s Team Ross Whyte.

Like he’s done so many times this season, Retornaz was able to execute.

“We knew that coming home with the hammer in the last end it was what we were looking for,” said Retornaz. “We were looking for that situation, I had a four-foot draw and I know I can make those nine times out of 10 or even more. So I was pretty happy.”

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Following three straight scoreless ends, Team Retornaz was able to tally a pair of points in the fourth end before Whyte cut the deficit to 2-1 in the fifth.

A steal of one point in the sixth end helped knot up the score for Whyte, however Retornaz was able to blank the seventh before sealing the match on his final throw.

Sitting first in the World Men’s Curling rankings, Team Retornaz has been virtually untouchable this season as the WFG Masters title marked their third win of the season after the HearingLife Tour Challenge and KIOTI National.

A three-even sweep on the Grand Slam calendar which very few rinks have ever been able to accomplish.

“Three straight Slams means a lot because not a lot of skips were able to do that,” said Retornaz. “Some of them are the elite of world curling. So I’m really happy to join that small group of skips who have won three Slams in a row. My name goes on, but it’s the whole team.”

In Grand Slam play this season, Team Retornaz has only suffered two losses total, with their most recent being a 6-3 defeat to Team Carruthers in their opening game of the Masters.

Those were followed by six consecutive victories to emerge victorious in Saskatoon, continuing their win streak on tour and their astonishing run against the world’s top rinks.

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“It’s what I’m expecting from my team,” said Retornaz. “If you want to be at this stage and win, and be number one in the world, you have to perform very well.

“That’s what we are, that’s our game.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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