Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat rule the roost in Scottish mixed doubles curling once again, retaining their national title and securing their fourth in all.
They came out on top after a final with Judith and Lee McCleary where they stole their way to victory in Braehead.
Across the Atlantic, Teams Muirhead and Murdoch took part in the GSOC National, but unfortunately neither managed to make the playoffs.
Eight pairs took part in the Scottish Curling Mixed Doubles Championship, battling it out for the national title and a spot at the next World Mixed Doubles Championship in Canada.
Sophie Jackson and Ross Whyte had a bumpy start to the competition, beaten 8-1 by Judith and Lee McCleary, but from there they reeled off six straight wins, including defeating reigning champions Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat 7-6 after an extra end.
Joining Jackson/Whyte at the top of the round robin standings on W6 L1 were Aitken/Mouat and McCleary/McCleary, the former winning their head-to-head clash 6-5, also after an extra end.
Aitken/Mouat’s draw shot saw them placed top, so in the semi-finals they would face the winner of the tiebreaker between Karina Aitken/David Aitken and Sarah Reid/Ross Paterson, who both finished the round robin on W3 L4 records.
Aitken/Aitken won the tiebreaker 10-7 but were no match for Aitken/Mouat in their family affair semi-final (Gina’s mother Morna standing in for the unwell Karina), the holders scoring three in end one and stealing twos in ends two and three for a rapid 7-0 lead.
There was a four for Aitken/Aitken in end four, but Aitken/Mouat hit back with a four of their own in the fifth, and a further steal of one wrapped up the game 12-4.
In the other last four match, McCleary/McCleary also got off to a fast start, scoring two in the first end before stealing one in end two and two in end three.
Jackson/Whyte scored two in end four but a four for the McClearys in end five meant that, despite two in end six and one in the seventh for the younger pair, it was they who won out 9-5.
And so the final pitted Scotland’s most established mixed doubles pairings against one another, being regulars on the Curling Champions Tour mixed doubles circuit.
McCleary/McCleary forced Aitken/Mouat to one in the first end, but from there the latter rode the steal train to victory.
After a stolen single in end two, Aitken/Mouat added a further two to their tally when Lee McCleary’s last came up light – and another couple of fine draws claimed another steal of one for 5-0 at halfway.
McCleary/McCleary missed a difficult double takeout opportunity in end five, giving up another steal of one, before more well-placed stones from Aitken/Mouat drew further steals in ends six and seven, handshakes offered at 8-0.
Gina Aitken told British Curling: “We got stronger towards the end of the week, we have played a lot of mixed doubles this year leading up to this national title, so whereas other teams are having to shake off the dust and get into mixed doubles format, we were just ready for it.
“Now this is an Olympic discipline it is interesting to see the level of interest increasing and curlers taking this more seriously as there is more at stake.
“We are really excited that we have qualified to represent Scotland again at the world championships in Canada next April. Playing in Canada is just great.
“Our main goal is to qualify GB for the Olympics and if we peak at the right time hopefully we can bring back a medal.”
Aitken and Mouat will fly the Scottish flag in Lethbridge, Canada, at next year’s World Mixed Curling Championships, on April 22-29.
Joining them there will be Anna and Ben Fowler, the siblings once again qualifying to represent England on the international stage.
The latest Grand Slam of Curling event, the National, took place in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and involved two Scottish rinks.
Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) gave up twos in ends two and five as they lost their opening pool stage match 6-1 to Team De Cruz of Switzerland.
Further losses to Teams Epping (5-3), Morris (7-6, losing a two in end eight) and Koe (6-4) saw them exit the competition without scoring a victory.
Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) fared little better, beginning with defeat against Team Sidorova of Russia, losing 6-5 having given up three in end four.
The Scots hit back in style, scoring three in end three and two in end four as they overcame Team Rocque 8-3, but losses against Teams Einarson (5-3) and Tirinzoni (6-3) sealed their fate.
The men’s semi-finals saw Team Carruthers overwhelm Team Edin 7-0 and Team Jacobs defeat Team Gushue (their skip Brad back to full fitness) 5-3.
The final then ended in triumph for Jacobs in their hometown, stealing singles in ends six and eight to beat Carruthers 4-2.
In the last four of the women’s section, Einarson won out 9-6 against Team Feltscher, while Tirinzoni edged McCarville 6-5.
And Einarson made it a Canadian double (non-Canadian teams have been doing so well at Grand Slams this season that the fact is noteworthy!) with an 5-3 victory over Tirinzoni in the final, stealing one in end five and scoring two in the seventh for their first career Slam title.
Finally, the Skill Awards Challenge took place in Perth, with 16 teams made up of young curlers who have all achieved an RCCC Skill Award playing four-end matches.
Team Stranraer (Niall Ryder, Harry Glasgow, Finlay Alldred, Rory Dodds) won the high road final 3-2 against Perth YC 1 – see all linescores here.