2016-17 season preview

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Team Mouat photobombed by Viktor Kjall in Kinross (photo: facebook.com/britishcurling/posts/1620064414990525)

So long, Rio, and on to Pyeongchang.

Yes, we have another one-and-a-half seasons of curling to enjoy first, but the 2018 Winter Olympics are certainly on everyone’s radar, with the added bonus of mixed doubles for the first time.

What Rio 2016 has done is inspire athletes – of all sports, and all levels – as only the Olympics can.

And Team GB’s unprecedented success can only encourage our curlers to work hard towards emulating this summer’s medal heroes – and perhaps becoming role models to grassroots players themselves.

Canadian powerhouse Team Homan spent the last week in the guise of great role models, inspiring the next generation through their first #HomanJrs camp.

 

Closer to home, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club held its own Summer Camp in Stirling, attracting 48 junior curlers.

British Curling, meanwhile, held a training camp in Kinross for elite performance teams, producing a series of action/interview videos to demonstrate some of what went on as the rinks gear up for the season ahead.

While many of those teams have retained their 2015-16 line-ups, others have made changes – some minor, others in the ‘overhaul’ category.

Scottish women’s champions for the last two seasons, Team Muirhead, have brought in Lauren Gray (their alternate at the Sochi Olympics) at lead in place of Sarah Reid – and Kelly Schafer (2010 Olympian) will cover for Anna Sloan while she recovers from injury.

Four-time Brier and Worlds winner Glenn Howard has been brought on board as tactical coach for the Muirhead rink too.

Team Gray, their skip having moved on, have split up – Jennifer Dodds and Vicky Wright joining a new-look Team Fleming.

There are line-up changes across the Scottish women’s game in fact, plus the addition of Hazel Smith’s rink – which includes Sarah Reid and Claire Hamilton, who’s returned to the game after a post-Sochi break.

 

As for the men, Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith are unchanged from last season. Given that Smith qualified for Europeans, Brewster for Worlds and Murdoch collected titles in Europe and Asia, that is no great surprise.

Teams Bryce, Hardie, Mouat and Whyte have shuffled their packs, however. One of the most notable switches is that of Robin Brydone – having skipped his own team in 2015-16, he moves onto Team Bryce at third.

Find a list of Scottish team line-ups and social media here.

The summer has not been quiet, not with a raft of team changes across the global game, a new concussion policy for the sport in Canada (‘the Gushue Rule’) and a Sweeping Summit designed to tackle #broomgate that said rather more about equipment than technique.

But it’s still exciting to have the real thing back after the break.

The first event of the new season for Scottish teams begins tomorrow – the Baden Masters in Switzerland, part of the Curling Champions Tour.

Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith represent Scotland at the tournament, facing the rinks of Peter De Cruz, Niklas Edin, Rasmus Stjerne, Thomas Ulsrud and more – there are 20 teams in total, playing round robin matches then knockouts.

The first competition of 2016-17 held in Scotland is the Braehead Junior International (September 2-4), followed by a dozen events throughout next month – see the dates for them all here.

This is of course a season with a major international tournament held in Scotland – the European Curling Championships in Braehead in November – so it’s an important time for the sport and its players to curl well, and hopefully draw some new players in.

Once again, you can follow news and events from the upcoming season on this blog, plus its Facebook and Twitter pages.

So good luck to all teams – especially the Scottish ones! – for the season ahead, and good curling!

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