The first Goldline Scottish Curling Tour event of the season took place this weekend, with Team Bryce claiming the Braehead Open title.
Elsewhere, the new Team Hamilton competed at the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, Canada, and fell just short of a quarter-final spot.
The Braehead Open involved 22 teams in two sections, playing three pool matches ahead of the last 16.
The rinks making the quarter-finals were Teams Bryce, Carson Gray, Hardie, Hare, Ireland, Marshall and Woolston.
Bryce and Hare met in the final, which was 3-3 after five ends, but after Hare scored two, Bryce claimed three, meaning Bryce went into the final end 6-5 up but without hammer.
They managed to force the error, though, stealing one for a 7-5 win – and added to the Tallinn International they won earlier in the month, that’s two wins from two events for Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle).
The new-look Team Hamilton (Claire Hamilton, Gina Aitken, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen) were the latest Scottish rink to head across to Canada – for the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
In a triple knockout format, they began with a 7-6 loss to Flaxey to slip onto the A-Road, but wins over Eberle and Fleming set up a B-Road final with Jennifer Jones’ rink.
The Olympic champions won that encounter, and Hamilton’s campaign was ended in the C-Road final, as they lost to Holland, just one match short of a quarter-final place.
Team Muirhead continued their strong start to the season by picking up the HDF Insurance Shoot-out title in Edmonton, while three more Scottish rinks made the playoffs at the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic in Cornwall, Ontario.
Teams Drummond, Fleming and Smith performed well against a class field, only to fall short in the knockout stages.
The semi-finals had been the limit for Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer) in their first event of the season, the GSOC Tour Challenge, and they continued that fine form into the HDF Insurance Shoot-out.
Wins against Teams Scott, Robertson, Kleibrink and Ramsay, before a loss to Team Wang of China, sent them safely into the quarter-finals, where they defeated Team Rocque 8-4.
The semi-finals brought a 5-3 victory over Robertson, which set up a final against Team Hasselborg of Sweden – the rink which had knocked them out at the Tour Challenge.
After the teams traded twos, Hasselborg moved 5-2 ahead after seven ends, only for Muirhead to score three in the eighth and then steal two in the extra end to win 7-5 and claim the title.
It’s been an excellent start from the Muirhead rink – can they keep it up in their big Olympic year?
At the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic, meanwhile, Teams Drummond and Smith took part in the men’s event, with Team Fleming on the women’s side.
Drummond (Greg Drummond, Ross Paterson, Glen Muirhead, Michael Goodfellow) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) were drawn in the same pool, and Smith won their head-to-head 5-3.
Both sat on W2 L2 records going into the final pool matches, where Smith beat Howard 6-5, and Drummond overcame world champions Gushue 4-3 after an extra end – Smith having also beaten Gushue to help them progress to the playoffs.
The quarter-finals saw Smith bow out, beaten 6-5 by Walstad of Norway, but Drummond made the last four by defeating Robillard 8-6.
They could not get past Olympic champions Jacobs in their semi-final however, losing 6-3, with Jacobs going on to beat McEwen 3-1 in the final.
Still, with two wins over Gushue and runs to the playoffs, it had been a very positive event for the Scots.
The same goes for Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright), who qualified for the women’s playoffs thanks to wins over Tirinzoni, Arsenault and Belisle.
They lost 8-6 to Duncan in the quarter-finals, giving up a steal of two in the eighth, as Team Sinclair of the USA ultimately took the title, but for Fleming to make the playoffs when the likes of Flaxey and Tirinzoni did not is also encouraging.
Finally, the first Asham Under-21 Slam of the season took place this weekend – the Greenacres Junior Masters.
Teams Baird, Carson, Craik and Whyte qualified for the semi-finals on the men’s side, with Teams Bryce, Davie, Farmer and Morrison coming through on the women’s.
The last four saw Baird beat Carson and Whyte beat Craik, while Davie beat Morrison and Farmer defeated Bryce.
The men’s final brought victory for Whyte (Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Fraser Kingan, Euan Kyle), who stole one in the extra end to win 7-6.
And the women’s final was won by Davie (Lisa Davie, Kirsty Barr, Anna Skuse, Emma Barr), 7-5 over Farmer.
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!
That didn’t take long, did it? One week, two events, two Scottish wins in World Curling Tour events.
We’re barely into September, but a slightly altered Team Bryce and a rather more different Team Mouat have already secured their first titles, in Tallinn and Oakville, respectively.
With our first Grand Slam of the season just around the corner, here’s hoping that Scottish curling can carry this initial form further into the season.
Bryce rise to the challenge
While four Scottish teams headed west to Canada, Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle) went east to Estonia, for the Tallinn Challenger.
They cruised through the round robin stage, finishing with four wins (against Teams Truksans, Lill, Svensgaard and Jungen) and no defeats.
They faced Team Eremin (Russia) in the last four, and a 7-3 win put them into the final against Team Gulbis of Latvia.
Again Bryce were just too strong for their opponents, scoring three in end three and stealing two in the fourth on their way to a 7-2 victory and the Tallinn Challenger title.
Skip Cameron Bryce told British Curling: “The whole team played really well, although we are still learning with our change of line-up for the season.”
The team now return to the new National Curling Academy, to prepare for the Braehead Open (September 22-24).
Mouat takes Tankard triumph
Teams Brewster, Drummond, Mouat and Smith ensured Scotland was well represented at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard in Ontario, but it was Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) who finished top of the pile.
I said in my season preview that I was excited to see what these boys could do on tour this season… it looks like I have my answer already.
Things were not so rosy for Team Drummond, though, as they lost to Mouat, McCormick and Deruelle to bow out early.
It’s early days for this rink, certainly, but they will be hoping for more at next week’s GSOC Tour Challenge (Tier 2).
Team Brewster have also rung the changes, and they had something of a rollercoaster in Oakville – a defeat to Fournier to drop onto the B-Road, wins over Corbett and Kim, a loss to Clark, victory over Stjerne, and finally a defeat to McCormick to end their involvement.
Team Smith, by contrast, have kept the same roster (only adding Glen Muirhead as alternate ahead of the Olympics), and they made the quarter-finals in Oakville.
Not that it was a smooth journey. Beaten by Kim first up, they then saw off Zou and Horgan, lost to Simmons to land on the C-Road, but then overcame Fournier and Gunnlaugson to make the playoffs.
Those quarter-finals pitted them against Mouat, who had sailed into the last eight thanks to four straight wins – against Ainsley, Drummond, Horgan and Clark.
Mouat dominated the all-Scottish meeting, taking three in end one, then a steal, and then twos in ends four and six to win it 8-3.
Mouat’s semi-final was tighter, but one in end eight was enough to see off Horgan, setting up a final against Kim of Korea.
The Korean rink scored three in end four to lead 3-1, but twos in ends five and seven, plus a steal in the eighth, gave Mouat a 6-4 victory – making it W7 L0 at the event.
For this team to have gelled this quickly is highly impressive, especially given the quality of the other teams on show.
So that’s $8,000 in the bank for Mouat already; their next event is the Oakville OCT Fall Classic (alongside Brewster) – can they maintain their hot streak?
THE CHOSEN ONES: Great Britain’s men’s and women’s curlers for Pyeongchang 2018 (Team Muirhead and Team Smith). Pic: British Curling/Graeme Hart
Who said anything about a quiet summer break?
There have been some huge changes in the landscape of Scottish curling over the last few months.
There’s the personnel changes, of course.
David Murdoch’s playing days are over, with one of the stalwarts of the Scottish game retiring from competitive curling and switching to coaching.
The subsequent reshuffles have thrown up some intriguing team combinations for the new season.
Murdoch’s third Greg Drummond has moved up to skip, piloting a rink which also consists of Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon and Michael Goodfellow.
Heading in the opposite direction to Paterson is Scott Andrews, who joins an all-new Team Brewster, with Tom Brewster also welcoming Duncan Menzies and Alasdair Schreiber to his quartet.
Team Bryce have added Ross Whyte to their roster, while Bruce Mouat’s new rink has a bit of a rockstar look to it.
Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan are all on board – it’s a team packed with talent, so I’m excited to see what they can do in Scotland and on tour this year.
There are changes on the women’s side too, notably Sochi 2014 medallist Claire Hamilton coming into skip Gina Aitken’s team – Aitken moving to third in place of Rowena Kerr.
Some teams have stuck with the same formula of course, including the rinks selected to represent Great Britain at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (oh yes, it’s an Olympic year!) – Team Muirhead and Team Smith.
There have of course been changes outside of the teams themselves, including the opening of the National Curling Academy in Stirling, which will hopefully see Scotland/Britain keep up with the world’s top – and emerging – curling nations.
The Curling Champions Tour and World Curling Tour have merged, and – closer to home – it’s good news to see the Scottish Curling Tour expand and gain a swanky new website.
Scotland (Aberdeen to be exact) will host the 2018 World Junior Championships, which can hopefully build on the interest generated by the Olympics (the countdown to #lovecurling trending again is underway…) the month before.
The Olympics have pulling power that individual winter sports can only dream of, so it’s vital that curling (Scottish curling in particular) uses its events this year to draw more fans, and maybe the next generation of players, to the game.
This weekend sees things move up a gear. The first Grand Slam event of the season is on the horizon – the Tour Challenge (Tiers 1 and 2), on September 5-10 – and so there are four Scottish rinks over in Canada.
Victory in Oakville (in the Oakville OCT Fall Classic) was one of the highlights in an impressively consistent (also consistently impressive) season which saw them get the nod for the Olympics.
How will they handle that extra pressure as Pyeonchang approaches? They’re still a young team, but they’ve been together for a long time and they know how to beat the world’s best.
Eve Muirhead has described an Olympic appearance (and medal) as putting a target on your back, and we’ll get our first chance to see the Team GB women at the Tour Challenge in Regina, where Team Fleming will also compete.
Excited yet? You should be. The changes over the summer simply add another dynamic to what promises to be a thrilling Olympic season.
It’s been a packed end to the season, with the good (Team Smith’s European Masters win, bronze for Scotland women at World Seniors) mixed with the bad (Scotland/GB missing out on Olympic Mixed Doubles).
Here’s a quick round-up of how the 2016-17 season has come to its conclusion.
Firstly to St Gallen, where the European Masters involved three Scottish men’s teams – Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan), Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith).
Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Vicky Wright, Alice Spence) were the sole Scots on the women’s side, but after two wins in the opening two matches versus Teams Schöpp (6-4) and Thompson (6-5) they lost their three remaining group matches to miss out on the final.
Not the results we wanted at the European masters but a great event none the less,Thanks to the organisers. Our season done is for 16/17
In the men’s event, it wasn’t a great tournament for Murdoch, as they only picked up one win from seven round robin games – 7-4 against Team Walstad.
Team Brewster did rather better, with wins against Murdoch (8-2), Pfister (5-3), Walstad (10-1) and McCormick (4-2) qualifying them for the 3v4 game versus McCormick, which the Scots won 4-2.
The best performance, though, came from Team Smith, who won four of their round robin matches – against Pfister (5-4), Murdoch (7-5), Brewster (7-3) and McCormick (8-5) – to edge by Brewster to make the final.
There they faced the ever-menacing Team Edin, and Smith finally got one over on the serial Slam-winning Swedes, as two in end four and one in end eight saw them pinch it 5-4.
The Champions Cup – for teams who have won major competitions during the season – took place in Calgary, Alberta, and involved three Scottish rinks – Teams Brewster and Hardie (Grant Hardie, Blair Fraser, David Reid, Duncan Menzies) on the men’s side, and Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) on the women’s.
Neither men’s team could progress from the round robin, with Brewster taking a win against Team Morozumi (9-3) but being beaten by Teams Laycock (5-4), McEwen (9-1) and Gushue (6-3).
Had a blast at the Grand Slam last week in Calgary… we'll be working hard to be back next season! A huge thank… https://t.co/Kwh6SOA4pV
Hardie, meanwhile, lost all four games – against Teams De Cruz (8-1), Carruthers (6-3), Jacobs (8-6) and Morris (6-3) – but this was undoubtedly a helpful experience for the team in a Slam environment.
The men’s title went the way of Team Jacobs, who overcame Team Koe 6-2 in the final.
Muirhead also missed out on the women’s playoffs – beating Flaxey (9-4) but losing to Pätz (7-2), Jones (7-6) and Wrana (6-2).
Well that's a wrap from Team Muirhead on the 16/17 season! Looking forward to time off and hard work over the next months…keep you posted! pic.twitter.com/o3TtOgHdCM
The women’s final was contested by Teams Homan and Hasselborg, with Homan scoring two in end eight to pinch it 5-4.
The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Lethbridge, Canada, saw Scotland represented by Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat.
They swept the round robin, with victories over Norway (6-3), Bulgaria (10-3), Ireland (8-5), Wales (11-2), Serbia (11-0), Denmark (8-2) and Italy (8-4).
Also in Scotland’s group, Ireland (Alison Fyfe and Neil Fyfe) won four and lost three (beating Serbia 10-2, Denmark 7-3, Bulgaria 11-4 and Wales 11-2, but losing to Italy 5-4, Scotland and Norway 10-4), with Wales (Dawn Watson and Adrian Meikle) coming in on W2 L5 (winning against Serbia 11-3 and Denmark 9-7, but defeated by Norway 6-2, Scotland, Italy 9-8, Ireland and Bulgaria).
England (Anna Fowler and Ben Fowler) just missed out on qualifying from the round robin, finishing on a W4 L3 record (beating France 8-5, Kazakhstan 17-2, Turkey 10-5 and Germany 9-6, but losing to the USA 7-2, the Czech Republic 6-4 and Canada 7-6).
The quarter-finals saw Ireland face Korea, losing 6-3, while Scotland – despite winning their group – faced Canadians Joanne Courtney and Reid Carruthers, and they were beaten 8-3 after giving up four in end seven.
Now scrambling to qualify for the Olympics, Aitken and Mouat faced Sweden – and scored four in end four as they beat them 9-2 – while the Irish pair lost to Russia 7-5.
It was the Russians Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii up next for Scotland, and again Aitken/Mouat lost to a very strong opponent, 6-5, as Russia scored singles in ends one, three, four, six, seven and the extra to edge a tight match.
Scotland had to beat Italy next and hope. They did that, 7-5, but Norway’s win over Finland denied them a spot at Pyeongchang 2018, with just two points in it on the ranking system.
Sport is seldom ‘fair’, and Scotland had the misfortune to face Canada and Russia after a flawless round robin.
What would seem flawed is a qualification process that places so much emphasis on a couple of games at one event, over the hard work and consistent tournament success of a Scottish duo who have spent the last four years working towards an Olympic spot, and were clearly heartbroken to fall short.
Switzerland, who went unbeaten through the championship, beat Canada 6-5 in the final to win gold, with China taking silver.
Lethbridge also hosted the World Senior Curling Championships, with Scotland represented by Ian Drysdale, David McQueen, Ronald Wilson, Graham Lindsay and Andrew Hemming (alternate) in the men’s event.
They finished the round robin with a W3 L3 record, as they saw off Finland 6-3, England 4-2 and Russia 12-2, but were beaten by Canada (7-2), Wales (6-4) and New Zealand (5-2)).
That meant a tiebreaker against Wales (Adrian Meikle, Richard Pougher, Chris Wells, Gary Waddell, Alistair Reid (alternate)), who had also won three and lost three, and again the Welsh came out on top, 5-4 this time, to put the Scots out.
England men (Thomas Campbell, Philip Barton, Mike Spain, Alastair Fyfe) ended up on W1 L5, with Ireland men (Peter Wilson, Johnjo Kenny, Bill Gray, David Whyte, David Hume (alternate)) on W5 L2.
Wales beat Israel 8-6 to make the last eight, but there they succumbed 8-1 to Canada; Ireland, though, qualified for the quarter-finals with a 5-4 win over Denmark.
Canada proved too strong for the Irish in the semi-finals, winning 5-2, but the Irish did secure bronze with a 6-3 win over Germany in the 3v4 game, while Sweden pipped Canada to gold.
As for the women’s competition, Scotland (Jackie Lockhart, Christine Cannon, Isobel Hannen, Margaret Richardson, Janet Lindsay (alternate)) qualified from Group B with five wins (against the Czech Republic (9-2), Slovakia (15-1), Australia (9-1), Finland (7-6 after an extra end) and Switzerland (8-4)) and one loss (versus the USA (6-4)).
England women (Judith Dixon, Val Saville, Helen Forbes, Deborah Higgins) were W3 L4 for the event, with Ireland women (Carolyn Hibberd, Marie O’Kane, Louise Kerr, Clare McCormick) W1 L6.
Scotland, having finished second in their group to the USA, had to beat Russia to make the last four, which they did 10-0.
Their semi-final pitted them against Colleen Jones’ Canada, and it was the host country who emerged victorious with a two in end eight to win 5-3.
Canada took gold and Switzerland silver, and Scotland ensured they joined them on the podium by beating the USA 8-5 (scoring four in end five) in the bronze medal match.
Skip Lockhart said: “It feels really good to get a medal and to go back with something after not playing quite the ‘A’ game we wanted against Canada.
“We had to fight really hard for that. It’s been a tough week but every medal makes the season worthwhile and we’ve still got years to play in seniors, so…bring it on.”
Both Team Muirhead and Team Smith put in strong performances at the Grand Slam of Curling Players’ Championship, exiting at the playoff stages – both to the eventual winners in Toronto.
The Muirhead rink squeezed into the last eight in the women’s competition – at an event they have won three times – but on this occasion they were beaten in the quarter-finals by Team Jones, who ultimately took victory in the final.
Kyle Smith’s quartet went one better – making it to the men’s semi-finals – but there they were undone by Team Edin, who went on to become champions.
Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) began their run in emphatic style, scoring two in end three and four in end seven for an 8-2 victory over Team Epping.
But they were on the wrong side of that scoreline in their next match, giving up threes in ends one and five in defeat to Team Edin of Sweden.
Undeterred, they came back with an 8-3 win over Team Laycock – scoring three in end one, two in end three and two in end seven – before edging past Team Jacobs, as they took a two in the first end and then traded singles, claiming the one point needed in the eighth for a 5-4 triumph.
Not our best performance but good enough to get the win… we now play De Cruz at 3 30 a win guarantees our spot in the playoffs!
An 8-6 loss to Team De Cruz in their final round robin match could not deny them a spot in the quarter-finals, where they once again met Jacobs.
Smith scored three in end two and one in end four to lead 4-3 at halfway, staying in control with two in end six and one in the eighth to clinch it 7-6.
In the final four they were pitted against Edin, and again it was the Swedes who came out on top – thanks to a steal of two in end five and another two in end seven, for a 6-2 victory.
That doesn’t take away from a super run at their first Players’ Championship by the Smith rink, who have enjoyed a real breakthrough season in Grand Slam competition – and are the focus of the below video feature.
Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Kelly Schafer (filling in for Lauren Gray at lead)) have some history with the Players’ Championship, having won the women’s title three times in Toronto.
They were off to a losing start this time though, as Team Sweeting scored twos in ends three and six, then took their one with hammer in the eighth, to beat the Scots 6-5.
After an opening game loss to Sweeting last night, Skipper took on a Cricket eating bushtucker trial and we got a win this afternoon v Jones pic.twitter.com/a5N9762iNb
Muirhead got back on track against Team Jones – stealing in ends one, two and three to lead 4-0, then adding three more points in ends six and seven for a 7-3 win – but that was followed by a 5-2 loss to Team Hasselborg.
They then lost 6-4 to Team Fleury – giving up critical steals in ends five and six – but eked out a quarter-final spot courtesy of victory over Team Englot, as they stole their way to a 5-0 lead after two ends and held on to take it 8-6.
The last eight brought a rematch with Jennifer Jones’ rink, and this time the Canadians nicked it 6-5.
Muirhead stole in end one but Jones claimed three in the second, only for the Scots to answer with two and a steal of one to lead 4-3 after four.
Jones, though, scored singles in ends five, six and seven – and Muirhead could only manage one in end eight, handing their opponents the win.
1/4 final finish for us at this years @grandslamcurl Players Champs. Huge thanks to all involved putting on a first class job as per!#GSOC
The Jones rink went on to win the title – their sixth! – by overcoming Sweeting 8-4 in the final.
There is plenty more curling coming up this week, starting with the European Masters in St Gallen (April 19-22) – with Teams Brewster, Murdoch (the holders) and Smith in the men’s competition, and Team Fleming in the women’s.