Grand Slam delivers goods, Nix says

Sports

By all accounts fans got what they were looking for from the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, host co-chairman Jim Nix says.

Near capacity crowds watched on Sunday as Team Jacobs from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. defeated Team Brad Gushue from St. John’s, N.L. 6-4 to capture the men’s Tier I championship at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.

It’s phenomenal,” Nix said. “I think we envisioned that the county would be as avid supporters as they were, given that a lot of these people are not curlers, but it cannot get better than for them to see the best curlers in the world play.”

Jacobs’ team scored a huge three-ended in the seventh end and left Gushue with a difficult shot with his last attempt, which allowed Jacobs to retain the championship.

Team Anna Hasselborg of Sweden defeated Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man. 8-5 to win the women’s Tier I title.

In tier II action, Team Korey Dropkin of the U.S. edged Team Tanner Horgan of Winnipeg 5-4 to win the men’s title.

Team Min-Ji Kim from South Korea won the Tier II women’s honours with a 9-2 victory over Team Jestyn Murphy of Mississauga, Ont.

Team Kim counted two in the first end, stole two in the third end and stole five in the fourth end to engineer the rout.

Gushue’s team from St. John’s,N.L. continued its unbeaten string at the event by advancing to the final with a 6-3 victory over Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe in one of two Tier I men’s semifinal matches on Saturday evening.

Gushoe dodged a bullet with a 2-0 lead when Koe missed a low-odds raise takeout with his last delivery and Gushue counting two in the house.

The all-Canadian semifinal was the result of quarter-final matches earlier on Saturday.

Jacobs cruised to a 7-3 victory over previously unbeaten Team Bottcher.

The all-Canadian semifinal was the result of quarter-final matches earlier on Saturday.

Bottcher ousted Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen 6-2, while Jacobs defeated Team Glenn Howard 6-2, Koe dispatched Teram John Shuster from the U.S. 6-1 and Gushue edged Team Niklas Edin of Sweden 4-3.

Gushue’s game turned on Edin’s missed raise takeout try in the sixth end, allowing Gushue to take a 3-1 lead.

Einarson eliminated Japan’s Team Satsuki 7-4, while Hasselborg topped Team Nina Roth of the U.S. 8-5 on Saturday. Einarson’s Canadian foursome was the only one of four Canadian teams to advance to the semifinals. Her team edged Swiss Team Silvana Tirinzoni 6-5, while Team Hasselborg defeated Team Kelsey Rosque 7-3.

Nix lauded the gesture by Team Gushue to conduct a training session with the help of his sponsor Belfor Restoration for local fire fighters who curled last Friday at the Bluenose Curling Club.

“The Gushue team understands their passion to take the time to spend two hours with a group,” Nix said.

Host co-chairperson Donalda Buckingham praised the wide contributions to the success of the tournament.

“People have been super supportive, from the players to the volunteers to the fans,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about – they’re so glad to be here.”

Special Olympics curler Chris Atkinson said he enjoyed posting scores for Tier II matches that he worked as a volunteer.

“It was cold but it was worth it,” he said. “I skip but I know quite a bit more from being here. It’s a nice thing to do for the people.”


Chris Atkinson takes a break from posting scores for a Tier II curling match.(Goodwin photo)