Carson and Jackson triumph in Braehead

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Braehead Junior International women’s champions Team Jackson. Pic: facebook.com/TeamJackson1

Team Jackson retained their women’s title at the Braehead Junior International, while Team Carson made it a Scottish double by triumphing on the men’s side.

There was also action in Forfar this weekend, while Teams Brewster and Hamilton took part in competitions further overseas.

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Braehead welcomed 18 men’s teams and 14 women’s for the Junior International event on the European Junior Curling Tour (EJCT).

There were seven Scottish rinks on the men’s side, with five making the knockout stages – and a sixth (Team Craik) just missing the playoffs by a few centimetres in the draw shot rankings.

Teams Baird and Gallacher topped Pool A, with Team Whyte joining Team Nygren (Sweden) at the summit of Pool B, and Teams Kinnear and Carson dominating Pool C.

The quarter-finals brought wins for Carson (8-2 against Baird), Nygren (6-4 over Gallacher), Ramsfjell of Norway (5-3 versus Kinnear) and Whyte (6-1 against Lochmann of Switzerland).

Come the last four, Carson beat Nygren 8-4 and Ramsfjell saw off Whyte 6-2.

In the final, twos in ends three, four and six helped Carson (Luke Carson, Ben Cormack, Euan MacDiarmid, Mark Taylor) win 7-5 to clinch the title, while Nygren beat Whyte 5-4 for third spot.

There were six Scottish teams in the women’s competition, and four of them – Teams Davie, Farmer, Jackson and Morrison – progressed to the playoffs.

In the last eight, Davie saw off Chmarra (Poland) 6-4, Jackson defeated Morrison 6-4, Tanner (Switzerland) beat Farmer 6-5, and Witschonke of Switzerland eased past Podrabska (Czech Republic) 9-2.

The semi-finals were all-Scottish and all-Swiss affairs, with Jackson beating Davie 6-3 and Witschonke defeating Tanner 7-2.

As for the final, it was rather one-sided, as Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair) got two on the board in the first end before blowing it open with five in the fourth and a steal of two in the fifth to win 9-1.

Davie won the third-place match 7-6.

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The latest stop on the Goldline Scottish Curling Tour was the Forfar Curl Fest, involving 12 teams.

The semi-finals were won by Team Barr (against Marshall) and Team Dick (versus Prentice), with Grant Barr’s rink going on to take victory in the final.

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Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Duncan Menzies, Scott Andrews, Alasdair Schreiber) were in Canada for the Ashley Home Store Curling Classic, and finished Pool C with a W4 L1 record.

Wins against Teams Laycock, McQuiggan, Pierce and Tardi, with their only defeat coming against Mike McEwen’s rink.

The quarter-finals proved their limit, however, as they lost 4-3 (after extra end) to Team Koe, who went on to beat Team Edin in the final.

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And Team Hamilton (Claire Hamilton, Gina Aitken, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen) headed to Estonia for the Tallinn Ladies International Challenger, and beat Teams Link, Pavlyuchik and Telnova to make the playoffs (only losing to Team Widmer).

Like Brewster, they went out in the last eight, again to an extra-end defeat – 5-4 against Team Kauste of Finland – as Swiss rink Widmer won the final against Baksheeva (Russia).

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Team Smith triumph at Oakville OCT Fall Classic

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Team Smith: Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, coach Viktor Kjall, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith (photo courtesy of Jonathan Brazeau/Sportsnet)

Team Smith claimed the Oakville OCT Fall Classic men’s title and $3,000 prize money by defeating Team McCormick of the USA 7-2 in the final.

While fellow Scots Team Mouat exited with a W1 L3 record at the pool stage of the World Curling Tour event in Ontario, Smith went unbeaten throughout.

Back across the Atlantic, meanwhile, there was double Scottish success at the Braehead Junior International – Teams Bryce and Jackson winning the boys’ and girls’ competitions respectively in their first competitions after line-up changes.

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Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) came into the Oakville OCT Fall Classic off the back of a run to the quarter-finals at the Baden Masters in Switzerland, and hit their stride in Canada straight away.

They began the round robin pool stage by beating Team Birr 4-2 (with a pivotal steal of one in end five), then saw off Team Ferris 6-3 with a three in end eight.

Passage to the quarter-finals was secured with two further victories, against Team Balsdon 8-4 (threes in ends four and eight) and Team Murphy (three in end six).

Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Derrick Sloan, Gregor Cannon), in contrast to Smith, altered their line-up over the summer (Sloan coming in) and this was their first competition of the 2016-17 season.

They opened with a 7-4 loss to Team Brown, giving up a four in end two, before enjoying a comfortable 8-1 win over Team Stewart, stealing four in end seven.

However, narrow defeats to Team Krell (7-6) and Team McCormick (8-7) saw them exit the competition on a W1 L3 record. They don’t have to wait long to put that behind them though – they’re back in action this coming weekend, in Stu Sells Oakville Tankard tier 2.

In the quarter-finals, Smith started poorly, giving up a steal of two in end one versus Team Deruelle, but responded with a two and then a massive steal of five. The match was over after six ends, Smith the winners 8-4.

The semi-finals pitted them against Team Gardner, and the Canadians were 2-1 up after four ends. Smith scored one in end six and stole two in end seven, and although Gardner scored two in end eight, it was the Scots who took their one in the extra end to win 5-4 and make the final.

There they faced McCormick of the USA – both rinks reaching the final with W6 L0 records. But it was Smith who started like an express train, scoring two in end one and stealing singles in ends two and three.

The Americans got on the board with two in end four, but ones for Smith in ends five, six and seven handed them a 7-2 victory, $3,000 and precious tour ranking points.

Skip Kyle Smith said: “I’m really pleased with how we played. The ice has been really good and we played as well as we could really.”

Smith will look to carry this early season winning form into the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard next weekend, joined in tier 1 by fellow Scots Brewster and Murdoch.

The Oakville OCT Fall Classic women’s title was won by Team Hasselborg, who overcame Team Wrana 6-2 in an all-Swedish final.

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Team Bryce: Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle, Frazer Shaw (photo: Leslie Ingram-Brown)

In Scotland, the opening European Junior Curling Tour event of the season took place – the Braehead Junior International, which involved 12 boys’ teams and eight girls’.

Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle, Frazer Shaw) topped Pool A on the boys’ side, thanks to wins over Muskatewitz (6-1), Lottenbach (8-1) and Foss (7-2), plus peels against Ramsfjell (4-4) and Carson (6-6).

That meant they went straight into the semi-finals, whereas Teams Ramsfjell (Norway) and Carson (Luke Carson, James Carswell, George Ballantyne, Mark Taylor) finished second and third in the group and so proceeded to quarter-finals.

Pool B was won by Team Whyte (Ross Whyte, Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean), who won against Teams Schnider (8-2), Haswell (8-3), Myran (6-1) and Hoesli (7-5), and lost to Hess (5-3).

Team Haswell (Blair Haswell, Adam Keron, Cameron Paterson, Adam MacDiarmid), despite a 6-5 win over Hess of Switzerland, finished bottom of the group – Swiss rinks Hess and Schnider made it into the quarters.

On the girls’ side, the pool was headed by three Swiss teams – Witschonke, Stritt and Keiser. Scottish Teams Aitken (Karina Aitken, Rebecca Morrison, Hailey Duff, Laura Barr) and MacDonald (Amy MacDonald, Ellie Hamilton, Amy Bryce, Layla Al-Saffar) finished on W2 D1 L2 records to sit fourth and fifth.

Behind them, defending champions Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair) squeezed into the quarter-finals having won two (against Davie and Keiser) and lost three (to MacDonald, Witschonke and Stritt).

In the quarter-finals, Hess scored three in end six in beating Carson 6-1, while Ramsfjell defeated Schnider 8-4. As for the girls, Aitken scored three in end four to overcome MacDonald 5-4, while Jackson got two in end two and stole two in end five to defeat Keiser, also 5-4.

Bryce started their boys’ semi-final against Hess with a bang, scoring four in end one, adding a steal of three in end four to win 8-4. Whyte, meanwhile, scored twos in ends five and seven to beat Ramsfjell 5-2.

In the girls’ semis, Jackson were on a roll now and they overcame Stritt 7-4 (having been 4-1 down, they scored three in end six, stole two in end seven and another one in end eight); Aitken were unable to join them in the final, though, giving up two in end four and a steal of one in end five to lose 5-3 to Swiss junior champions Witschonke.

The boys’ final pitted two Scottish teams against each other, and Whyte stole two in end three to lead 3-1. Bryce responded with two in end four, then a steal of one in end six.

Whyte scored two in end seven, but Bryce replied with two of their own in the last end to win the match 6-5 and claim the title.

There was also Scottish success in the women’s final. Witschonke led 2-1 at halfway, but Jackson scored two in end five and stole two in end six for a 6-5 win – a remarkable success given their line-up change and their slow start to the competition, only just making the knockout stages.

Hess won the boys’ third/fourth playoff 5-4 against Ramsfjell, while Stritt beat Aitken 4-3 in the girls’ playoff.

For more photos from the event, and video interviews with skips Cameron Bryce, Sophie Jackson, Ross Whyte and Selina Witschonke, visit the event’s Facebook page here.

2016-17 season preview

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Team Mouat photobombed by Viktor Kjall in Kinross (photo: facebook.com/britishcurling/posts/1620064414990525)

So long, Rio, and on to Pyeongchang.

Yes, we have another one-and-a-half seasons of curling to enjoy first, but the 2018 Winter Olympics are certainly on everyone’s radar, with the added bonus of mixed doubles for the first time.

What Rio 2016 has done is inspire athletes – of all sports, and all levels – as only the Olympics can.

And Team GB’s unprecedented success can only encourage our curlers to work hard towards emulating this summer’s medal heroes – and perhaps becoming role models to grassroots players themselves.

Canadian powerhouse Team Homan spent the last week in the guise of great role models, inspiring the next generation through their first #HomanJrs camp.

 

Closer to home, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club held its own Summer Camp in Stirling, attracting 48 junior curlers.

British Curling, meanwhile, held a training camp in Kinross for elite performance teams, producing a series of action/interview videos to demonstrate some of what went on as the rinks gear up for the season ahead.

While many of those teams have retained their 2015-16 line-ups, others have made changes – some minor, others in the ‘overhaul’ category.

Scottish women’s champions for the last two seasons, Team Muirhead, have brought in Lauren Gray (their alternate at the Sochi Olympics) at lead in place of Sarah Reid – and Kelly Schafer (2010 Olympian) will cover for Anna Sloan while she recovers from injury.

Four-time Brier and Worlds winner Glenn Howard has been brought on board as tactical coach for the Muirhead rink too.

Team Gray, their skip having moved on, have split up – Jennifer Dodds and Vicky Wright joining a new-look Team Fleming.

There are line-up changes across the Scottish women’s game in fact, plus the addition of Hazel Smith’s rink – which includes Sarah Reid and Claire Hamilton, who’s returned to the game after a post-Sochi break.

 

As for the men, Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith are unchanged from last season. Given that Smith qualified for Europeans, Brewster for Worlds and Murdoch collected titles in Europe and Asia, that is no great surprise.

Teams Bryce, Hardie, Mouat and Whyte have shuffled their packs, however. One of the most notable switches is that of Robin Brydone – having skipped his own team in 2015-16, he moves onto Team Bryce at third.

Find a list of Scottish team line-ups and social media here.

The summer has not been quiet, not with a raft of team changes across the global game, a new concussion policy for the sport in Canada (‘the Gushue Rule’) and a Sweeping Summit designed to tackle #broomgate that said rather more about equipment than technique.

But it’s still exciting to have the real thing back after the break.

The first event of the new season for Scottish teams begins tomorrow – the Baden Masters in Switzerland, part of the Curling Champions Tour.

Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith represent Scotland at the tournament, facing the rinks of Peter De Cruz, Niklas Edin, Rasmus Stjerne, Thomas Ulsrud and more – there are 20 teams in total, playing round robin matches then knockouts.

The first competition of 2016-17 held in Scotland is the Braehead Junior International (September 2-4), followed by a dozen events throughout next month – see the dates for them all here.

This is of course a season with a major international tournament held in Scotland – the European Curling Championships in Braehead in November – so it’s an important time for the sport and its players to curl well, and hopefully draw some new players in.

Once again, you can follow news and events from the upcoming season on this blog, plus its Facebook and Twitter pages.

So good luck to all teams – especially the Scottish ones! – for the season ahead, and good curling!

Braehead Junior International: Scots on the podium

The Braehead Junior International kicked off this season’s European Junior Curling Tour – with Teams Jackson and Mouat claiming top three places for the host country.

There were 24 teams at the competition this weekend, 10 of them Scottish.

Teams Brydone, Joiner and Whyte (boys) and Aitken, Bryce, Murray and Young gained some good experience but were unable to win their section or claim a playoff place.

Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Zack Stewart, Fraser Kingan, Frazer Shaw) managed the latter thanks to a fine opening day which saw them win three from three.

However, they were denied a place in the semi finals in a narrow loss to Team Hess of Switzerland.

Team Hess then went on to edge out Team Mouat in the semis, before winning the boys event overall, with a 4-2 victory over fellow Swiss side Lottenbach in the final.

But Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Gregor Cannon, Angus Dowell) were not done – they were back in action in the third/fourth playoff against Norwegians Team Ramsfjell.

They gave up a couple of steals to trail 4-0 after three ends… but came roaring back with a score of 4 in end four, then steals of 3 in ends six and seven – giving them an 11-4 victory and third spot.

As for Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen), they cruised into the last four of the girls competition with four wins and a draw.

There, they claimed another win to set up a final clash with Team Gauchat of Switzerland.

After a 2 in end two they were pegged back to 2-2 in end four. Undeterred, they scored 2 in the fifth end and stole 3 in the sixth for a 7-2 triumph.

See photos from the event here (Friday), here (Saturday) and here (Sunday).