A busy weekend saw the start of the World Women’s Curling Championship, as well as events in Scotland, Europe and Canada.
Team Hardie were the standout success, winning the Aberdeen International event, while there was also bronze for Team Aitken/Mouat in their latest mixed doubles endeavour.
But first to Beijing, where Scotland women have had a rollercoaster start…
The 2017 World Women’s Curling Championship sees Scotland represented, once again, by Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer (alternate), Glenn Howard (coach)).
Two days in and, at time of writing, three games played – Scotland sit on a W2 L1 record.
They began against the USA, and after a three in end one, they were hauled back to 3-3 after four, only to answer with another three in end five.
But they then gave up five points over the next three ends, to trail 8-6, and were forced to one in the ninth.
But steals of one in end 10 and the extra end saw them snatch a 9-8 victory.
The outcome from their next match was less positive, as they were shocked by an inexperienced Italian team.
Diana Gaspari’s rink scored three in end seven and two in end nine, meaning the Scots needed three in end 10 to force an extra – an opportunity opened up but the shot was missed, so Italy won 7-6.
Scotland needed to bounce back quickly and did so, overcoming Team Sidorova of Russia, always a strong force at these championships.
Again the Scots started well with three in end one, and a steal of four in end four saw them lead 8-1.
Russia fought back, creeping up to only trail 8-5, but ones in ends eight and 10 got the job done for the Muirhead rink, who face Denmark and Sweden in Monday’s action.
The early pace-setters as of Sunday – Canada, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, all W3 Lo from the first two days.
Back in Scotland, and a Curling Champions Tour event – the Aberdeen International Curling Championship – had drawn a high quality field.
In a triple knockout format, the A-Road qualifiers were Team McEwen of Canada (defeating Team Stjerne (Denmark) 10-3 in the A-Road final) and the Scots of Team Murdoch (who overcame Team Ulsrud of Norway 7-6 to qualify).
Murdoch’s compatriots were having a tougher time of it, as it was Teams Deruelle (Canada) and Eskilsson (Sweden) who made the quarter-finals via the B-Road, meaning that Teams Brewster, Bryce, Craik, Hardie, Hutcheon, Mouat (minus their skip – more on him later), Smith and Whyte all ended up on the C-Road.
Of those, only Hardie and Whyte (thanks to a win over Ulsrud) made the C-Road finals, and while Hardie defeated Stjerne 4-3 to make the last eight, Whyte lost 10-5 to Team Schwaller of Switzerland.
Schwaller claimed another Scottish scalp on the Sunday, beating Murdoch 5-2 in their quarter-final, leaving Hardie – 7-2 winners over Deruelle – as the last Scots standing.
In the semi-finals they faced McEwen – serial Grand Slam champions and recently bronze medal winners at the Brier… not that any of that fazed Hardie, as they stole one in end one and two in end four, before adding three in end six to clinch it 7-3.
Hardie faced Team Liu of China in the final, and after the teams traded ones, it was the Scots who claimed two in end three, then forcing Liu to one in four and scoring another two in end five – which proved enough as the next two ends were blanked and they ran their opponents out of stones in the eighth to claim victory 5-2.
So congratulations Grant Hardie, Blair Fraser, Duncan Menzies and David Reid, the team having had another good season – just missing out on playoffs at the Scottish Championships again, but proving they can mix it with the best by claiming another Scottish Curling Tour title.
There was more Scottish success overseas, as Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat took bronze at the Westbay Hungarian Mixed Doubles Cup.
They cruised through their group with four wins from four – beating Szekeres/Nagy 8-7 (after an extra end), Sykorova/Misun 9-0, Morand/Borini 14-4 and Florek/Herman 9-3.
Also competing in Budapest were Judith and Lee McCleary, who also won their opening four matches – overcoming Szabo/Foti 7-4, Komarova/Goryachev 5-2, Wiksten/Wiksten 9-0 and Pathy-Dencso/Szabo 8-7.
That meant both Scottish pairs were into the quarter-finals, but that was as far as McCleary/McCleary could go, as they gave up a four in end six to lose 7-4 to home rink Palancsa/Kiss.
Aitken/Mouat, though, made the last four by defeating Heldin/Sjoberg of Sweden 8-5, which was largely down to a score of five in end two.
Defeat to Komarova/Goryachev, 9-7, ended their hopes of the title, but while the Russians went on to win gold, Aitken/Mouat bounced back to defeat Szekeres/Nagy again, by a 7-3 scoreline this time, which secured bronze.
Finally, the latest Grand Slam of Curling event took place in the shape of the Elite 10 in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia.
The 10-team competition featured match play scoring – the game decided by the number of ends won by each team (full explanation here).
It came down to a final between Teams Jacobs and Morris, and it was the latter (Jim Cotter, John Morris, Tyrel Griffith, Rick Sawatsky) who claimed the Slam title with a 1-up triumph.