Martin gets 'er done

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Finally!

Kevin Martin. World champion.

After failing in five previous attempts to bring back gold from a major international curling event for Canada, the 41-year-old Edmonton skip finally is headed home with gold around his neck.

It was Canada's 31st World Curling Championship title since the event's beginning as the Scotch Cup in 1959 and the fourth for an Edmonton team in the past seven years. Randy Ferbey won it in 2002, 2003 and 2005.

"It's great to do it with these guys. I think they're great. The last two years have been fantastic," said Martin of his 24-, 25- and 29-year-old-teammates who have come to call their skip the Old Bear.

Martin and his team of John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert scored a 6-3 win over 2006 world champion David Murdoch of Scotland before a crowd of 4,211 which gave Grand Forks a total of 51,731, beating the previous U.S. record of 35,544 from the 1976 Worlds in Duluth, Minn.

PARTISAN CROWD

The crowd was made up almost entirely of Canadians, many of them down for the day from Winnipeg, virtually all of them decked out in red Maple Leaf garb.

They didn't have much to cheer for early as Martin, who had last rock advantage for 10 of his 11 round-robin games under the new draw-to-the-button rule to determine hammer prior to every game, was without. He had last rock for both playoff games but not for the final as a result of blowing a 6-2 lead in the 1-2 game to Scotland and losing 7-6.

With a couple dozen Scottish fans sitting together in one corner of the rink singing Tartan Army soccer songs, Murdoch threw his last rock on the first end through an entirely empty house for a blank. Two terrific shots by Morris in the second end got the fans off their hands and set up a steal of one when Murdoch missed an attempted double kill.

Murdoch missed a hit and stick attempt for two in the third end to take one and give Martin hammer for the first time in the fourth end with the score tied 1-1.

The EuroSports telecast kicked in overseas in time to see Martin peel to blank the end, which was better than the 6-2 deficit Scotland faced at the same point in the 1-2 game. But Murdoch's mates watching in the bar at the Railway Inn in Lochmaben, down the road from Lockerbie, watched Martin throw a raise takeout for two to take a 3-1 lead into the fifth end break.

Looking for the big end, Murdoch blanked the sixth but, in trouble early in the seventh when Martin made a spectacular hit and roll against two and the Scottish dairy farmer was left with a low percentage angle raise which he missed by a fraction of an inch to give Martin a steal of one and a 4-1 lead.

A raise for two in the eighth gave Murdoch two to cut the gap to 4-3. But Martin, who had lost the gold medal game at the 1991 Worlds and the 2002 Olympics, one of five previous international events he couldn't capture for Canada, wasn't about to blow this one. While it required a measurement, his double takeout on the ninth scored two and made it 6-3 and a matter of running Murdoch out of rocks in the final end.

"Ah, I had a chance early to get the boys in front and I didn't do it," said Murdoch.

"It was a bit disappointing the way we played, actually."

While Ben Hebert was out-curled 95%-85% at lead, both Kennedy and Morris had significant margins against their opponents, both shooting 95% and Martin out-curled Murdoch 89% to 85%.

OFF TO EDMONTON

Martin not only finally won a world championship, he secured the first men's spot through to the Edmonton 2009 Olympic Trials, joining women's world champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg.

Martin proceeds directly from here to St. John's, N.L., for the Tylenol Player's Championship where Glenn Howard will be attempting to gain a victory which would allow him to join Martin free and clear through to the Edmonton 2009 Olympic Trials.

That would allow Howard to avoid the 12-team scramble in Prince George to qualify the final four teams of the eight team tournament in men's and women's.

By winning the Brier and Worlds last year, Howard has two of the three designated event wins. Edmonton's Ferbey and Kevin Koe both have one. Only four events, the Canada Cup, Brier, Worlds and Player's Championship on next year's schedule remain to earn direct-to-Edmonton Roar of The Rings berths.


Photos