Wayne Middaugh, Jon Mead, John Epping and Maxime Elmaleh celebrate after winning the National Grand Slam of Curling title (Photo Credit: Anil Mungal).

Middaugh steals to win National title from Gushue

December 7, 2008, 3:00 PM

QUEBEC CITY — Wayne Middaugh captured the National after stealing a point in the final end to defeat Brad Gushue 4-3 in Sunday’s final.

Gushue, of St. John’s, N.L., had a shot to win his first career Grand Slam of Curling title holding the hammer coming home tied 3-3. The reigning Olympic champion’s last rock rolled heavy and rubbed off of Middaugh’s shot rock and slid out of contention.

“On that type of shot you can’t really use the backing,” Gushue said. “If you throw weight to get to the backing it’s not going to curl, which is what happened. I really just had to throw t-line weight and I threw back-four, back-eight weight and that’s the reason we missed the shot.”

Middaugh, of Midland, Ont., picked up his eighth career Grand Slam title since 2001. His team includes third Jon Mead, second John Epping and lead Scott Bailey, who missed the final due to a neck injury sustained during Saturday’s semifinals. Maxime Elmaleh, who played with Jean-Michel Menard’s team, filled in at lead.

“I’ve probably only got a few years left to play so this (victory) is really exciting because we know that we can still compete at this level,” Middaugh said. “I know we’ll get better and better and be ready for the (Canadian Olympic) Trials hopefully come next year.”

Middaugh never held the lead during the game, however he had an opportunity to pull ahead in the seventh end with a shot for three while trailing 3-1. The two-time world champion’s rock rolled out of the house and he had to settle for a deuce to tie it setting the table for the dramatic eighth end.

Team Middaugh finished the National with a 7-1 record overall earning $24,500 and 36.000 Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) points. Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Ryan Fry and lead Jamie Korab finished at 6-2 to cash in $17,000 and 27.000 CTRS points.

Glenn Howard, of Coldwater, Ont., won the season-opening Masters but missed the playoffs at the National. Gushue, a semifinalist at the Masters, now leads in the chase for the bonus points cup.