Weekend round-up: Ross Whyte wins silver at Youth Olympics

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Ross Whyte with mixed doubles partner Han Yu (photo: WCF/Richard Gray)

Ross Whyte won silver representing Great Britain in the mixed doubles curling at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games.

That success followed GB’s squad impressing in the group stage of the mixed team event, before a quarter-final loss to Russia.

But Whyte ensured that the GB curlers would not leave Norway without a medal, as he and partner Han Yu of China finished mixed doubles runners-up.

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GB’s mixed team (Ross Whyte, Amy Bryce, Callum Kinnear, Mili Smith – coached by Cate Brewster) began their campaign with a 9-2 win over Korea, scoring two in end one and stealing two in end five and three in end six.

They then suffered a 4-2 loss to Canada, a steal of two in end eight winning it for the Canadians, but bounced back with a 21-0 victory against rookies Brazil, notably scoring five in end one and six in end five.

From there, they beat hosts Norway 9-3 (scoring fours in ends two and four), Sweden 8-2 (with four in end one and two in end three), Estonia 8-2 (two in end one, three in end four and two in end six) and the Czech Republic 9-3 (fours in ends three and four).

That meant second spot in Group B and a quarter-final against Russia.

But the day belonged to Russia, who scored three in end two in end six to lead 6-3. Although GB scored two in end seven to close the gap to a point, three for Russia in end eight meant a final score of 9-5 and GB’s elimination.

Canada won mixed team gold, beating the USA 10-4 in the final, while Switzerland won bronze.

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The mixed doubles competition saw participants paired with competitors from other nations of the opposite gender, going against each other in a straight knock-out format.

There were early exits for GB’s Amy Bryce (paired with Martin Blahovec (Czech Republic), beaten 12-1 by Honoka Sasaki/Tyler Tardi) and Mili Smith (paired with Hong Jun Yeong (Korea), defeated 8-2 by Holly Thompson/Sterling Middleton).

But Callum Kinnear and team-mate Stefania Constantini (Italy) won their first match 9-1 against Karlee Burgess and Eiko-Siim Peips (stealing twos in ends three, five and seven), and then beat Nadezhda Karelina and Kosuke Aita 7-3 (stealing ones in ends three, six and eight, and two in end seven).

They went out at the quarter-final stage, losing 10-9 to Zhao Ruiyi and Andreas Haarstad, scoring four in end seven to tie it up at 9-9 before Zhao and Haarstad scored the winning point in the eighth.

Ross Whyte and Chinese partner Han Yu put together a run beginning with a 9-5 victory over Mary Fay and Elian Sabra Rocha (scoring four in end one, three in end three and two in end six), then saw off Oh Su Yun and Tunc Esenboga 8-6 (two in end one and four in end six) and won their quarter-final 6-5 against Selina Witschonke and Jarl Gustsin, with twos in ends two and four.

In the semi-finals, they were victorious against Sasaki and Tardi (who had knocked out Bryce’s pairing), scoring three in end five and stealing ones in ends three and six to win 6-3.

That guaranteed them a silver medal, and it was silver they won – as Yako Matsuzawa (Japan) and Philipp Hoseli (Switzerland) proved too strong in the final, winning 11-5 with four in end four and five in end six.

Whyte said: “Getting a medal for GB is just amazing. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do and achieving it is brilliant.

“Yu [Han] has been amazing, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. She played really well throughout the whole competition.

“Having had this whole experience will help my curling hugely.”

Zhao and Haarstad, of China and Norway respectively, won bronze.

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Back in the UK, the English Championships took place this weekend in Dumfries.

There was no competition for women, with the team that represented England at the 2015 Europeans in Esbjerg – Anna Fowler, Hetty Garnier, Angharad Ward, Lauren Pearce, Naomi Robinson – being the sole entry to represent the country at Braehead 2016.

But the men’s championship was contested by seven teams, with Teams Dunn and MacDougall making the final.

MacDougall (Alan MacDougall, Andrew Reed, Andrew Woolston, Tom Jaeggi, Ben Fowler) won that match 8-0 to retain their title and book passage to Braehead in November.

***

The Swiss national championships also concluded this weekend. In the men’s competition, Teams De Cruz and Michel won through to the 1v2 match after a double round robin.

Michel won that game 5-3, and although De Cruz beat Team Attinger 8-7 after an extra end in the semi-final, the final again saw victory for Michel, 7-4 this time, meaning it is them who will represent the hosts at the World Men’s Championship in Basel.

As for the women, Teams Feltscher and Tirinzoni qualified for the 1v2 game, Feltscher winning 9-5.

Tirinzoni secured a chance of gaining revenge with a 5-4 semi-final victory over 2015 Worlds champions Team Pätz… but Feltscher beat them again in the final, 8-6 with two in end 10, and they have the opportunity to regain the title they won in 2014, as well as making it three World Women’s triumphs in a row for Switzerland.

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Finally, Canada’s women’s championship, the Scotties, has begun in Grande Prairie, Alberta – notably without Teams Homan and Sweeting.

But things are not going swimmingly for the remaining member of Canadian women’s curling’s ‘big three’, Team Jones, who as defending champions have lost two of their first three games – 12-5 to Team Carey (Alberta) and 8-7 to Team McCarville (Northern Ontario).

Carey and McCarville sit top of the standings on three wins and no losses… but there’s a long, long way still to go in this one.

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