There was Scottish success in two different curling disciplines this weekend, as Team Muirhead triumphed on home turf in the Perth Ladies International and Gina Aitken/Bruce Mouat won the Latvian Mixed Doubles Curling Cup II.
Muirhead’s victory was all the more special given their efforts in kick-starting the event (which gained greater exposure through live coverage on BBC Alba), and that they achieved it without Anna Sloan, who picked up an injury on the eve of the tournament.
Then there is the small matter of the start of the World Men’s Curling Championship, where Scotland are represented by Team Brewster…
It’s Basel where we start – Scotland (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan, Scott Andrews (alternate)) began World Men’s like a house on fire but at the time of writing they sit W2 L2.
They scored twos in ends two and five, stole three in end six and finished with a two in end nine to beat Korea 9-3, before overcoming Norway with two in end three and steals of one in ends seven and eight for a 6-3 win.
But they then lost 9-6 to Russia (four in end four and three in end six proving fatal) and, despite a four in end seven, gave up a steal of one in end 10 to lose 6-5 to Japan.
It’s a rut they need to get out of, and the fightback starts against Canada (!) at 1pm today – a game you can watch live here.
The City of Perth Ladies International attracted teams from Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as seven Scottish rinks.
That reflected the pulling power of Team Muirhead internationally, as did the impressive list of event/team sponsors and the live coverage by BBC Alba and the Curling Champions Tour on YouTube.
The competition started with four sections of five teams, with Section A won by Team Hasselborg of Sweden ahead of Team Sweeting of Canada.
Sweeting only narrowly edged Team Fowler of England to second spot, winning their head-to-head 6-5 after an extra end.
Muirhead – without third Anna Sloan due to a knee injury, so Chelsea Duncan and then Mairi Milne subbed in, pushing Sarah Reid to second and Vicki Adams to third – headed Section B with four wins from four, ahead of Team Ogasawara of Japan.
Team Tirinzoni of Switzerland won all their round robin games to top Section C; Teams Barbezat (Switzerland) and Fleury (Canada) both finished W2 L2 – Fleury winning the tiebreaker 7-5.
And Section D saw Team Pätz of Switzerland qualify for the quarter-finals with four wins, followed by Team Driendl of Germany.
Come the last eight, Muirhead and Tirinzoni continued their impressive runs by beating Fleury (7-4) and Sweeting (4-3) respectively, but the other two group winners went out – Hasselborg lost 6-4 to Driendl and Pätz were shocked 7-1 by Ogasawara.
In the semi-finals, Muirhead scored threes in ends one and three, then stole two in end seven, to beat Driendl 9-5, while Tirinzoni overcame Ogasawara 10-2 (four in end one, three in end two and two in end four).
The final was a predictably tight affair, both teams missing opportunities for twos at various points. But Muirhead controlled the scoring in the even ends, took a two in end four and sealed the one needed to win the game 5-4 and the title.
For more photos from the event, check out Brydone Images’ gallery here.
There was also a title win for Scots abroad – after Judith and Lee McCleary came third in the Latvian Mixed Doubles Curling Cup I last weekend, Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat took part in Latvian Mixed Doubles Curling Cup II.
Aitken/Mouat beat Huembelin/Gubler of Switzerland 12-3, then Trubačs-Boginska/Purmalis of Latvia 11-1.
In round three, they lost 7-6 to Bryzgalova/Krushelnitskiy of Russia, but bounced back in rounds four and five to defeat Wang/Ba (China) 8-6 and Yu/Xu (also China) 7-3.
That set up a rematch with the Russian pair who’d beaten them previously, but this time Aitken/Mouat scored two in end two, then stole one in end three, four in end four and another one in end five to win 8-2!
The win sets Aitken and Mouat up nicely for the World Mixed Doubles later this month.
One of the teams Aitken/Mouat will face at Worlds in Karlstad will be Canada – represented by Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant.
Thirty-six teams battled it out in the Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship in Saskatoon this weekend, with Peterman/Gallant overcoming Laura Crocker/Geoff Walker 12-8 in the final.
Finally, several further events took place in Scotland over the weekend.
The National Virtual Club Challenge (involving RCCC ‘virtual clubs’ whose members are in their first two years of curling) took place in Braehead, involving 28 teams.
The final was contested by Stirling 1 and Forfar – Stirling (Norman Ainslie, John Glass, Iona Paterson, Bob Sherrard, Laura Lee) winning 5-0 – while third spot went to Dundee 2, who won 4-3 against Braehead 2 after an extra end.
And the Scottish Student Sport Curling Championships were held in Stranraer, with 16 teams taking part from Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot Watt, Stirling and Strathclyde universities, plus a rink of graduates.
The high road final was won by Strathclyde 2 (Stuart Taylor, Robin McCall, Gavin Barr, Jayne Stirling), 8-1 against the graduates, while Edinburgh 5 (Andrew Johnston, Eilidh Yeats, Szymon Sacher, Rosie Duckworth) beat Glasgow 2 in the low road final, 5-4.