The championship match-ups are set at the Masters Grand Slam of Curling in Abbotsford.
On the men’s side, it’s another chapter in an old-school Canadian rivalry, as Kevin Martin and Glenn Howard will lock horns.
The women’s final is more of a new-school grudge match, but a grudge match nonetheless, as Scotland’s Eve Muirhead and Ontario’s Rachel Homan meet for all the marbles. Muirhead knocked off Homan in the semifinals of the world championship in Riga, Latvia earlier this year en route to the gold medal, while Homan settled for the bronze.
The action gets underway at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, with the Martin-Howard tilt. The Muirhead-Homan match goes at 3 p.m.
When you’ve been in curling’s top tier for as long as Howard and Martin have, you’re bound to cross paths once in a while. Their most recent high-profile clash was at the Canadian Olympic curling trials in 2009, where Martin beat Howard in the final and went on to win gold at the Vancouver Games.
Howard (pictured right) has been lights-out this week, going 4-0 in the round robin and then beating reigning world champ Niklas Edin of Sweden (8-4) and Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton (4-3 in an extra end) en route to the final.
Martin lost to China’s Rui Liu during the opening draw of the tourney on Tuesday evening, but hasn’t lost since. After beating Edmonton rival Kevin Koe 6-3 in the quarters, he exacted a measure of revenge vs. Liu, winning 4-2 in the semis.
“They played really well again today – they had us in some trouble most ends,” Martin said afterward, lauding the coaching job that Marcel Rocque (a former teammate of Martin’s third Dave Nedohin on the much-decorated Randy Ferbey rink) is doing with Liu.
“They’re a team that, if they get to the Olympics, they’ll be not only looking good, but going after a medal. That’s how well they’re playing.”
Both women’s finalists had to weather tiebreakers after relatively slow starts to the tourney – they each went 2-2 in the round robin.
Homan beat Manitoba’s Chelsea Carey her tiebreaker, then knocked off Edmonton’s Heather Nedohin in the quarters (6-3) and Switzerland’s Mirjam Ott (6-3) in the semis.
Muirhead’s road to the final included a 7-1 tiebreaker win over Sherry Middaugh of Ontario, a 5-4 quarter-final victory over the previously undefeated Swedish rink skipped by Margaretha Sigfridsson, and a 7-3 triumph over Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones in the semis.
“You have no lives left, do you, when you get to the tiebreaks, and it’s the same here (in the playoffs),” Muirhead reasoned. “We’ve really stepped up in these playoff stages – we’ve played great in the quarter-final and semifinal, and we’ve got one more to go.”