Championship Sunday: Calgary’s Koe, Ottawa’s Homan take first Grand Slam titles
BRANTFORD, Ont. – Calgary’s Kevin Koe and Ottawa’s Rachel Homan scored the first Grand Slam of Curling title victories of their careers by winning The Rogers Masters.
The $200,000 super-event involved 68 international men’s and womens’ teams and was hosted at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, the Brantford Golf and Country Club, the Brant Curling Club and the Paris Curling Club.
Koe and his World Curling Tour money-leading squad of third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen defeated Jim Cotter’s foursome from Kelowna and Vernon, B.C. by a 7-5 score in Sunday’s men’s championship final. Cotter struck first with a deuce in the opening end, but Koe responded with his own deuce and a force in the third end. After a blank in the fourth end, a Cotter misstep opened the door to a Koe three-ender and a 5-3 lead.
Koe stole the next end, but Cotter responded with his second pair of the match to cut the lead to 6-5. In the final end, Cotter’s last-ditch come-around touched the four-foot rings and Koe was forced to draw towards the button, which he made perfectly.
“This was my seventh Grand Slam final and my first win,” exulted Koe, who captured the world men’s curling championship in 2010. “it’s been a long time coming.”
“This was my third Slam final and my first win,” said Simmons, with a wide grin.
Team Koe’s $20,000 payday vaulted them even higher on the WCT money list, at over $84,000 in total winnings.
“This feels great, it’s been an outstanding year,” said Koe. “We’ve won the three biggest events we’ve played in, and we’ve got a bit of a monkey off our backs now.”
In the women’s championship final, Homan stole a critical deuce in the third end for a 3-0 lead over Chelsea Carey of Morden, Man. only to see Carey rebound with a deuce of her own. However, the 2011 Ontario champions – which include third Emma Miskew, second Alison Krviazuk and lead Lisa Weagle – came back from the mid-game break with another pair for a 5-2 lead, and after holding the Manitobans to a single, they cracked a huge three-ender on a runback to salt the victory.
Homan’s perfect 5-0 round-robin record padded her winner’s cheque to $20,500. That vaulted the youthful foursome from second place on the WCT women’s money list into first, with over $52,000 in winnings this season.
“Yeah, we’ve been doing really well on the Slam side of the events, but it’s nice to finally win a final,” said Homan, a curling prodigy since the age of 13. “I think we picked the right one to win, and this is just an amazing feeling.”
Kevin Martin of Edmonton and Steve Laycock of Regina each earned $8,000 for their semifinal finishes. Earlier on Sunday, Martin fell 6-5 to provincial rival Koe while Laycock fell 6-3 to Cotter.
The Saskatchewan squad won an additional $5,500 for reaching the final of a World Curling Tour event hosted concurrently during The Rogers Masters, which elevated them into the Grand Slam playoff round.
In women’s semifinal action, Homan made a storming comeback to defeat Scotland’s Eve Muirhead 5-4, while Carey dismantled Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni by a 7-2 count. Tirinzoni won $8,000 for her efforts while Muirhead took home $7,500.
[Sportsnet photos copyright ® by Anil Mungal. Click on images to increase viewing size]