THE Mike McEwen team from Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club defended their title and earned the top prize of $18,000 at the 2011 Canad Inns Prairie Classic on Monday in Portage la Prairie.
The McEwen team of third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld defeated the Kevin Koe team from Edmonton 5-3 in the championship final at the Portage Curling Club.
McEwen scored two in the fifth to lead 4-1 before Koe put up back-to-back singles in the sixth and seventh ends to make it close. McEwen sealed the win with a single in the eighth end.
The Koe team earned $10,000 as a finalist in the bonspiel, which carried a prize purse of $58,000.
At the 2011 Manitoba Lotteries Women's Curling Classic at the Fort Rouge Curling Club, Renee Sonnenberg and her team from Grande Prairie, Alta., defeated the Heather Nedohin team from Edmonton 8-7 in the championship final.
It was the first Capital One Grand Slam of Curling title for the Sonnenberg team of third Lawnie MacDonald, second Kristie Moore and lead Rona Pasika, which earned $15,000 as the winner. The Nedohin team of third Beth Iskiw, second Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters received $10,000.
Sonnenberg led 5-0 after three ends before Nedohin put up three in the seventh end to tie the game at 7-7. Sonnenberg scored a last-rock single in the eighth end for the win.
In the men's semifinals, McEwen scored three in the seventh end to beat Sean Grassie 6-2. Koe scored a last-rock single to beat Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan 6-5 in the other semifinal.
The Grassie and Laycock teams each earned $6,000 as semifinalists.
McEwen came into the event sitting second on the World Curling Tour's money list behind Kevin Martin of Edmonton.
Last year, McEwen ($127,490) edged Martin ($125,500) as the top money winner. McEwen beat Martin in September in the final of the Point Optical Charity Curling Classic. Two weeks ago at the West Coast Curling Classic in New Westminster, B.C., Martin beat McEwen 5-2 in the final.
McEwen has said the team's major focus this year is to earn a berth in the Brier in Saskatoon in March.
The McEwen team has been knocking on the door the past two years, but has lost two straight Manitoba finals to the Jeff Stoughton team, which last year went on to become the men's world champion.
At Fort Rouge in the women's semifinals on Monday afternoon, hometown favourite Cathy Overton-Clapham and her Fort Rouge team of third Jenna Loder, second Ashley Howard and lead Breanne Meakin, lost 5-4 in an extra end to Sonnenberg. The Overton-Clapham team earlier this month won the first women's Grand Slam event of the season when they captured the Curlers Corner Autumn Gold Curling Classic in Calgary.
The Cheryl Bernard team from Calgary, 2010 Olympic silver medallists, lost 6-2 in the other semifinal to Nedohin. Overton-Clapham and Bernard each received $6,000 as semifinalists.
The Jennifer Jones team from St. Vital lost in the quarter-final round, dropping a 4-3 decision to Bernard after having been undefeated to that point.
The other teams who lost in the quarter-finals included Darcy Robertson of Fort Rouge, Stefanie Lawton of Saskatchewan and Kelly Scott of B.C. The teams bowing out after the quarter-finals each won $3,700.