Team Mouat have enjoyed a storming start to the season, adding the Biosteel Oakville Fall Classic title to last week’s Stu Sells Oakville Tankard win.
Bruce Mouat shuffled his pack over the off-season, bringing in Grant Hardie and Hammy McMillan, and the results have been instant.
More on them in just a moment, but first here’s what happened at the first Grand Slam of the season…
Solid start for Muirhead
First competition of the new season for Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray), and a run to a Grand Slam semi-final.
The Tour Challenge in Regina, Saskatchewan, provided the first real opportunity for the sport’s big guns to size each other up, and it turns out the British Olympic women measure up well.
They made the playoffs the hard way – beating Harrison and Homan, but losing to Wang and Sweeting, meant a tiebreaker against Tippin, which they won 5-4.
Skip Muirhead then shot 88% to guide her side past Pätz in the quarter-finals, but Hasselborg of Sweden were too strong in the last four, winning 6-5 after a crucial steal of two in end six.
Not a bad platform for Team Muirhead to build on for the rest of the season.
Muirhead told British Curling: “Reaching a Grand Slam semi-final on our first outing of the season is no mean feat.
“The competition out here is the best in the world with the highest level of curling there is.”
Also performing well in their first event of the new season were Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright), who took part in the Tier 2 section in Regina.
Like Muirhead, they won two (against Eberle and Silvernagle) and lost two (versus Feltscher and Sidorova) in the round robin stage, forcing them into a tiebreaker.
Fleming pushed Lawton all the way, but lost out 6-5.
The eventual women’s champions were Team Sweeting (Tier 1) and Team Einarson (Tier 2).
Struggles on men’s side
Things were not quite so promising for Teams Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) and Drummond (Greg Drummond, Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon, Michael Goodfellow) on the men’s side at the Tour Challenge.
There’s plenty of work for Smith to do ahead of the Olympics, underlined by four defeats – to McCormick, Edin, Simmons and Epping – in their Tier 1 pool.
In Tier 2, Drummond managed to go one better than at last week’s Oakville Tankard by winning a game (against Jacobson), but losses to Brown, Gunnlaugson and Lyburn ended their challenge early.
The men’s winners were Team Gushue (Tier 1) and Team Gunnlaugson (Tier 2).
Mouat at the double
Away from the Grand Slam, but still in Canada, Teams Brewster (Tom Brewster, Duncan Menzies, Scott Andrews, Alasdair Schreiber) and Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) took part in the Biosteel Oakville Fall Classic.
Brewster lost their first three pool games (to Mabergs, Kim and Steski), which meant that their victory over Zou was only a consolation.
Mouat, by contrast, cruised through the group stage, beating Retornaz, Baumann, Maus and Dickie to book their passage to the quarter-finals.
Further wins against Horgan (6-5) and Schwaller (8-7, stealing one in an extra end) sent them into the final, where they faced Chang-Min Kim of Korea.
It was a tight match, with only singles scored as it went to an extra end, but Mouat held hammer and scored their one to win 4-3.
That’s two events entered and two titles gained for Team Mouat to start the season, and they’re yet to lose a single match (played 14, won 14).
It’s going to take a good team to stop these boys if they keep this up!