Fans at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre were treated to both a dominant performance and a see-saw battle in the finals of the Masters Grand Slam of Curling on Sunday.
The women’s final ended with the team skipped by Rachel Homan finishing the tournament the way they started it – steamrolling its opponents with an 8-3 victory.
The men’s final was a nail-biter that came down to the final stone in the eighth end that skip Kevin Koe placed right on the button to secure a 7-5 win over Jim Cotter’s team.
For Calgary’s Koe, it was a breakthrough win during a strong season.
“Six (Grand Slam) finals is a lot over the years (without a win),” he said. “It feels good to finally win one.”
The $20,000 in prize money further elevates Koe’s team as the money leaders on the World Curling Tour this season.
“We played well,” he said. “You can’t win one of these without playing well. We weren’t exactly rolling on all cylinders the whole time, but we made key shots when we had to.”
One key shot was Koe’s final stone. Cotter was trailing 6-5 in the final end and managed to curl his last rock onto the four-foot rings as shot rock behind a guard.
That forced Koe to aim for the button to win the end and avoid an extra frame.
“I was a little nervous,” he said. “But it was good sweeping to get it there.”
Koe’s team consists of lead Nolan Thiessen, second Carter Rycroft and vice Pat Simmons.
On Sunday morning, Koe had to knock off provincial rival Kevin Martin’s team in the semifinals. The game went to an extra end before Koe secured a 6-5 victory.
Rogers Sportsnet took over the Grand Slam this season and the Brantford event was the first in the four-event series.
Hours before the tournament began it was announced that the Grand Slam of Curling would offer a $1 million prize for a men’s team that can capture all four tournament titles this season.
“It’s nice we are the only team with a chance,” Koe said with a laugh. “But we’ve been at this for years trying to win just one (Grand Slam), so I’m not going to get too excited about winning four.”
On the women’s side, Homan’s team went 8-0 in the tournament with the only close score coming in Sunday’s semifinal against Scotland’s Eve Muirhead.
In the final, the Ottawa native took an early 3-0 lead over Manitoba’s Chelsea Carey, extended it to 5-3 and then put the final nail in the coffin with a double takeout in the seventh end.
The $20,500 purse vaulted the Homan team past Saskatchewan’s Stefanie Lawton into first place on the World Curling Tour women’s money list.
The next Grand Slam for the men this season will be the Canadian Open, taking place Dec. 12 to Dec. 16 in Kelowna, British Columbia.
The men also have The National in Nova Scotia in January and then both the men and women will play the Players’ Championship in Toronto in April to conclude the Grand Slam season.