John Morris and Kevin Martin celebrate after winning the National. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

Kevin Martin wins National for 16th Grand Slam title

December 19, 2010, 4:04 PM

VERNON, B.C. — Olympic champion Kevin Martin wrapped up a dream year winning his record 16th Grand Slam championship with a 5-3 victory over Jeff Stoughton in Sunday’s final at the National.

The Edmonton-based team of Martin, third John Morris, second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert won the gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Games and captured three Grand Slam of Curling titles during an unforgettable 2010.

“I’m ready for a break,” said Martin, who earned $24,000 for the National victory. “2010 was just an amazing year for our team and to finish it off like that it’s a dream.”

Martin grabbed the lead with a deuce in the fourth end — thanks to the amazing brush work of Kennedy and Hebert to save both of the skip’s stone — and stole one in the fifth to go ahead 3-1.

Stoughton tied it up with a deuce in the sixth and forced Martin to a single in seven to give up the lead but take the hammer coming home.

Martin’s last shot was tight and he trailed Kennedy and Hebert down the sheet as they bailed him out again and were able to sweep it past a guard by a razor-thin margin. Stoughton still had a chance to score two for the win but had to pull off a triple takeout and failed to convert as Martin tacked on a single steal.

The National was a grind for Martin, who finished round-robin play at 3-2 with losses to Stoughton and Sweden’s Niklas Edin. Martin faced Edin again in the quarterfinals and avenged the loss 9-6. The rematch with Stoughton was set when Martin managed to lift his team over Toronto’s Wayne Middaugh 6-5 in the semifinals despite a misfire on his last shot of the final frame that still resulted in a decisive two-count.

“I’m just drained,” Martin said. “It will be nice to just relax for a while, because we’ve got a big January up ahead. We need to get some quick rest. This year we’re off to Hawaii, real early in the morning. The whole family, including extended family, we’ve never done that before.”

The Winnipeg-based team of Stoughton, third Jon Mead, second Reid Carruthers, and lead Steve Gould finished runner-up for the second consecutive time at a Grand Slam event to cash in $17,000. Stoughton fell to city rival Mike McEwen in last month’s World Cup of Curling final.

Stoughton remains a National title away from joining Martin, Middaugh and Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., as skips who have completed career Grand Slams.

NOTES: McEwen started red-hot running 5-0 through the round-robin portion, but Glenn Howard cooled the World Cup winner 4-3 during the quarterfinals. … Edin also went 5-0 in the preliminary stage before being ousted by Martin. … Stoughton upended Howard 8-5 during the semis. … Stoughton’s win over Martin in the round-robin portion was his first over the Ol’ Bear in three years following 12 consecutive defeats. … Reigning world champion Kevin Koe of Edmonton missed the playoffs with a 2-3 round-robin record.