Teams Whyte and Morrison are Scottish Junior champions

Whyte Scottish juniors
DELIGHT: The victorious Team Whyte. Pic: twitter.com/scottishcurling

Teams Whyte and Morrison claimed the men’s and women’s titles at the 2018 Scottish Curling Junior Championships in Aberdeen, earning the right to represent Scotland at Worlds.

With eight men’s rinks and nine women’s in action, a round robin stage would determine which three teams from each side of the competition would reach the knockout stages.

No tiebreakers were required, with Teams Whyte (W7 L0), Kinnear (W6 L1) and Baird (W5 L2) making it on the men’s side, and Teams Bryce (W7 L1), S Jackson (W7 L1) and Morrison (W6 L2) coming through from the women’s field.

In the 1v2 page playoffs, Whyte edged Kinnear 5-4, while Bryce beat Jackson 5-3.

The semi-finals saw Jackson’s women’s title defence ended, as Morrison won 5-4 after an extra end, while Kinnear stole four in the 10th end to seal an 11-5 victory against Baird.

Both finals were suitably close, with Bryce and Morrison trading twos before another two in end seven and a steal in the 10th handed a 5-3 win and the women’s title to Team Morrison (Rebecca Morrison, Amy MacDonald, Hailey Duff, Leeanne McKenzie).

Across in the men’s final, and Team Whyte (Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Fraser Kingan, Euan Kyle) got off to a flier with three in the first end, and despite a steal of two for Kinnear in the seventh, it was Whyte who held on to triumph 7-5.

The victorious pair will represent Scotland in the World Junior Curling Championships on home soil, with this event also being hosted by Aberdeen, on March 3-10.

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There was a welcome return to the mixed doubles arena for Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat this weekend, with the duo competing in the Gefle Mixed Doubles Cup in Gavle, Sweden.

Aitken/Mouat sailed through to the playoffs by winning their three matches on the A-Road – 11-2 against Wild/Kohn, 8-3 versus Wendel/Wingfors and 7-5 over Noreen/Noreen.

The wins kept coming in the knockout stages, too, as they beat Andersson/Andersson 7-3 in the quarter-finals and then Szekeres/Nagy of Hungary 12-2 (with steals of two, three and three, then a four in the fifth end) to make the final.

There they played Perret/Rios of Switzerland, and the Scottish pair made it six wins from six in Sweden, scoring two in the third end and four in the sixth on their way to clinching it 8-4.

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Finally, just a quick pointer towards Sunday night’s BBC Countryfile, which profiled Glen and Thomas Muirhead – and then put Matt Baker on the ice with Team Smith in Stirling – ahead of the Winter Olympics.

If you missed the programme, it’s available to watch again here.

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Team Smith finish runners-up at German Masters – again!

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Team Smith came in second at the German Masters in Hamburg this week. Photo: Graeme Hart/Perthshire Picture Agency/British Curling

Teams Muirhead and Smith played their final competitions before the Winter Olympics next month, with both reaching the knockout stages.

The Muirhead rink (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer) were one of seven Scottish teams – the others being Bryce, Fleming, Hamilton, K Jackson, Morrison and Wilson – to compete at the Glynhill Ladies International in Glasgow.

Only Muirhead and Fleming made it out of the group stages, and they faced each other in the quarter-finals.

It was a close-run thing that went all the way to an extra end, but Muirhead took their one with hammer to win 5-4.

They were stunned in the semi-finals, though, giving up four in the fifth end as they lost 8-1 to Team Feltscher of Switzerland – who went on to win the final 7-4 against compatriots Team Stern.

As for Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith, Glen Muirhead), they were looking to go one better than last year at the German Masters in Hamburg, having been runners-up in 2017.

Joined by Teams Brewster, Bryce and Drummond, only Smith and Drummond made it to the knockout stages, where Smith beat Hess 7-2 to make the last four, but Drummond lost 6-1 to Pfister of Switzerland.

A 6-1 victory over Baumann sent Smith into the final, where they faced the Swiss Pfister rink, and led 2-0 before giving up three in the sixth end.

Skip Kyle Smith had a tough double takeout chance to win the game in the eighth end, but could only score one, and Pfister took one in the extra end to clinch it 4-3.

Still, these were promising performances for both Muirhead and Smith ahead of the Games in South Korea; fingers crossed for more of the same on the biggest stage of all.

***

Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) were looking for a second straight Grand Slam of Curling title (!), after their success at the Boost National in November.

This week saw them take part in the Meridian Canadian Open in Camrose, Alberta, and they began with a superb 6-4 over Team Koe.

A loss to Gunnlaugson followed, and although they bounced back with a win over Shuster, defeats to McEwen and Edin saw the Mouat rink eliminated.

The men’s title went to Team De Cruz of Switzerland, after they beat Team Edin 5-3 in the final, while Team Carey won the women’s final 10-5 against Team Englot.

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Unsurprisingly, things now quieten down ahead of the Olympics, but this week does see the Johnston Carmichael Scottish Curling Junior Championships take place at Curl Aberdeen.

There are eight men’s and nine women’s teams involved, with Teams Kinnear and Whyte looking like favourites on the men’s side, and Teams S Jackson and Morrison on the women’s.

You can follow the scores from the event, running from today (January 23) until Sunday (January 28), here.

Final preparations for the Olympic Games

 

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Team GB’s curlers for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Pic: British Curling/Alan Peebles Photography

 

This weekend marks the final preparations for Team GB’s representatives at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, with Team Smith in action at the German Masters and Team Muirhead involved in the Glynhill Ladies International.

Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith, Glen Muirhead) are one of four Scottish rinks in Hamburg for the German Masters, as they are joined by the teams of Tom Brewster, Cameron Bryce and Greg Drummond.

Other rinks involved include Teams Baumann, Retornaz, Van Dorp and Walstad.

A fifth Scottish rink, Team Mouat, are out in Camrose, Alberta, for the Meridian Canadian Open, the latest Grand Slam of Curling event.

Mouat won the last Grand Slam – the Boost National in November – and they’ve started this event with a 6-4 win over Team Koe (Canada’s Olympic men’s team) and 6-4 loss to Team Gunnlaugson.

As for the women, Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer) are on home soil for the Glynhill Ladies International.

They made the quarter-finals of the International Bernese Ladies Cup, before going out to Team Wang of China, who went on to win the event.

Team Fleming clinched the Consolation prize at the same event, beating Team Jentsch of Germany in the final, and they are also at the Glynhill competition.

The other Scottish participants are the rinks led by Amy Bryce, Claire Hamilton, Katie Jackson, Rebecca Morrison and Maggie Wilson, while a strong international field includes Teams Feltscher, Moiseeva, Sidorova and Wang.

And… just a reminder that the Winter Olympics run from February 9-25!

Olympic preparations in full flow

 

Team Edin Perth Masters
THUMBS UP: Perth Masters winners Team Edin. Photo: facebook.com/perthmasters

 

With the Winter Olympics beginning on February 9 (that’s just four weeks away), Teams Muirhead and Smith’s preparations to represent Great Britain are almost complete.

Last weekend Team Smith made the quarter-finals of the Perth Masters, which was chock-full of Olympians; this weekend Team Muirhead are in International Bernese Ladies Cup action.

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Once again the Dewars Centre welcomed a high-class field of 32 teams (from Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as 10 from the home nation) for the Perth Masters.

Teams Edin (Sweden) and De Cruz (Switzerland) showed their international pedigree by qualifying directly from the A-Road, while there was a surprisingly early exit for Scotland’s Team Mouat.

The first Scottish rink to make the playoffs were Team Bryce, winning their B-Road final against Van Dorp, and they were joined by Baumann of Germany.

That left the remaining teams on the C-Road to battle for the last four quarter-final spots, and Team Smith managed to overcome Retornaz to book their place, but Team Brewster succumbed to Ulsrud of Norway, with Teams Simmons (Canada) and Stjerne (Denmark) also making it through.

Both Scottish rinks exited at the last eight stage, though, as Bryce went out to Ulsrud 5-3 (crucially giving up a steal of two in end six), and Smith lost 6-3 to De Cruz in a rematch of their European Championship semi-final (the Swiss stealing three in the sixth end).

Ulsrud then lost 7-2 to Edin in the semi-finals, and the Swedish rink would meet De Cruz in the final after the Swiss team saw off Baumann 7-3.

And ultimately it was Edin showing the hottest form going into the Olympics, winning 7-4 to take the title.

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This weekend it’s the women who take centre stage, with Team Muirhead joined by compatriots Fleming, Hamilton and Jackson at the International Bernese Ladies Cup.

It’s another good field, with Teams Jentsch, Moiseeva and Paetz among the Scots’ opponents, and you can follow the scores here.

Also this weekend, we have the CCT Dutch Masters Mixed Doubles, which features Judith and Lee McCleary, and Jayne Stirling and Fraser Kingan, from Scotland.

Scottish teams end 2017 in style

 

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FOCUS: Another title for Bruce Mouat and his team! Pic: British Curling/Graeme Hart

 

A successful first half of the 2017-18 season for Scottish curling teams ended in a most fitting way, with Team Mouat picking up yet another title, in Dumfries.

There was more good news from overseas, as Teams Drummond, Muirhead and Smith all made the playoffs in their competitions in China and Japan.

I’ll reflect on all of those results, and do a quick review of the season so far, just in time for us to step into Christmas.

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Nine Scottish rinks were joined by teams from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain and Switzerland for the Dumfries Challenger Series event last weekend.

There were some surprising round robin stage results, which saw Teams Brewster and Bryce make early exits after finishing W3 L2, and Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan, Euan Kyle (sub)) barely squeeze into the knockouts, also on a W3 L2 record.

The quarter-finals brought victory for Teams Schnider (7-5 versus Jungen), Hess (5-4 against Hare), Krause (6-2 over Marshall) and the last Scottish rink standing, Mouat (7-2 against Staehli).

Hess then beat Schnider 6-4 to make the final, where they were joined by Mouat, but only after they had come from 6-2 down after six ends to steal in the extra end and beat Krause 7-6.

Victory in the final was a bit more routine for Mouat, stealing one in the third end and two in the sixth to beat Hess 5-3 and clinch the title.

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Great Britain Olympians Teams Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) travelled out to Japan to take part in the Karuizawa International.

On the men’s side, Smith topped Pool C, with four straight wins over Kasahara (8-1), Shimizuno (6-0), SooHyuk Kim (6-2) and Ogihara (7-2).

They won their quarter-final, too, 6-4 against De Cruz of Switzerland after scoring three in the fourth end and two in the sixth, but lost out in the semi-finals to Chang-Min Kim (5-4), although they did bounce back to take third place by beating Mabergs 6-4 while Morozumi took top spot.

As for Muirhead, they safely qualified second from Pool A, having beaten Natsuizaka 7-5, lost 8-4 to Un-Chi Gim, but then winning against Paetz (5-4) and Matsumura (6-2).

They could not get past Tirinzoni of Switzerland in the last eight, though, losing out 5-2, with Fujisawa going on to win the title.

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Team Drummond (Greg Drummond, Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon, Michael Goodfellow) enjoyed a good end to the year, too, finishing third at the Qinghai International in China.

In the group stages, they saw off teams from Canada and Russia, then China juniors, before losing to Switzerland and beating the USA, Norway, Sweden and China to make the semi-finals.

The last four brought a rematch with Rui Liu of China, and this time the local favourites claimed victory, but Drummond rebounded to beat Norway (Ulsrud) 8-5 to clinch third spot.

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The final Asham Under-21 Slam of the season also took place, in the form of the Lockerbie Junior International.

Eight men’s teams and 10 women’s rinks took part, with Sections A and B on both sides of the competition.

The men’s semi-finals saw Team Kinnear score fours in ends five and six to beat Craik 9-2, and Team Denmark defeat Baird 7-4.

As for the women, the last four brought victory for Team Denmark (7-4 over Bremane of Latvia) and Team Davie (4-3 against Bryce).

So both men’s and women’s finals pitted a Danish team against a Scottish one, and in each the Scots came out on top – Kinnear (Callum Kinnear, Duncan McFadzean, Ryan McCormack, Matthew McKenzie) winning 6-3, and Davie (Lisa Davie, Kirsty Barr, Anna Skuse, Emma Barr) victors by a 6-5 score.

Weekend at the final U21 slam event of the year at Lockerbie. We finished the group stages on a 2 win and 1 loss record and squeaked into top spot of the section. We played the Semi this morning against Team Kinnear. A good close game but a loose end left the game in their hands. A similar story in the 3V4 VS Team Baird meaning it was a 4th place finish for us. However the points collected this weekend was enough for us to now be the Asham U21 slam winners!!! This is a massive achievement for us and has smashed all targets we set at the start of the season! Massive thanks to all our sponsors @foxglide @fitbituk_ireland @ziyeninc @forfarindoorsports Next up for us is our last comp of 2017 the 4th leg of the Scottish U17s held in forfar. He hope everyone has a fab Christmas! 🎄

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The overall Under-21 Slam titles go to Craik (men’s) and Davie (women’s), and there’s now just a month to go until the Scottish Junior Championships in Aberdeen.

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So that’s the last of the curling before Christmas – it’ll return on December 28-29 (the Asham Under-17 Slam in Forfar) and then January 4-7 (the Perth Masters).

Until then, a moment for reflection. With the Winter Olympics less than 50 days away, Scottish/British curling couldn’t really have asked for a better first half to the season.

The European Championships in St Gallen, Switzerland, in November were a triumph for Scotland, with Team Muirhead taking gold and Team Smith silver.

If they can distill those winning ingredients again in Pyeongchang, there’s no reason why they can’t medal again on the Olympic stage.

Team Mouat have also been outstanding, especially given their new line-up. Things were already going pretty well, with two titles in two weeks in September (the Oakville Tankard and Oakville Fall Classic), but that was nothing compared to the National in Sault Ste Marie in November.

On their way to winning that Grand Slam – the first ever by a Scottish men’s rink, with Bruce Mouat the youngest skip to win one – they defeated the cream of Canadian men’s curling: Jacobs, Koe and McEwen!

Mouat team member Grant Hardie also skipped Scotland to the World Mixed Championship title, while there was overseas success aplenty for Teams Bryce, Drummond, Fleming, Jackson, Morrison…

These are just the headlines in what has been a frantic, but fantastic, start to the season.

Let’s hope it continues into 2018, but until then… have a Merry Christmas!

Team Fleming make last eight and Canadian Olympic spots decided

Team Fleming before Mesabi Classic
Team Fleming at Mountain Iron Buhl High School ahead of the Curl Mesabi Classic. Pic: facebook.com/teamfleming1

There was not quite the overseas success which Team Morrison enjoyed at the EJCT Austrian Women’s Cup the week before, but Team Fleming did a good job representing Scotland across the Atlantic this weekend.

A little further north of Minnesota, the hotbed of curling (and therefore the gold medal favourites in every Olympic Games) saw its Olympic representatives decided.

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Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) were in Eveleth, Minnesota (USA), for the Curl Mesabi Classic.

They began well, with wins over Teams Rhyme (5-2) and Martin (6-5), but defeats to Rocque (3-2) and Schultz (6-4) forced them into a tiebreaker with McPhee, which they won to make the quarter-finals.

The last eight pitted them against Rocque again, and once again the Grand Slam regulars were too strong, with twos in ends three and six helping them to a 6-2 victory – and Rocque went on the win the title, beating Roth in the final.

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The Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings culminated in Ottawa, Ontario, this weekend, and it’s Teams Homan and Koe who will represent Canada at next year’s Olympic Games.

Team Carey topped the women’s round robin with eight wins from eight, but after Homan defeated reigning Olympic champions Jones in the semi-final, it was the current world champions who triumphed 6-5 in the final.

On the men’s side, Koe finished W7 L1 to book their place in the final; McEwen beat Gushue in the semi, but could not repeat the trick – Koe winning 7-6.

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They will be joined at Pyeongchang 2018 by Denmark men (Stjerne), Italy men (Retornaz), China women (Wang) and Denmark women (Dupont), after they emerged from the Olympic Qualification Event in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

That means that the Olympics will feature the following teams:

Men – Canada, Denmark, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, USA; women – Canada, China, Denmark, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, Russia (subject to International Olympic Committee decision), Sweden, Switzerland, USA.

***

Finally, this weekend also saw the Perth edition of the Asham Under-14 Slam take place at the Dewars Centre.

A total of 16 teams competed across four sections, before the High Road final was contested between Teams Chalmers and Maguire.

McGuire (Inca Maguire, Holly Wilkie-Milne, Laura Watt, Emma Allan) won 5-1 to clinch the title.

Team Muirhead rule Europe again as Scotland secure medal double

 

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GOLDEN GIRLS: Team Muirhead (Pic: British Curling/WCF/Richard Gray)

 

The good news just keeps coming for Scottish curling. Not bad timing with the Winter Olympics round the corner.

Having opened the National Curling Academy this year, Scottish rinks have made their impact at the World Mixed Curling Championships (gold for Team Hardie), the Grand Slam of Curling (National men’s title for Team Mouat)… and now the daddy of the lot.

Team Smith and Team Muirhead, Great Britain’s chosen ones for the Olympics, have returned from the European Championships with gold and silver medals after quite brilliant campaigns in St Gallen, Switzerland.

Team Muirhead party like it’s 2013

Four years ago, with just months to go until the Sochi Olympics, Team Muirhead won European Championship gold by beating Sweden in the final… and now they’ve done it again!

The 2017 vintage (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer (alternate), Glenn Howard (coach)) began their campaign with a defeat – to Sweden, 5-2 – but then rattled off six straight wins to qualify for the playoffs.

They saw off Russia (8-7), Denmark (6-1), Italy (8-1), Germany (8-5), Turkey (8-3) and the Czech Republic (8-4), before finishing the round robin with a loss to Switzerland (9-7 after an extra end) and victory against Hungary (9-3).

Coming third in the women’s standings meant a semi-final with second-placed Switzerland (Silvana Tirinzoni), and after stealing two in the third end, the Scots gave up three in the fourth.

A steal in end six moved the Swiss 4-2 ahead, but after exchanging singles Muirhead hit back with three in the ninth end, and then a steal in the 10th to win 7-5 and make the final.

They faced Team Hasselborg for the gold, with the Swedes looking to win their 11th straight match in St Gallen to take the title.

The rinks exchanged singles, with Sweden leading 2-1 at halfway, but an open hit for two in the sixth end put the Scots ahead, and steals in ends nine and 10 saw them win the match 6-3 – giving them their golden moment.

Medal breakthrough for Team Smith

On the men’s side, Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith, Glen Muirhead (alternate), Viktor Kjäll (coach)) were back at the Europeans, after previously representing Scotland in 2015.

It’s not been a vintage season so far for the rink, but they got off to a great start here, winning their first three round robin games – against Italy (7-3), Austria (7-3) and Russia (5-3).

That run came to a halt against Germany, as they lost 6-4, and then it was a case of ‘win one, lose one’ for the rest of the round robin, as defeats to Sweden (5-4) and Switzerland (9-4) were balanced out by victories over Slovakia (8-1), Ulsrud (8-7) and the Netherlands (5-2), as the Scots finished third in the standings on W6 L3.

That meant a semi-final with second-placed Switzerland, and what a yo-yo encounter it was, with the Scots stealing three in the second end but being pegged back to 5-5 at the fifth-end break.

The teams exchanged twos, before the Swiss stole in the eighth end to lead for the first time, 8-7, only for Smith to blank the ninth and score two in end 10 to make the final.

There they faced their near-constant nemesis, Team Edin of Sweden, who were looking for a fourth straight European title.

Early on, it looked like business as usual, with Sweden moving 3-0 ahead, but two in end four and a steal in the fifth drew the Scots level.

Two in the eighth end put them ahead, but the Swedes responded with two of their own in the ninth and then claimed a massive steal of four in the 10th to win 10-5 – a scoreline which did not reflect the closeness of the game.

Although it was not the colour of medal Team Smith wanted, it is still a first senior medal for the rink – and an ideal confidence boost ahead of the Olympics.

Bronze for Jackson

Away from the European Championships, but still in Switzerland, Team Jackson completed the set of medals for Scotland with bronze at the EJCT event in Thun.

Wins against Teams Ramsfjell, Tanner, Witschonke, Lo Deserto and Wuest sent them straight into the semi-finals, where they suffered their first defeat – against Team Danshina.

That meant a 3v4 match with Witschonke to finish, which they won to clinch the bronze medal.