Nolan Thiessen, Carter Rycroft, Pat Simmons and Kevin Koe celebrate after winning the Grand Slam of Curling's Canadian Open title (Photo Credit: Anil Mungal).

Koe edges Gushue to win Canadian Open

November 17, 2013, 3:39 PM

Kevin Koe fired an incredible final stone that bounced to the button for shot rock in the final end to edge Brad Gushue 5-4 and win the Canadian Open on Sunday in Medicine Hat, Alta.

It’s the third Grand Slam of Curling title for Koe — his second as a skip — and the Calgary rink took home $24,000 at the cashspiel.

Koe said it was his miss for three in the fourth end where he gave up a steal of one that motivated him to land the game-winner.

“I didn’t think I threw it too bad in four but it went dead straight and we went into that final shot knowing exactly what it was going to do and all I had to do was throw it good,” Koe said. “I’m glad we pulled it off.”

The team of Koe, Nolan Thiessen, Carter Rycroft and Pat Simmons now turns its attention to the Canadian Olympic trials in Winnipeg in two weeks and the chance to represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Games has weighed heavily on their minds this past weekend.

“Obviously we’re trying to peak for Winnipeg and this was a big part,” Koe said. “We didn’t want to get pumped up too early in the season and it showed a bit in our early season results which were okay but not stellar.

“To come through and win this is a good feeling.”

Koe’s rink has been red-hot since the start of the tournament. He cruised to a 4-0 record and sustained his lone defeat against former teammate John Morris in his final round-robin match.

Koe topped Rob Rumfeldt 7-4 in the quarterfinals and then beat Masters champion Glenn Howard 4-3 in an extra end, preventing the Penetanguishene, Ont., rink from claiming the $1-million bonus if they swept the Grand Slam.

For Gushue’s squad, it was just a week ago that a couple mistakes against Brad Jacobs’ team in the Canadian pre-trials that saw the St. John’s rink miss out on a chance to reach the Roar of the Rings.

Gushue, the 2006 Olympic gold medallist, bounced back from that heartbreaking defeat as his rink held a 1-2 record in the round-robin but improved to .500 with a 7-6 victory over 17-time Slam winner Kevin Martin.

“We started off with the big disappointment of not getting through the pre-trials and to be quite honest the motivation here was pretty low and it showed on Thursday when we lost two out of three games,” Gushue said. “We had a good conversation Thursday night and basically said we’re out here now, let’s give it 110 percent.

“The way our team turned around on Friday and the way we performed even today was a true sign of how resilient our team is and how competitive even though our Olympic dreams ended.”

The 33-year-old Gushue clinched a playoff berth with a 9-4 win over Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock and set up a rematch against Martin in the quarterfinals. Gushue was victorious again against Martin, who invited Gushue to join his rink as an alternate at the Canadian trials.

Gushue iced Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton 4-2 in the semifinals with a clutch final shot in the eighth end.