October 2016 curling preview

mcewen_team1280
Team McEwen, last season’s GSOC Masters men’s winners (photo: Grand Slam of Curling/Anil Mungal (anilmungal.com))

The 2016-17 season has already seen success for the likes of Team Bryce, Team Hardie, Team Jackson and Team Smith in Scotland and overseas, while last weekend Teams Fleming and Murdoch reached the final of Curling Champions Tour events.

October sees plenty more events, including the first Grand Slam of the season and those all-important European Championship Playdowns…

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Dumfries Open (Scottish Curling Tour)
Dates: October 7-9
Number of teams: 18
Prize money: £2,050
Last year’s winners: Team Hardie (Scotland)
Website: http://scottishcurlingtour.blogspot.co.uk

Team Hardie look to defend their title, and indeed repeat last season’s exploits, where they won both the Braehead Open and Dumfries Open to kick off their curling year in style. Other Scottish teams vying for the title include Team Mouat and Team Taylor, while there is a strong women’s representation through Teams G Aitken and Smith, as well as mixed teams and challengers from England and Wales.

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Livechannel Cup (European Junior Curling Tour)
Dates: October 7-9
Number of teams: 19 (14 boys’; 5 girls’)
Scottish team: Team Bryce
Prize money: SEK 40,000
Last year’s winners: Team Eremin (Russia); Team Panthera (Sweden)
Website: https://www.facebook.com/EJCTLivechannelCup

Team Bryce fly the flag for Scotland at this European Junior Curling Tour event in Härnösand, Sweden. They’ve had an impressive start to their season, what with wins at the EJCT Braehead International and two Asham U21 Slams. Should Bryce emerge from their pool, the likes of Team Lottenbach (Switzerland) and Team Ramsfjell (Norway) pose threats.

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Scottish Curling Senior Mixed Championship (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Dates: October 7-9
Number of teams: 15
Last year’s winners: Team Dodds
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/scottish-curling-senior-mixed-championship-4

The first RCCC national competition of the season returns to Stranraer, as 15 teams over over-50s (two males and two females in alternate positions) challenge for the honours in a social atmosphere. Trevor Dodds’ rink return to defend their title, as do last season’s runners-up Team Horton, and Team Craig, the winners the year before that.

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Women’s Masters Basel (Curling Champions Tour)
Dates: October 7-9
Number of teams: 24
Scottish teams: Team Fleming, Team Muirhead
Prize money: CHF 32,000
Last year’s winners: Team Sidorova (Russia)
Website: http://www.womensmasters.ch/english/home

Last season Team Fleming made the quarter-finals at this event in Switzerland, Team Muirhead the semis. Fleming performed superbly last weekend in making the Stockholm Ladies Cup final, while Muirhead made two finals out in Canada in the weeks before that. In this triple knockout competition, Fleming start against Team Schöpp, Muirhead versus Team Maillard. Other rinks to watch out for include those of Silvana Tirinzoni and the on-song Anna Hasselborg. Selected games will be livestreamed here.

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Forfar (U14 Slam) (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Date: October 9
Number of teams: 16
Last year’s winners: Team Bryce
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/asham-under-14-slam-fofar

Reigning champions Angus Bryce’s rink do not return, so there will be a new winner for the one-day U14 Slam. Teams, divided into four sections, will play four-end matches in their groups, before high and low road deciders.

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European Playdowns (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Dates: October 12-16
Number of teams: 5
Last year’s winners: Team Smith; Team Muirhead
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/european-playdowns-4

Who will represent Scotland as the nation hosts the European Curling Championships in Braehead in November? In Perth, Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith will challenge for the men’s spot, while Teams Fleming and Muirhead contest the women’s. Fleming will be looking to pull off an upset over their best-of-five-match series, while the men’s teams play each other twice before a best-of-three final – Smith have started the season very well, Murdoch reached the Swiss Cup Basel final last weekend, and Brewster have pedigree aplenty.

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Service Experts Mixed Doubles Classic (Curling Champions Tour)
Dates: October 14-16
Number of teams: 17
Prize money: $12,500
Last year’s winners: N/A
Website: http://sherwoodparkcurling.com/mixed-doubles-classic

Mixed doubles is catching on like wildfire and here we have another event, in Alberta, Canada. No Scottish teams are taking part in this one, but there are rinks representing China, Hungary, Russia and the USA, as well as 10 Canadian teams including Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant, 2016 Canadian Mixed Doubles champions.

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World Mixed Curling Championship 2016 (World Curling Federation)
Dates: October 14-22
Number of teams: 37
Scottish team: Team Bryce
Last year’s winners: Team Walstad (Norway)
Website: http://www.worldcurling.org/wmxcc2016

Kazan, Russia, hosts the second installment of the World Mixed Curling Championship, the first won by Norway last season. Scotland is represented by Cameron Bryce (skip), Katie Murray (a one-event detour back into the sport after stepping back this season), Bobby Lammie and Sophie Jackson. They face Belarus, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and Romania in Group A. England, Wales and Ireland also have teams involved.

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Austrian Mixed Doubles Cup (Curling Champions Tour)
Dates: October 20-23
Number of teams: 12
Scottish team
: Team Aitken/Mouat
Prize money: €2,800
Last year’s winners: Team Toth/Wunderer (Austria)
Website: http://www.curling-austria.at/events.html

Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat made the quarter-finals at the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles last weekend, and they will be back in action in the new Olympic format in Kitzbühel, Austria. The likes of Oona Kauste/Tomi Rantamäki (Finland) and Ildikó Szekeres/György Nagy (Hungary) will provide stiff competition.

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Curling Masters Champery (Curling Champions Tour)
Dates: October 20-23
Number of teams: 24
Prize money: CHF 40,000
Last year’s winners: Team Grattan (Canada)
Website: http://www.curling-masters.ch

Teams Brewster and Smith participated in this event last season, but no Scots are taking part this time around (it is hot on the heels of the European Playdowns). There’s no lack of quality in the field in Switzerland though, with Teams De Cruz, Edin, Kauste and Ulsrud among the 24 involved.

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Canad Inns Women’s Classic (World Curling Tour)
Dates: October 21-24
Number of teams: 32
Scottish team: Team Smith
Prize money: $60,000
Last year’s winners: Team Kim (Korea)
Website: http://www.worldcurl.com/events.php?task=Event&eventid=4239

Hazel Smith’s new rink (her team-mates being Sarah Reid, Laura Ritchie and Claire Hamilton) face a quality field in this cashspiel in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Teams Einarson, Fleury, Homan, Jones and McCarville are some of the Canadian sides involved in the triple knockout competition, while Teams Hasselborg, Kim (reigning champions), Tirinzoni and Wang lead the international challenge.

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Stranraer (U14 Slam) (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Date: October 23
Number of teams: 16
Last year’s winners: Team Craik
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/asham-under-14-slam-stranraer

The next stage of the one-day U14 Slam events, following the one in Forfar earlier in the month. Last season’s winners Team Craik have aged out, so once again the contest is well and truly up for grabs among Scotland’s very young curlers.

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Masters (Grand Slam of Curling)
Dates: October 25-30
Number of teams: 30 (15 men’s; 15 women’s)
Scottish teams: Team Murdoch, Team Smith; Team Muirhead
Prize money: $100,000; $100,000
Last year’s winners: Team McEwen (Canada); Team Homan (Canada)
Website: http://www.thegrandslamofcurling.com/curling/masters

The season’s opening Grand Slam takes place in Okotoks in Alberta, with three Scottish teams part of a world-class field based on the Order of Merit rankings up to 2016-17 week four. In the opening round-robin stage, Teams Murdoch and Smith (making their top Slam debut after competing in Tour Challenge tier 2 last season) face each other first up, before playing Teams Carruthers, McEwen and Morris. Team Muirhead are up against Teams Kim, Pätz, Rocque and – last but certainly not least! – Homan.

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Riga International Curling Challenge (Curling Champions Tour)
Dates: October 28-30
Number of teams: 12
Prize money: €3,000
Last year’s winners: Team Demkina (Russia)
Website: http://kerlingahalle.lv/ricc

This women’s competition held in Riga, Latvia, returns for a second year. No Scots on board, but Teams Barbezat (Switzerland), Driendl (Germany), Kauste (Finland), Lundman (Sweden) and Maillard (Switzerland) are Curling Champions Tour regulars.

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Scottish Province Championship (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Dates: October 28-30
Number of teams: 30
Last year’s winners: Loch Leven
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/scottish-province-championship-4

Thirty teams, covering provinces across Scotland, are divided into six groups for this competition at Greenacres. Those sections then lead to quarter-finals, high and low road semi-finals and high and low road finals. The club teams competing have all won their provincial qualifier to get here.

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Lanarkshire (U17 Slam) (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Dates: October 29-30
Number of teams: 24
Last year’s winners: Team Kinnear
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/asham-under-17-slam-lanarkshire-3

As with the Province Championship, this competition features sections and knockouts heading towards high and low road finals – matches being up to six ends. Last year’s high road winners and runners-up, Teams Kinnear and Craik, are back – while Lisa Davie’s women’s rink, fourth at the Kinross Junior Classic U21 Slam last weekend, are also contenders.

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