Martin outlasts youth at Swiss Chalet National

ADRIANN KENNEDY, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 2:47 PM ET

Toronto - Kevin Martin and his Alberta rink put together some Christmas magic for fans at the final of the 2010 Swiss Chalet National in Vernon, British Columbia, Sunday afternoon.

Martin and Co. stole a point in the fifth and benefited from a last-rock miss to nab a 5-3 win over Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton. The win at the National is Martin's 16th career Grand Slam win, more than any other skip - in fact, the next man on the list - rival Glenn Howard - has led his team to just eight titles.

The event was the second on the men's Capital One Grand Slam of Curling schedule, and there was certainly no shortage of contenders in the field. While the playoff rounds were dominated by familiar names, many of the usual suspects struggled in the round robin.

Martin backed into the playoffs at 3-2, as did Howard, while defending Brier champ Kevin Koe made an early exit after finishing at 2-3.

Instead, it was two young rinks that impressed early in the weekend with perfect 5-0 records after the round robin.

Niklas Edin of Sweden made the quarterfinal round for the third consecutive Grand Slam event, dating back to last season, after entering the weekend seventh in the World Curling Tour rankings. He skipped the Swedish team to a fourth-place finish at the Vancouver Olympics, and at just 25 years old also will make an appearance at the Continental Cup on Team World.

The other undefeated rink after the final round robin draw was one of the hottest Canadian foursomes on tour - Team Mike McEwen. The Winnipeg skip won the first Grand Slam event of the year in Windsor in November, and has shown no signs of slowing. He's ranked second on the World Curling Tour money list, and first in the Canadian Team Rankings ahead of the country's historically elite teams, including Martin, Howard and Koe.

McEwen's team has already won four events this year, and heads into 2011 hoping to finally represent Manitoba at the Brier. The team has cemented its status as "ones-to-watch," and all eyes will be on McEwen to see if this will be the season that he breaks through and ends the reign of eight-time Manitoba provincial champ Stoughton.

The win in Vernon was a fitting end to a sensational 2010 for Team Martin - a year that included Grand Slam wins at the Canadian Open and Players' Championship and, most significantly, a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Vancouver. The rink missed the playoffs at The National last season, but Martin still went into the weekend a three-time champion at the event. The foursome were forced to rely on some last-end luck to top Ontario's Wayne Middaugh in the semis on Saturday, when Martin's final double take-out shot misfired, but still sat to score two and nab a 6-4 win.

Sunday's performance was not pretty - Martin took the lead in the fourth end with a deuce that required some brilliant sweeping from lead Ben Hebert and second Marc Kennedy, who worked to squeeze Martin's shot past the guard - but the team ended its year on a high note, taking home a $24,000 prize and first place in the World Curling Tour rankings.

Martin also improved his career record against Stoughton to 27-18. The National was Martin's final event of 2010, but the rink's break will be short-lived as the Olympic champions will participate on Team North America at the Continental Cup beginning Jan. 13 in St. Albert, Alberta.

The Capital One Grand Slam of Curling season resumes in the New Year, with the BDO Canadian Open from Jan. 26-30 in Oshawa, Ontario.


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