Will scintillating semis lead to fascinating finals?
BRANTFORD, Ont. – Calgary’s Kevin Koe and Jim Cotter of Kelowna, B.C. are through to the men’s championship of The Rogers Masters. Meanwhile, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan and Chelsea Carey of Morden, Man. have clinched berths in the women’s championship.
Both finals of the $200,000 Grand Slam of Curling event are now underway, live from the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre on CBC-TV and also streamed online here (in-Canada only).
Koe’s 2010 world curling champions continued their stellar season with a taut and occasionally thrilling 6-5 semifinal victory over provincial rival Kevin Martin of Edmonton on Sunday morning.
For much of the match, Koe stood alone as the other seven athletes struggled with their game, and Koe led 4-1 after four ends of play. Martin replied with a deuce in the fifth end and held Koe to a single to trail 5-3 coming home.
That’s when Koe third Pat Simmons gassed a takeout, and things got interesting.
When the smoke cleared, Martin had wriggled another pair and the match went to an extra-end at 5-5.
On Koe’s final shot of the match, he ignored two Martin counters and threw the draw to the button, but his stone hung wide and continued to slide. In the end, neither team could identify the winning stone and an umpire with a measuring stick was called in… and the Calgary squad was declared the winners, and advanced to the final.
The loss continued Team Martin’s recent frustration on the Grand Slam circuit. After winning an unprecedented 17 Grand Slam of Curling titles over his lengthy career, Martin has now competed in five Slams without capturing a title. His last victory in the elite tournament series was the Players’ Championship at Grande Prairie, Alta. in April of 2011.
Cotter, who has jelled nicely with new third Jason Gunnlaugson, defeated Regina’s Steve Laycock 6-3 in the other semifinal. The Saskatchewan foursome was held to three singles during the match, while two early deuces set the tone for the B.C. squad.
The Martin and Laycock teams each earned $8,000 for their semifinal finishes. Laycock won an additional $5,500 for reaching the final of a World Curling Tour event hosted concurrently by three area curling facilities, which elevated his squad into the Rogers Masters playoff round.
In women’s semifinal action, Ottawa’s Homan won her seventh Masters match in a row by beating reigning European champion Eve Muirhead of Scotland by a 5-4 scoreline. The result was a horror show for Muirhead, who held leads of 3-1 and 4-2 but dropped a stunning three-count in the eighth and final end for the loss.
It was the second win for Homan in four days over her Scottish rival. On Thursday night, the 2011 Ontario champions scored a big five-ender to beat the Scots 8-2 in a round-robin matchup.
In the other women’s semi, Carey’s Manitoba crew scored a 7-2 victory over Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland. The unusual linescore showed that Tirinzoni scored singles in the opening two ends and then held Carey to a single for a 2-1 lead. But that was it for the Swiss, who dropped three consecutive steals of two.
Tirinzoni won $8,000 during the week and Muirhead took home $7,500.
And there’s mo’ money to be awarded in the next hour + or so…
[Sportsnet photos copyright ® by Anil Mungal. Click on images to increase viewing size]