Martin wins marquee curling match

By BOB MACKIN, QMI AGENCY

VANCOUVER - Greatness begets greatness.

The marquee match of the 2010 Winter Olympics’ men’s curling round robin Saturday between the Kevin Martin-skipped Team Canada and the Scottish-based Great Britain side of David Murdoch was big enough to attract Wayne Gretzky to the Vancouver Olympic Centre.

The biggest rivalry in the curling world was rekindled before a crowd of 5,075 that witnessed Martin score a pair in the 10th end for the 7-6 win.

"They played awful well for the first five ends,” said Martin, now 6-0. “The last five we came on real strong."

Canada recorded two in the second end and Great Britain responded with three in the third. Martin tied the match on a well-executed last rock of the fourth and raised a third on his last of the fifth. Murdoch drew one to regain the lead.

Martin was beaming and the Canadian fans jubilant with his nifty double takeout for the 5-4 lead in the sixth, but the see-saw battle continued in the seventh when Murdoch tied and regained the edge yet again to enter the ninth.

A group of shirtless fans sparked a spontaneous singing of O Canada that helped rally Martin to tie and win in the 10th. The outpouring of patriotism even put a smile on the gap-toothed Murdoch as he paused for a drink.

"It was hilarious,” Murdoch said. “It's not something you'll ever see ever again.”

Martin beat Murdoch two of three times during the 2008 world championship in Grand Forks, N.D., but Murdoch found revenge with a trio of wins at the 2009 worlds in Moncton, N.B. He extended the winning streak to four last month at the Casino Rama Skins Game.

“We made a mistake in the seventh when we had a chance for two, but then we stole one in the eighth,” said Murdoch, who is now 3-3.

Martin, 43, was the Salt Lake 2002 silver medalist. Lockerbie, Scotland’s Murdoch, 31, also won the 2006 world championship and came fourth at the Turin Olympics in 2006.

Canada wraps the round-robin with matches Sunday against Switzerland, Monday against the United States and Tuesday against China.

In other action at the evening session, France upset Sweden 7-4 and Switzerland beat China 9-5.

On the women’s side, Canada’s Cheryl Bernard-skipped rink resumes play Sunday against the U.S. and China.

POLL