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Ontario curling dads soak up another Scotties





ST. CATHARINES, ONT. — High above the curling sheets in the last row of seats at the Meridian Centre you'll find Craig Homan and Art Miskew sitting right beside one another. The two are the fathers of Ontario skip Rachel Homan and third Emma Miskew.

"Rachel and Emma met each other when they were four or five," said Craig. "And so they have played with and against each other for 23 years. It's like one big family."

For as long as Rachel and Emma have curled together, the dads have sat together, agonizingly dissecting and discussing every shot.

"To be [at the Scotties], for Craig and I, our fifth time in seven years since the girls have been out of juniors is almost hard to believe," said Art.

It has been a remarkable run for the team from the Ottawa Curling Club. According to the World Curling Tour rankings, they are No. 1 in the world. They're undefeated so far at this year's Scotties and favourites to win.

The fearsome foursome — made up of Homan, Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Liesa Weagle — won back-to-back Scotties titles in 2013 and 2014.

After losing in the provincial playdowns last year, the team is back at the Canadian women's championship in St. Catharines this week.

"We couldn't do it without them and we wouldn't be here without them," Emma said of the dads, who couldn't be happier to be back.

"There was so much pressure leading up to this," said Art. "Our girls were expected to be here. It was a great relief to get here."

Hockey vs. curling

Being a skip and being a goalie carries a lot of weight. They are both high-profile spots in their respective sports.

Craig Homan is the father to both.

"I find curling more difficult to watch than when my son played hockey," said Craig. "He was a junior goalie in Ottawa."

There have been a lot of tense times in the stands over the years.

"This is different," said Craig. "This is drawn out. It's more emotional. It's more gut-wrenching."

Craig has logged many kilometres on the road traveling from curling rink to hockey rink. It isn't lost on his daughter.

"It means a lot to me," said Rachel. "He's always there cheering us on but it's tough on his nerves."

Superstitions?

Craig often paces around during games, though he flat-out denies he's superstitious.

"I like to go back and forth so I can see better," he said. "It's not a luck thing."

Art, on the other hand, openly talks about his lucky pair of shoes or sweaters or, well, just about anything that works when the ladies win a game.

"Different things depending on how it goes," Art said. "In the provincial semifinal I had my duck shoes on and I switched to my running shoes. Then it snowed and we won with the running shoes on so I had to stick with the running shoes."

He goes on.

"I wasn't buying 50/50 tickets and then I started buying them for the games the girls were playing. So things like this."

Rachel and Emma are aware of their dads' quirks.

"I think we've all started to realize that all our parents are superstitious," said Emma. "My dad will be like, this is the unlucky jacket. Or this is the lucky sweater."

Rachel keeps an eye on her dad during the games.

"I know he gets pretty nervous and it's hard for him to stay in one place," she said. "He paces a lot. I'm not sure if it helps our game when he paces. I think he thinks it does."

Both fathers and daughters are hoping all the superstition and luck pays off this week and translates to a third Scotties Tournament of Hearts championship.


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