February 24, 2006
Golden Gushue
Canada wins curling gold
PAT GRIER -- Sun Media
Canada's Brad Gushue embraces his teammates after defeating Finland 10-4 to win the gold medal at the Pinerolo Palaghiaccio at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games Friday, Feb. 24, 2006 in Pinerolo, Italy.(CP PHOTO/Andrew Vaughan)

TURIN, Italy - The Rock is shining bright today after Brad Gushue's Newfoundland rink won gold in men's curling at the Pinerolo Palaghiccio arena.

A six-stone sixth end powered Canada to an easy 10-4 victory over skip Markku Uusipaavalniemi and his Finland team, making St. John's Gushue and Mark Nicholls and Harbour Grace's Jamie Korab the first Newfoundlanders to win gold at an Olympic Games. Alternate Mike Adam is from Wabush.

Back home in their native province, school children were allowed to stay home and offices closed early so people could watch the game on TV.

But there will be as much joy across the country for Russ Howard, the 50-year-old second from Midland, Ont., who now makes his home in Moncton, N.B. Howard is a two-time Brier and world champion, but this was his first Olympic Games.

"No. 1 one by a mile, baby," Howard told the CBC when asked where this ranked. "What a thrill."

After the game, Howard the strategist and Gushue the shooter embraced like father and son.

It's the first gold medal for Canadian men in curling after silvers in both Nagano in 1998 and Salt Lake City in 2002, and matches the late Sandra Schmirler's rink, which won gold in Nagano.

Shannon Kleibrink's rink won the bronze on the women's side yesterday.

The medal gives Canada six gold at these Olympics and runs the country's total to 20, three better than its previous high of 17 in 2002.

Nicholls hot hand paved the way to the win. Leading 4-3 in the sixth, Nicholls's two spectacular takeouts set up the pivotal end. When Uusipaavalniemi hit a guard in front with his final shot, Gushue had a chance to score seven, but his final stone sailed through the house.

"My heart was beating too much in that end to make that shot," a smiling Gushue told TV.

Not that it mattered. Nicholls had another double takeout in the eighth to limit the Finns to just one, after which the game was conceded.

The 26-year-old curled a remarkable 98 per cent today, on the heels of his 94 per cent performance in the 11-5 semi-final win over the U.S. on Wednesday.

This after he admittedly struggled during the preliminary round.

"It's about time I made a shot," Nicholls said.

Earlier today, the U.S. beat Great Britain 8-6 to win the bronze.