Bryce and Muirhead continue consistent form with semi-final finishes

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SEMI-FINALISTS: Team Muirhead. Photo: British Curling/Graeme Hart (Perthshire Picture Agency)

It was a case of ‘close but no cigar’ for both of Teams Bryce and Muirhead at the weekend.

Bryce made the semi-finals at the Latvia International Challenger, only to lose out to Team Stjerne, while Muirhead also got to the last four at the GSOC Masters, where they were beaten by Team Einarson.

***

There were two Scottish teams at the second Grand Slam of the season, the Masters, with Team GB’s Olympic representatives taking on the world’s best in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.

Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) were in Pool B of the men’s event alongside Teams Gushue, McEwen, Shuster and Ulsrud.

Opening defeats to Gushue (7-6) and Ulsrud (7-6) put them on the back foot right away, and although they managed to beat US rink Shuster (6-2), defeat to McEwen (6-3) ended their playoff hopes.

The title was won by reigning world champions Gushue, who beat Team Edin of Sweden 8-4 in the final.

In the women’s field, Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) faced Teams Flaxey, Hasselborg, Sidorova and Sinclair in Pool A.

Wins against Sidorova (6-5) and Flaxey (7-6) got them off to an ideal start, and after a 6-4 loss to Sinclair, a 10-7 victory over Hasselborg secured their place in the knockout stages.

The quarter-finals pitted them against Team Pätz of Switzerland, with the Scots winning 5-4, thanks to two in end seven and a steal of one in the eighth.

But the last four proved their limit, as Canadians Einarson beat them 6-3 (with twos in ends three and six) – Muirhead’s conquerors finishing as runners-up to Jennifer Jones’ rink in the final (6-5).

Skip Eve Muirhead said: “Crowds have been great and to have such an atmosphere when playing is really something special; Canada really do know how to put on curling events!

“”Overall our two weeks have been a great success, beating three of the teams we are going to be coming up against in the Europeans and Korea, so this is all stepping stones towards these major events.”

***

The Latvia International Challenger involved Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle) on the men’s side, and Team Wilson (Maggie Wilson, Jennifer Marshall, Laura Barr, Eilidh Yeats) – plus English rink Team Farnell – on the women’s.

Both British women’s teams had their challenges ended early, with Farnell going W0 L4 and Wilson W1 L3 – their win coming against Team Rudzite of the home nation, 7-6 after an extra end.

Bryce did much better though, continuing their rich vein of form at the start of this season, as they made the playoffs with wins over Teams Bremanis (7-2), Lill (10-4), Truksans (7-1) and a loss to Hess (7-6).

Following their 7-4 victory over Team Gulbis in the last eight (stealing three in the second end), Bryce’s challenge was ended by experienced Danes Team Stjerne, who won 7-2 and went on to claim the title, while Bryce ended with a 7-3 defeat against Team Wunderer in the third place match.

***

Also this weekend, the Lanarkshire leg of the Asham Under-21 Slam took place.

After 24 teams faced off across six groups, the high road final was contested by Teams Craik and McCormack, with the former (James Craik, Angus Bryce, Matthew McKenzie, Niall Ryder) scoring four in the third end on their way to a 6-2 triumph.

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After a very busy day of curling we are pleased to say we have won the second leg of the Scottish U17s at Hamilton. A really tight performance throughout the day ment we won our Quarter Final Against Team Gallacher 5-1 and then followed it up in the semi with a win over Wilkie-Milne and then finally a win over Team McCormack 6-2 ment the slam was ours👍🏼 A massive thanks to our sponsors for all the support as it really makes competing in these slams so much easier for us. Up next we are back to U21s next weekend with the European Junior Curling Tour Event held in Braehead. Looking forward to pitching ourselves against several foreign teams and hoping to put in a strong performance. @fitbituk_ireland @foxglide @forfarindoorsports @ziyeninc

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Drummond make Champery Masters final

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Team Drummond. Photo: British Curling/Perthshire Picture Agency (Graeme Hart)

Team Drummond were the star performers from a Scottish point of view this week, making the final of the Champery Masters, where they lost out to Team Edin.

Teams Brewster and Mouat also did well in Switzerland, while Team Kinnear won the EJCT Oslo junior men’s title.

Over in Canada, Teams Muirhead and Smith warmed up for the next Grand Slam tournament of the season – the National – by competing in a couple of World Curling Tour events.

***

There were three Scottish rinks at the Champery Masters in Switzerland, and all three made the playoffs.

Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Duncan Menzies, Scott Andrews, Alasdair Schreiber) cruised through the round robin stage with a W5 L0 record – beating Teams Edin, Hess, Mancini, Retornaz and Schwaller.

Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) also topped their pool, thanks to wins over Teams Kauste, Snitil, Stjerne and Van Dorp, plus a loss to Smilga of Latvia.

And Team Drummond (Greg Drummond, Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon, Michael Goodfellow) topped Pool D, also with a W4 L1 record – overcoming Teams Baumann, Lottenbach, Pfister and Sik, and losing to Team Attinger.

Three became one following the quarter-finals, however, as Drummond beat Mouat 4-3, while Brewster exited at the hands of Van Dorp.

Drummond saw off the Dutch rink in the last four though, scoring four in end six in a 6-5 triumph.

That put them into a final against former world champions Edin, and it was the Swedes who moved ahead early on, scoring two in the second end and stealing one in the third.

Another two in end five gave the Scots too much to do, Edin winning 6-3 to claim the title.

This is, nonetheless, the most impressive performance so far this season from Drummond, after a slow start to the season, and one they’ll be looking to push on from.

Skip Drummond said: “The event was a great learning curve for our team.

“We were able to utilise Misha Botting’s sports psychology services over the course of the event and his input has provided a good base for us going forward.

“Playing Niklas Edin in the final was always going to be tough but it was a good test for our team at this stage in the season.

“We were just disappointed that we weren’t able to execute our game plan.”

***

Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith), meanwhile, were in Quebec for the ARENA Challenge de Curling de Gatineau.

As a warm-up for the GSOC Masters (October 24-29 in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, with Smith facing Gushue, Ulsrud, Shuster and McEwen), it was a short-lived one – only lasting four games.

Defeats to Chandler and Allen tipped Smith onto the C-Road, where they beat Homan but then lost to Murphy to depart the competition – which saw the title go to Rui Liu of China, thanks to an 8-2 victory over Team De Cruz in the final.

One to forget about from a Smith perspective.

***

Also in Canada, Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) were in action in the Canad Inns Women’s Classic in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Wins over Holland and McCarville put them within touching distance of the playoffs, only for Englot to beat them in the A-Road final.

Defeat to Carey put them on the C-Road, where the Scots got back to winning ways against Meilleur and Tirinzoni, but Einarson proved too strong in the C-Road final, winning 9-6 (despite threes from Muirhead in ends four and seven).

The competition was won by Team Roth of the USA, who beat Team Hasselborg 5-4 after an extra end in the final.

Muirhead, like Smith, are taking part in the Grand Slam in Lloydminster – they take on Sidorova, Flaxey, Sinclair and Hasselborg.

***

Back in Europe, there were three Scottish rinks at the EJCT Oslo event in Norway – with quite a contrast between the men’s and women’s outcomes.

Neither Team Bryce (Amy Bryce, Molly Keen, Layla Al-Saffar, Jane Barr) nor Team Morrison (Rebecca Morrison, Amy MacDonald, Hailey Duff, Leeanne McKenzie) were able to make it out of the group stage.

Bryce finished with a W1 L4 record, having beaten Moberg but lost to Dami (11-10, Bryce scoring six in the fourth end!), Tanner, Ramsfjell and Hoehne, while Morrison won two – against Mesloe and Norrlander – but lost three – to Halse, Loertscher and Keiser (the eventual winner of the event).

On the men’s side, however, Team Kinnear (Callum Kinnear, Duncan McFadzean, Ryan McCormack, Matthew McKenzie) got out of their section on W4 L1 – as they lost their opening game to Heinimann but then claimed victories over Nygren, Bjoernstad, Hermansson and Kringlebotn to make the playoffs.

There the wins just kept on coming, with Lochmann seen off 5-1 in the quarter-finals, and Ramsfjell 5-2 in the semis.

That means a rematch with Heinimann in the final, but there were no problems for Kinnear this time, as steals in ends three and five, then three in end seven, won them the match 6-1 and thereby the title.

The Kinnear rink were unfortunate not to make the playoffs at last season’s Scottish Championships, and here is more evidence of their exciting potential.

***

Finally, the Stirling Wheelchair International Invitational, at The Peak, saw eight of the world’s best wheelchair curling teams gather to compete.

Russia defeated Scotland 5-4 in the final, with Switzerland in third place.

Team Hardie win World Mixed title for Scotland

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CHAMPIONS: Scotland’s World Mixed Curling Championship winners (photo: facebook.com/TeamHardie)

Team Hardie delivered the World Mixed Curling Championship 2017 title for Scotland, defeating Canada 8-5 in the final in Switzerland.

It was a superb achievement for the Scots, who also defeated Sweden and the Czech Republic en route to the world crown.

Back in Scotland this weekend, Fraser Kingan and Jayne Stirling were surprise winners of the Scottish Curling Mixed Doubles Championship in Aberdeen.

***

Team Hardie (Grant Hardie, Rhiann Macleod, Billy Morton, Barbara McFarlane) were Scotland’s representatives at the World Mixed Curling Championship 2017 in Champéry, Switzerland, as one of 37 teams at the event.

They began with wins over Spain (9-7) and Ireland (9-2), but then lost their third match to Korea, 6-5, after giving up a steal in the eighth end.

Undeterred, the Scots then reeled off four straight wins (beating Denmark 10-4, Luxembourg 9-2, New Zealand 8-2 and Kazakhstan 8-1) to safely progress to the playoffs, where they faced a rematch with Spain in the last 16.

The other British teams at the event had mixed fortunes, with England (Andrew Woolston, Lesley Gregory, Martin Gregory, Kirsty Balfour) winning three and losing three in Group E to place fourth, and their last stone draw of 65.93cm qualified them for the last 16 – where they were edged out 6-5 by Norway.

Ireland (Alan Mitchell, Jacqueline Barr, Ross Barr, Clare McCormick) finished fourth in Group C on a W4 L3 record, only to miss the playoffs on last stone draw, while Wales (Adrian Meikle, Dawn Watson, Andrew Tanner, Laura Beever) came fifth in Group A with three wins and three defeats.

As for Scotland, they beat Spain 4-2 and then faced a quarter-final clash with Team Wranaa of Sweden, one of the favourites, and a fine team performance (with twos in ends one, three and seven) saw them win 7-4.

Now on a roll, Scotland beat the Czech Republic in the last four – 6-2, with twos in ends one, two and four – to set up a final showdown with Canada, skipped by Trevor Bonot.

After forcing the Canadians to one in the first end, Scotland took one in end two, stole two in the third end, and another one in the fourth, to lead 4-1.

Canada did pull it back, with two in end seven and a steal in the eighth, but Scotland kept their cool, making a double takeout to score three in the extra end – their 8-5 win giving them the world crown.

Skip Grant Hardie said: “The whole team played brilliant all week and especially the during the playoffs they came to the fore. I’m absolutely delighted.

“They [Canada] came at us really hard at the end. They’re obviously a great team to get to the final and we just managed to hold on.

“I’d thrown that line, four or five times in the game, so I was pretty confident but obviously with it being for the win you’re always a little on edge.

“I had the line and the guys swept it through to make it. It is absolutely brilliant.”

It’s a fantastic achievement for Team Hardie, who had no coach at the tournament (but plenty of travelling supporters!).

And for the skip, it’s the continuation of a great start to his season – having already won two events with Team Mouat – with plenty more to come.

***

With mixed doubles now an Olympic sport, there were Olympians aplenty at the Scottish Curling Mixed Doubles Championship at Curl Aberdeen – Scott Andrews, Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Michael Goodfellow and Claire Hamilton all Sochi 2014 participants.

Eighteen teams were split into three sections, with those groups being topped by Bobby Lammie/Rachel Hannen (W3 L2), Bruce Mouat/Gina Aitken (W5 L0) and Fraser Kingan/Jayne Stirling (W4 L1).

With Lammie/Hannen and Kingan/Stirling progressing straight to the semi-finals (on draw shot rankings), the quarters pitted Scott Andrews/Claire Hamilton against Euan Kyle/Naomi Brown and mixed doubles specialists Mouat/Aitken against mixed doubles specialists Judith and Lee McCleary.

Aitken/Mouat have won the last two Scottish Championship titles (four in all), but their 2017 challenge ended with an 8-5 loss to the McClearys, while Kyle/Brown won the other last eight clash 7-5.

Come the semi-finals, Lammie/Hannen beat Kyle/Brown 6-2, and Kingan/Stirling saw off McCleary/McCleary 7-3 (meaning there would be a first-time champion this year).

In the final, Lammie/Hannen got off to a flying start, scoring three in the first end, but singles in the next three ends drew Kingan/Stirling level at 3-3 at halfway.

The momentum was with Kingan/Stirling, and they blew the match open with a huge steal of four in the fifth end.

Although Lammie/Hannen pulled two back in the sixth, a further score of three sealed the win for Kingan/Stirling, 10-5.

Having qualified for the World Mixed Doubles, Stirling said: “I’m still a bit shocked actually, and obviously really, really excited.

“We’re starting to put together our preparations for going to the Worlds.”

Kingan added: “From now until Sweden we’ll be getting loads of practice in, and trying to enter some Mixed Doubles competitions in between times; hopefully that will give us the best chance to do well on a world stage.”

***

Finally, the Stevenson Trophy (Under-17 Slam) also took place this weekend, with 20 junior rinks taking part in Lockerbie.

After the round robin stage (five sections of four teams), and a quarter-final between Teams Middleton and Buchanan (won 13-4 by the former), the semi-finals brought wins for Team Craik over Middleton and Team Gallacher over Davie (both 5-4).

Craik (Angus Bryce, Matthew McKenzie, Niall Ryder, Ross Craik, Laura Watt) took the title, scoring three in end three and twos in the fifth and sixth ends to win 9-5 in the final against Gallacher.

Teams Fleming and McNay take the plaudits

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SMILES: Team Fleming. Pic: British Curling/Graeme Hart (Perthshire Picture Agency)

Team McNay emerged victorious at the Dumfries Open, while over in Switzerland Team Fleming reached the semi-finals of the Women’s Masters Basel.

The weekend also saw the Scottish Curling Senior Mixed Championship take place, and Scotland (Team Hardie) begin their campaign at the World Mixed Curling Championship.

***

The Women’s Masters Basel involved two Scottish rinks – Teams Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) and Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray).

Fleming took the simplest possible route to the playoffs, as wins over Witschonke, Norberg and Matsumura sent them straight into the quarter-finals.

Muirhead – the reigning champions – also began well, with victories against Widmer and Hegner, but a loss to Fujisawa (giving up three steals in the last four ends) knocked them down onto the B-Road.

A second defeat, to Sidorova, followed, but Muirhead then beat Widmer again and Sigfridsson to set up a last-eight clash with Fleming.

The all-Scottish match went Fleming’s way, as they scored twos in ends three and five and one in end eight to win 5-4, and Muirhead’s title defence was over.

Having put so much into that match, though, things rapidly fell apart for Fleming against Feltscher in the semi-finals… the Swiss rink winning 8-1.

The final went the way of Bingyu Wang’s rink, the Chinese team beating Feltscher 9-3 to claim the title.

For Hannah Fleming, who had not beaten Muirhead since 2013, this win (and overall tournament performance) will give her and her team-mates hope of narrowing the gap to their Scottish friends and rivals as the season goes on.

***

The second event in this year’s Goldline Scottish Curling Tour, the Dumfries Open, saw 10 teams take part – initially separated into two pools of five.

Team Jamieson topped Pool A with four straight wins, while Team Gallacher clinched Pool B and the other direct route into the semi-finals.

To see who would join them, Bryce met Taylor and McNay faced Pougher of Wales in the quarter-finals – which went the way of Bryce (8-3) and McNay (7-5).

Both of those rinks then won in the last four, Bryce seeing off Jamieson 7-4 and McNay breezing past Gallacher 7-1.

The final was a see-saw affair, with Bryce stealing their way into a 3-0 lead but McNay scoring three in the third end to level, before the teams traded singles up to end seven, where McNay scored two.

Bryce were forced to one in the eighth end, taking the game into an extra end, but McNay held hammer and scored one to win 7-6 – meaning it was they (Cameron McNay, David Baird, Robin McCall, Gavin Barr) who took the title.

***

The Scottish Curling Senior Mixed Championship was held at Stranraer Ice Rink over the weekend, again with 10 teams in two groups.

The round robin stage ended with Teams Adam, Cannon, Kesley and McQueen making the semi-finals.

There, Adam beat McQueen 9-2 and Cannon overcame Kesley 8-5, setting up a final which was won 6-5 after an extra end by Adam (Graeme Adam, Alison McLennan, Stuart Wilson, Carolyn Hibberd).

***

There were 16 teams involved in the first Asham Under-14 Slam of the season at intu Braehead.

The final saw Team Munro (Robyn Munro, Findlay Hare, Rory Dodds, Ben Kyle) beat Braehead Rockers 5-3 in four ends.

***

Finally, at the World Mixed Curling Championship 2017, in Champéry, Switzerland, Scotland (Grant Hardie, Rhiann Macleod, Billy Morton, Barbara McFarlane) have two wins and a loss so far.

They opened with wins over Spain and Ireland, only to then lose 6-5 after an extra end to Korea.

Their next match sees them face Denmark; you can stay up to date with the scores from the tournament here.

Team Bryce pick up second title of season at Braehead

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Team Bryce, Braehead Open winners. Pic: facebook.com/CurlingTeamBryce

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.

Still, a decent start for the team, ahead of their participation in the Avonair Cash Spiel next week.

Team Muirhead triumph as Scots shine in Canada

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HDF Insurance Shoot-out winners, Team Muirhead (pic: twitter.com/Team_Muirhead)

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.

All in all, coupled with Team Mouat’s double success in Oakville, it’s been a very promising start to the season for the Scots.

***

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.

Mouat double up with Oakville Fall Classic title

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Team Mouat with their second trophy in two weeks. Pic: facebook.com/teammouat

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!