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

Wayne Middaugh steals to win National from Brad Gushue

December 7, 2008, 3:00 PM

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

Gushue, of St. John’s, N.L., had an opportunity to win his first career Grand Slam of Curling title with the hammer coming home and the game tied. The reigning Olympic champion’s last rock rolled heavy, rubbed off of Middaugh’s shot stone and slid away to give up the steal.

“On that type of shot you can’t really use the backing,” Gushue told CBC Sports. “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 tee-line weight and I threw back-four, back-eight weight and that’s the reason we missed the shot.”

Middaugh picked up his ninth career Grand Slam championship. His Toronto-based team includes third Jon Mead, second John Epping and lead Scott Bailey, who missed the final after hurting his neck during Saturday’s semifinals. Maxime Elmaleh, who played with Jean-Michel Menard’s team, filled in at lead.

The win completed a career Grand Slam for Mead, who captured the Masters, Canadian Open and Players’ Championship titles when he played with Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton. It’s the first Grand Slam title for Epping.

“The guys in front of me played great,” Middaugh told CBC Sports. “Maxy, what an addition he was. He stayed cool under the gun the whole way through.”

“We kind of won that one for Scotty laying in bed in the room.”

Gushue opened with the hammer and never trailed during the game settling for a single in the second and stealing one in the third. The teams exchanged points in four and five and Middaugh blanked the sixth.

Middaugh had a chance to pull ahead in the seventh with a shot for three while trailing 3-1. The two-time world champion had to settle for a tying two points as his rock rolled out of the house and set the table for the thrilling final end.

Team Middaugh finished the National with a 7-1 record earning $24,500 and 36.000 Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) points. Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Ryan Fry and lead Jamie Korab ended 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. Gushue, a semifinalist at the Masters, now leads in the chase for the bonus cup awarded to the season’s overall champion.

Middaugh beat Martin Ferland of Trois-Rivieres, Que., 5-4 in the quarterfinals and Edmonton’s Kevin Martin 5-2 during the semis. Gushue defeated Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen 5-4 in an extra end and Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey 6-5 to advance to the championship game.

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