Brad Gushue claims Pan Continental men’s curling title
Brad Gushue flourished his team’s dominant curling to become the first men’s Pan Continental champion on Sunday.
To inject levity into a lopsided 11-3 victory over South Korea in the final, Canada’s skip wove his last rock in the eighth end under his front leg and delivered it on the outside of his knee for a trick shot.
“I’ve done it a lot in clinics and things like that and showing kids,” Gushue said. “Usually I can hit the rings, but I’m a little disappointed it went through there. Epic mistake.”
The South Koreans, ready to concede in the eighth end, were content to peel solitary stones in the rings to hasten the game’s conclusion.
Gushue’s team from St. John’s, NL, scored two runs in the first end, stole one in the second, scored four in the fourth and stole three more in the fifth for a 10-1 lead.
“The ice was really good for the first four or five ends,” the skipper said. “We really felt like let’s be aggressive in the first five ends, see if we can get some steals, get some big finishes and then just hang 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 to the 46-year-old European Curling Championship.
Gushue reached an international podium for the third time in 2022 after winning Olympic bronze in February and World Championship silver in April.
“Certainly for us, we’re still very proud to win this,” Gushue said. “There are a lot of good teams here and we played really well. We’re going to 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 that finished in the top five in Calgary secured a place in the 2023 World Cup for their countries, but Canada has an automatic entry as the host country for the men’s tournament in Ottawa.
South Korea, bronze medalist USA, Japan and New Zealand qualified for the April competition.
Kerri Einarson, who locked up Canada’s spot at the women’s championships in Sandviken, Sweden in March, met Tabitha Peterson of the United States for bronze on Sunday afternoon.
Einarson lost Saturday’s semifinal 6-5 to Olympic silver medalist Satsuki Fujisawa, who sent Japan to Sunday’s final against South Korea’s Seungyoun Ha.
New Zealand’s women earned the second place for the World Championship at this event.
Gushue faced non-traditional curling opponents such as Chinese Tapei, Australia and Brazil at Calgary’s WinSport Event Centre.
After a 10-8 loss to the USA to open the tournament, Gushue, vice president Mark Nichols, new sophomore EJ Harnden and lead Geoff Walker won eight straight games and outscored the opposition 80-24.
“The teams we played probably weren’t of the caliber that we see on the Grand Slam circuit, but I think even if we had played like this in the Grand Slam, we would have been there at the end of the week.” Gushue said.
With Harnden new to his team this season as Brett Gallant’s replacement, Gushue said the Pan Continental was a chance for his changed lineup to gain international experience together.
Canada’s big early leaders throughout the week also opened the door for 19-year-old alternate Nathan Young to get some game reps.
“I don’t get to play on that type of ice very often,” Young said. “Coming out and throwing on that ice is really beneficial. Also, it’s a little nerve-wracking when you’re sitting in the hack and Team Gushue is kind of controlling your rock.
“It’s good practice to just focus on the shot. It was really nice of the guys to get me in as much as they did.”
The next event for Gushue and the company is 6-11. December in Oakville, Ont., for the Grand Slam’s Masters.
“Once a month for the rest of the year was strategic for us,” Gushue said. “It’s a year after the Olympics. We don’t want to wear ourselves out.
“We’re old, so we have to make sure we’re ready in three years for (Olympic) trials.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 6, 2022.