Curling’s back! Not that it’s been a quiet summer…
In terms of Scottish teams, Team Mouat – so successful last season – are one of few constants.
There are now two Team Muirheads – though Eve Muirhead will not be skipping her rink at the start of the season, as she recovers from surgery, while Anna Sloan has stepped back from competitive curling… and Vicki Adams is now Vicki Chalmers after getting married.
Jennifer Dodds and Vicky Wright have moved over from what was Team Fleming, to form a five-strong rink for this season.
And the other Team Muirhead? Skipped by Glen Muirhead alongside his brother Thomas, and joined by another two brothers – Kyle and Cammy Smith.
Teams Jackson and Paterson round out the British Curling performance (i.e. funded) teams, with three mixed doubles pairings also on the performance programme.
They are Gina Aitken and Scott Andrews (Bruce Mouat focusing on the four-person game for now), Jayne Stirling and Fraser Kingan, and – interestingly enough – an English pair, siblings Anna and Ben Fowler.
There’s a new event to look forward to this season – the Curling World Cup, made up of three legs and a grand final, to go alongside the usual World Curling Federation, World Curling Tour, Scottish Curling Tour and Grand Slam of Curling events.
You can see a calendar of the major events this season – both in Scotland and overseas – here.
Beyond our shores, the game as a whole has changed too, with the WCF implementing the five-rock rule, designed to keep more stones in play.
It could be something of a transitional season for curling, and many of the Scottish teams – but it’s bound to be an exciting one.
Already we’ve had the Baden Masters in Basel – which saw Team Mouat scrape into the playoffs with a W2 L2 record, only to lose 6-3 to eventual champions Team Ulsrud (#teampants continue!) in the quarter-finals.
Further afield, Jayne Stirling and Fraser Kingan did brilliantly in their first mixed doubles event of the season, at the Winter Games in New Zealand.
They won five out of six matches in the group stage, then beat New Zealand and Norway to make the final against Canada.
Olympic champions Jennifer Jones and Brett Laing proved too strong, winning 9-5, but winning silver medals is a very, very encouraging way to start the season.
Three more Scottish teams – Jackson, Paterson and Whyte – are over in Canada for the Oakville Fall Classic, which is ongoing; follow the latest scores here.