CALGARY — Brad Gushue put a special spin on his team’s dominant curling to become the men’s inaugural Pan-Continental champion on Sunday.
To add even more ease to a lopsided 11-3 win over South Korea in the final, Canada’s Skip slipped his last stone of the eighth end under his front leg and set it down on the outside of his knee for a trick shot.
“I’ve done it a lot in clinics and things like that and shown it to kids,” Gushue said. “Usually I can hit the rings but I’m a bit disappointed it went through there.
The South Koreans, ready to surrender in the eighth end, were content to shell individual checkers in the rings to speed up the game’s ending.
Gushue’s team from St. John’s, NL scored two points in the first end, stole one in the second, scored four in the fourth and stole another three in the fifth for a 10-1 lead.
“The ice was really good for the first four or five ends,” Skip said. “We really felt like, let’s be aggressive in the first five ends, see if we can get some steals, get some big ends, and then just kind of hold on.”
The World Curling Federation introduced the Pan Continental Curling Championship this year as a world championship qualifier for all countries outside of Europe and to provide a regional equivalent of the 46-year-old European Curling Championship.
Gushue made his third international podium in 2022 after winning Olympic bronze in February and World Championships silver in April.
“Obviously we’re still very proud to have won this,” Gushue said. “There are a lot of good teams here and we played really well. We’ll give ourselves a little pat on the back. It certainly doesn’t have the same prestige as the Europeans yet, but give it time.”
Teams finishing in the top five in Calgary secured World Championship spots for their countries in 2023, but Canada is automatically eligible to host the men’s event in Ottawa.
South Korea, bronze medalists USA, Japan and New Zealand qualified for April’s competition.
Kerri Einarson, who clinched Canada’s place at the Women’s Championship in Sandviken, Sweden in March, met Tabitha Peterson of the United States for bronze on Sunday afternoon.
Einarson lost 6-5 to Olympic silver medalist Satsuki Fujisawa in Saturday’s semifinals, sending Japan into Sunday’s final against South Korea’s Seungyoun Ha.
The New Zealand women earned second place for the World Championships at this event.
Gushue faced non-traditional curling opponents including Chinese Tapei, Australia and Brazil at the WinSport Event Center in Calgary.
After an 8-10 loss to the United States to open the tournament, Gushue, runner-up Mark Nichols, new runner-up EJ Harnden and leader Geoff Walker won eight games in a row, topping their opponents 80-24.
“The teams we played against were probably not of the caliber that we see on the Grand Slam circuit, but I think even if we had played like that at the Grand Slams we would be there by the end of the week been.” Gushue said.
With Harnden new to his team this season as a replacement for Brett Gallant, Gushue said Pan Continental is a chance for his changed roster to gain international experience.
Canada’s big early leads during the week also opened the door for 19-year-old substitute Nathan Young to get some play-replays.
“I don’t get to play that kind of rink that often,” Young said. “Getting out there and throwing on the ice is really beneficial. Also, sitting in the hack and Team Gushue somehow controlling their rock is pretty nerve-wracking.
“It’s good practice just to focus on the shot. It was really nice of the guys to bring me in as far as they did.”
The next event for Gushue and company is December 6-11 in Oakville, Ontario for the Grand Slam’s Masters.
“Once a month for the rest of the year was strategic for us,” Gushue said. “It’s a post-Olympic year. We don’t want to exhaust ourselves.
“We’re old, so we have to make sure we’re ready for the (Olympic) trials in three years.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 6, 2022.
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