The defending world men’s curling champion skip from St. John’s made a hit-and-stick around with his final shot to give him and his temporary team of all-stars a 6-5 win over a rink skipped by John Epping in Sunday night’s final of the first-ever Everest Curling Challenge in Fredericton, N.B.
The victory earned Gushue, third Cathy Overton, second E.J. Harnden and lead Lisa Weagle the winner-take-all prize of $200,000, the richest in curling history.
The Everest Challenge was played with a unique format. Eight of the Canada’s top skips — four men and four women — brought their teams to Fredericton and took part in a huge reshuffle. Each skip had to draft a rink for the Challenge (but could not select any of his or her regular crew) and wind up with a team of two men and two women.
The eight teams then played in a single knockout event with one notable rules tweak: a team was awarded two points for a counting rock that covered the pin at the centre of the house.
The members of Gushue’s Fredericton team are world champions all.
Overton, who is curling with Chelsea Carey this season, had won five Scotties Canadian women’s title and one women’s world crown with Jennifer Jones. Harnden, who normally curls with Brad Jacobs, has — like Gushue — won both Olympic gold and a world men’s championship; while Weagle has been part of three Scotties victories and one world championship with Rachel Homan’s Ottawa rink.
Interestingly, Gushue’s new-look team knocked off rinks skipped by Homan and Jacobs en route to Sunday’s final, with Geoff Walker, who is normally Gushue’s lead, having been drafted by with Homan, and Brett Gallant, the Gushue team’s second, picked up by Jacobs.
Mark Nichols, who has been Gushue’s long-time third, played with Val Sweeting’s rink in the Challenge.
The win adds to what has already been a phenomenal calendar year for Gushue, what with his long-sought-after victory in the Brier Canadian men’s curling championship — in St. John’s no less, the world championship victory in Edmonton; and his securing a place in the 2018 Canadian Trials in December, when his team will make a bid to represent Canada at the Olympics and win gold just as he and Nichols did in 2006 in Italy.