Three of the four Scottish rinks in Paradise reached the Tour Challenge knock-out stages, but were unable to go the distance as Canadian and Swiss teams triumphed.
Teams Murdoch (men’s tier 1), Muirhead (women’s tier 1), Brewster and Smith (both men’s tier 2) travelled to Newfoundland for the first Grand Slam of Curling event of the season.
The event was organised into tier 1 (15 men’s and 15 women’s teams from the top of the world rankings) and tier 2 (15 men’s and 15 women’s teams invited based on order of merit standings or from the region) sections – with a pool stage followed by quarter finals, semi finals and finals.
Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) began their men’s tier 1 campaign with a superb 6-4 victory over reigning world champions Team Edin of Sweden. Scores of two in ends four and six proved vital for the Scottish rink, as did the 96 per cent shooting accuracy of Drummond at third.
However, that was as good as it got for the team, as they then suffered three consecutive defeats against Teams Gushue (3-7), Casey (4-7) and Carruthers (5-6) to slip out of contention for the knock-out stage.
The event was won by Team Kevin Koe, who defeated Oakville Tankard winners Team Gushue 4-3 in an extra end final victory.
In the women’s section, Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Sarah Reid) got off to a winning start by defeating the Swiss rink of Silvana Tirinzoni 5-4, thanks to a steal of one in end four and a two in end six.
But that opening victory was followed by defeat to Team Kim of Korea, the Scots going down 6-8 after conceding two in the extra end.
They were back on track in their third match, though, scoring five in end five to post a fine 7-1 win over the women’s world champions Team Pätz.
A 5-9 loss to Team Fleury in their final pool match meant they finished on a W2 L2 record and had to negotiate a tiebreaker with Olympic champions Team Jones – which they did 5-4, thanks to a steal of one in end eight.
The quarter finals saw them face Team Homan, and the in-form Canadians triumphed 7-3 to end Team Muirhead’s challenge. Reaching the last eight of a Slam event in their first competition of 2015-16, however, was a pleasing enough result.
Team Homan were eventual finalists, but were shocked by Team Tirinzoni (beaten in their opening match by Muirhead you may remember), the Swiss team stealing two in end eight to win 6-5 and claim the title.
In tier 2, both Scottish teams cruised through to the quarter finals.
Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan) were beaten 2-7 by Team Cotter in their opening match but then recorded three victories in a row – 5-3 versus Team Symonds, 7-5 over Team Stevens and 6-5 over Team Thomas – to qualify for the quarter finals.
Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) began their competition with three wins – 4-2 over Team Grattan, 9-2 against Team Rowsell and 8-1 versus Team Fanset.
Although they then lost 4-5 against Team Kean, they had already done enough to join Team Brewster in the last eight.
There Team Smith had little trouble in dispatching Team Adams by a 9-2 scoreline (notching five in end five), while Team Brewster beat Team Balsdon 7-4.
Neither could make the final, however, as Team Brewster lost 4-6 to Team Kean and Team Smith 2-9 against Team Cotter.
Cotter claimed the tier 2 title and a place in the GSOC Masters next month in Truro, Nova Scotia. The women’s tier 2 competition was won by another Canadian rink, Team Einarson.
The Scots in Newfoundland did at least finish off the week with a local tradition…