TORONTO — Reaching a whole other level remains the top priority for reigning world champion Brad Gushue heading into a busy stretch of the season.
While winning three titles through four events to start 2017-18 would make it seem like his team from St. John’s, N.L., is already in mid-season form, Gushue believes the results are a little bit of “smoke and mirrors” with plenty of kinks to work out between now and December’s Canadian Olympic Curling Trials.
It was a feeling Gushue had after capturing the Tour Challenge Tier 1 last month and one he reiterated Monday following his 4-2 win over Codey Maus in the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard final.
“I don’t think it’s a positive or a negative, to be honest,” said Gushue, who was also victorious at the Swiss Cup Basel the week prior. “The three events, we played well in. Really, we’re looking forward to getting home, practising and try to elevate our game. In the first three events I felt like some teams played probably not as well as they could have against us. We’re still making some good shots, don’t get me wrong, but I definitely see some room for improvement.”
— Jonathan Brazeau (@JonathanBrazeau) October 9, 2017
The final featured both excellent shot-making and lucky breaks for Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker. With the game level at 1-1, Gushue was able to split the rings in the fourth end to set up a textbook deuce and picked up a steal in the fifth as Team Maus fourth Scott McDonald couldn’t quite clean up the cluttered house and rolled too far.
After a blank in six (thanks to Gushue making an incredible across-the-house double takeout to leave his opponent out of options), Team Maus settled for a single in seven to close the gap to a couple. Needing to steal two, McDonald stopped short of the house with his first stone in the eighth allowing Gushue to hit Team Maus’s lone rock out of the rings and seal the deal.
Gushue admitted some bad habits have been creeping in and he’s hoping to iron things out with two major Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events — the Masters in Lloydminster, Sask., and the Boost National in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. — serving as the final tests before the Olympic Trials.
“Really going forward now, we’re looking to getting on the ice, practising every day, working on some stuff and really just fine-tuning,” Gushue said. “I think once we get to the Slams in Lloydminster and in particular in Sault Ste. Marie, that’s when we’re going to be able to kind of tell how our form is leading into the trials.”
Ice time has been an issue for Team Gushue as they haven’t had any back home in St. John’s yet. Their front-loaded tour schedule was by design and the result of having to practise by playing.
“Hopefully, now this week when we get back to St. John’s we’ll have some ice and be able to practise,” Gushue said. “Otherwise, if we were to take a week off at this time of the year we wouldn’t be on the ice at all. We felt play as much as we can September and early October and we’ll space it out then in November and the end of October.”
1st End: Tippin stays on target
Julie Tippin turned in another undefeated performance to capture her second title on tour this season.
The Woodstock, Ont., team of Tippin, third Chantal Duhaime, second Rachelle Vink and lead Tess Bobbie went 7-0 through the women’s side of the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard defeating Chrissy Cadorin 5-2 in Monday’s final
Tippin also went on a 7-0 run two weeks ago at the KW Fall Classic in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ont.
Team Tippin will take the long road next month through the pre-trials in Summerside, P.E.I., before they can qualify for the main event and their skip believes they’re right on track.
“We’re kind of exactly where we want to be right now. We’ve built our schedule to be peaking around this time and going forward for the trials,” Tippin said. “We’re happy with how we’re playing and we’ve just got to carry it forward.”
While their record was perfect, Tippin did escape with a couple of extra-end steals over Tracy Fleury during the round-robin portion and Krista McCarville in the semifinals.
The final was also quite the tight battle with singles going steady and Tippin holding a slim 3-2 lead after seven. Cadorin held the hammer coming home, but Tippin put the pressure on and the Thornhill, Ont., native was unable to get shot rock on her last to give up a steal of two.
— Jonathan Brazeau (@JonathanBrazeau) October 10, 2017
2nd End: Homan reclaims top spot on tour
Ottawa’s Rachel Homan is back on top of the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit.
A rare “bye week” for Anna Hasselborg allowed Homan to leapfrog the Swedish skip and reclaim the No. 1 ranking after defeating American Nina Roth 6-4 in Monday’s final at the Curlers Corner Autumn Gold Curling Classic in Calgary.
The team of Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle finished with an overall 8-1 record with their lone blemish against Chelsea Carey’s crew in the A qualifier of the triple knockout preliminary round. Homan avenged the loss clipping Carey 6-4 in the semifinals.
Roth opened the final with the hammer, but gave up a steal in the first before taking the lead with a deuce in the second. Homan took control tying it in the third and used thievery again to swipe points in the fourth and fifth ends to pull ahead 4-2. Roth made it all square again with another pair in the sixth, but Homan matched with a deuce in seven.
The semifinal finish helped Team Carey, of Calgary, climb up three spots to 13th on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit.
3rd End: Liu clips Koe in Edmonton
China’s Rui Liu topped Calgary’s Kevin Koe 6-2 in Monday’s final at the Direct Horizontal Drilling Fall Classic in Edmonton.
Liu, who was undefeated at 6-0 in the tournament, got on the board with a deuce in the second and never looked back. He forced Koe to a single in three, counted three in the fourth and stole one in the fifth. The two-time world champion Koe was limited to another lone point in six.
4th End: Wang wins Women’s Masters Basel
Bingyu Wang also scored a title for China this weekend capturing the Women’s Masters Basel in Switzerland.
The 2010 Olympic bronze medallist Wang trounced Binia Feltscher of Switzerland 9-3 in Sunday’s final.
After Wang settled for a single to start, Feltscher took the lead with a deuce in the third. Wang charged right back with a score of four in the following frame. The teams alternated singles in five and six and Wang rolled away tacking on a steal of three in the seventh.
The victory also moved Team Wang up three spots to 12th on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit.
5th End: Elsewhere on tour
Kaitlyn Jones was victorious at the New Scotland Clothing Ladies Cashspiel in Halifax. Jones, from Chester, N.S., edged Halifax’s Jill Brothers 3-2 in Monday’s final. Robert Mayhew thumped Owen Purcell 8-1 in the all-Halifax men’s final to claim the Bud Light Men’s Cashspiel.
Heath McCormick edged Sean Murray 5-4 in Sunday’s final at the St. Paul Cash Spiel in St. Paul, Minn. Jessica Schultz scored two in the eighth to top Cora Farrell 6-5 in the women’s final.
Reigning Saskatchewan Scotties champ Penny Barker captured the Regina Callie Rockoberfest with a 4-3 win over Rae Ann Williamson in Sunday’s final.
Joelle Brown doubled up Shannon Birchard 6-3 in Monday’s final at the Man Curl Tour Classic in Winnipeg. David Bohn beat Jordan Smith 4-2 for the men’s title.
6th End: Coming up this week
Another big men’s event is set for this weekend with the Canad Inns Men’s Classic in Portage la Prairie, Man. Reid Carruthers enters as the defending champ against a stacked field featuring Brad Jacobs, Mike McEwen, John Epping, Kevin Koe, Steve Laycock and more.
Also on tap are the McKee Homes Fall Curling Classic (Airdrie, Alta.), the Stroud Sleeman Cash Spiel (Stroud, Ont.), the Atkins Curling Supplies Classic (Winnipeg) and the Kalamazoo Men’s Classic (Kalamazoo, Mich.)
7th End: Two weeks to the Masters
The second event and first major of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season is only two weeks away.
The Masters is set for Centennial Civic Centre in Lloydminster, Sask., Oct. 24-29, with the full field confirmed and the draw schedule released.
One thing to note: A few teams were shuffled around in the pools resulting in some modifications to the draw schedule. Click here to see the revised table.
8th End: Boost National on the horizon
We’re also just a little over a month away from the Boost National running Nov. 14-19 at the Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. This past weekend marked the cut-off date for qualification, so teams should be expecting invites soon.
Tickets are now on sale at Essarcentre.ca.