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

TS_CurlingKyleSmith-8 - Pertshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart
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.

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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.

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Bryce and Jackson win Scottish Juniors

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Scottish Junior men’s champions Team Bryce (photo: facebook.com/CurlingTeamBryce)

Teams Bryce and Jackson will represent Scotland at the World Junior Curling Championships next month after winning the national titles in Aberdeen.

There was also success this weekend for Team Muirhead, who claimed a home victory at the Glynhill Ladies International, a Curling Champions Tour event in Braehead.

And Team Smith made the final at the German Masters in Hamburg, finishing as runners-up to Team Walstad of Norway.

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The Scottish Curling Junior Championship, hosted by Curl Aberdeen, saw Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle, Frazer Shaw) top the men’s round robin with seven wins from seven.

They defeated Teams McNay (8-2), Cormack (10-2), Whyte (7-5), Joiner (10-2), Carson (5-3), Craik (6-3) and Baird (7-3).

Team Whyte (Ross Whyte, Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean) finished second in the section on W6 L1, ahead of Teams Baird (David Baird, Fraser Kingan, Robin McCall, Gavin Barr) and McNay (Cameron McNay, James Baird, Fin Campbell, Angus Bryce) on W4 L3, who had to play a tiebreaker – won 8-6 by McNay after a steal of two in end 10.

On the women’s side, it was Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair), who went undefeated, with round robin victories against Teams Farmer (7-6), Aitken (14-5), MacDonald (8-4), Dandie (9-6), Keen (12-1) and Davie (9-4).

Behind them came Teams Davie (Lisa Davie, Kirsty Barr, Annabel Skuse, Emma Barr) and Aitken (Karina Aitken, Rebecca Morrison, Hailey Duff, Laura Barr), both on W4 L2 records.

In the 1v2 page playoff games, Bryce scored twos in ends seven and nine to beat Whyte 7-5, while Jackson roared into a 7-2 lead after five ends in overcoming Davie 8-6.

Whyte earned their third crack at Bryce by winning the men’s semi-final 7-4 against McNay, but it was Aitken who claimed the women’s match – defeating Davie 8-3.

The finals were both tight affairs. Bryce led Whyte 6-3 after five ends but their opponents forced the issue right to the end, Bryce having to take one in end 10 to win 9-7 and clinch the title.

The women’s final was even closer, as Aitken and Jackson traded singles up to 2-2 after six ends; Aitken then stole in end seven, but Jackson scored two in end nine to lead.

One from Aitken in end 10 forced an extra end, where Jackson scored one to take it 5-4 and claim a place at the World Juniors that they had qualified Scotland for this month.

Jackson’s third Naomi Brown said: “After such a nip and tuck game and following all the hard work that went into the World Bs this is probably the best feeling ever after this Scottish final.

“For a new team we have achieved such a lot together; I didn’t even know Mili at the start of the season and we have all gelled so well and held it together and kept the focus.

“I am really proud of all of my team mates and our coach Cate (Brewster) who is so much part of our team and our results today, it has made all of the hard work worthwhile.”

Bryce and Jackson will fly the Saltire in Gangneung, Korea, between February 16-26.

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The Glynhill Ladies International returned to Braehead for its 10th edition, with four Scottish teams among the 24-strong field.

The teams were divided into four sections, and Section A saw Teams Kubeskova (Czech Republic) and Wang (China) qualify – Team Aitken (Gina Aitken, Rowena Kerr, Rachael Halliday and Rachel Hannen) dropped short despite wins over Teams Tirinzoni (6-5) and Nielsen (7-3).

In Section B it was Teams Pätz and Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) who progressed, Muirhead having won against Kauste (8-4), Sveliga-Frynia (7-2), Wrana (6-3) and Pätz (9-3), and lost to Barbezat (4-1).

Section C saw Team Feltscher join Swiss compatriots Pätz in the last eight, but Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Nancy Smith (super sub)) just missed out after a 9-7 loss to Team Jentsch meant the Germans went through.

Fleming were then beaten 7-3 by Team Moiseeva in the Consolation competition semi-finals, Moiseeva finishing runner-up to Barbezat in that part of the event.

And Section D was topped by Team Sigfridsson of Sweden and Team Hegner of Switzerland – with Team Smith (Hazel Smith, Sarah Reid, Laura Ritchie, Claire Hamilton) going out on a W2 L3 record.

Muirhead faced Feltscher in the last eight and scored twos in ends three, four and seven to overcome the Swiss 8-3.

The semi-finals pitted them against Hegner, and this match was won 7-5, the Scots stealing two in end three and scoring three in end six.

And they faced Swiss opposition once again in the final, in the form of Pätz.

Muirhead scored twos in ends two and four to lead 4-3 at halfway, before steals of three in end five and one in end six handed them the win 8-3 and their first Glynhill title.

Skip Eve Muirhead told British Curling: “Alina [Pätz] won last week in Switzerland when we didn’t have such a good week, so for us to bounce back from that after a lot of good chats with our coaches and all our support staff, we had a few key things to work on and to focus on and I think we did that really well.

“To get a Scottish winner’s always nice, and there was a lot of support in here. I was really impressed with the numbers that came along.”

***

There were also four Scottish rinks involved in the German Masters in Hamburg, and while Teams Brewster and Murdoch went out early on W1 L2 records, there was more success for Teams Mouat and Smith.

Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) were in Pool B, and won three straight matches – versus Teams Brunner (6-4), Rui Liu (7-2) and Retornaz (7-4).

Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Derrick Sloan, Gregor Cannon), in Pool E, lost their opener 6-3 to Team Walstad of Norway, but hit back by defeating Teams Wunderer (8-4) and Baumann (7-5).

Smith, having topped their group, had two chances to qualify for the quarter-finals and after losing the first 5-4 to Walstad after an extra end, they won the second 7-4 against Team Bottcher of Canada.

Mouat joined them in the quarter-finals after pipping the colourful trouser enthusiasts of Norway, Team Ulsrud, 6-5.

In the last eight, Smith scored four in end four in beating the Swiss De Cruz rink 6-4, but Mouat gave up a four in end six versus Walstad to lose 8-3 and exit the competition.

Come the semi-finals, Smith faced Team Timofeev of Russia, and having scored two in end two, they took their ones when they needed to, winning 4-2.

That set up a final with Walstad, the Norwegians having been something of a nemesis so far for the Scottish rinks.

And so it proved again. Walstad stole one in end four, but Smith stole in end six to level it up at 3-3.

But a three for the Norwegians in end seven proved the game-winner, as they took the title 6-3 – having won every game played in Hamburg – with Smith as worthy runners-up.

Team North America win Continental Cup, Team Tirinzoni win Glynhill International

Curling’s Ryder Cup equivalent, the Continental Cup, was contested in Las Vegas – and it was Team North America who again took the title… though Team World ensured it went down to the wire. And there was another trophy for Team Tirinzoni…

Six men’s and six women’s teams from across the globe competed across four days of team, mixed doubles and skins games, each worth a certain point value in the race to 30.5 points.

Team North America were represented by Teams Koe, Simmons (both Canada) and Shuster (USA) on the men’s side, Teams Homan, Jones (both Canada) and Brown (USA) on the women’s.

As for Team World, their men’s teams were Zang (China), Ulsrud (Norway) and Edin (Sweden), while Ogasawara (Japan), Muirhead (Scotland) and Pätz (Switzerland) made up the female side.

The opening round of team matches featured an extraordinary, topsy-turvy game between Teams Homan and Muirhead – Muirhead’s Scots sprinted into a 4-0 lead after three ends, Homan fought back and scored five in end seven when Eve Muirhead flashed twice, but Muirhead then secured the two in end eight that tied the game 8-8 and earned the teams a half point each.

Teams North America and World tied at 1.5 points apiece, it was onto the mixed doubles.

Thomas Ulsrud and Vicki Adams defeated Ben Hebert and Emma Miskew 8-6 (see that match below), and Torger Nergard and Eve Muirhead tied thanks to a three in end eight, but Christoffer Svae and Anna Sloan were beaten, so it was now three all.

The next team round saw Team World get two points to North America’s one (with wins for Edin and Zang), but Team North America were back ahead as Homan, Jones and Shuster swept the board in the third team round at the start of day two.

But Team World edged the second mixed doubles round, with wins for Pätz/Sundgren and Winkelhausen/Xu, and then it was their turn to pick up the maximum three points in the team round, Team Muirhead beating Brown 6-2 alongside wins for Edin and Ulsrud – that meant Team World led 10-8 at the end of day two.

Day three began with the third and final mixed doubles round, and the Continental Cup organisers decided to ditch the shot clock and music between points that gave the first two rounds added novelty factor but also seemed to confuse the competitors… good on them for experimenting, with mixed doubles on the up, but it needs more thought.

With these mixed doubles games worth two points, momentum was with Team World – Sarah Reid and Havard Vad Petersson getting one of their two wins as they went 14-8 up – only for Jill Officer to make a great shot that clawed Team North America back to 14-10… it arguably acted as a turning point in the competition.

In the fifth team round, Jones defeated Muirhead as the Scots gave up a steal in end eight to lose 6-5, while Brown beat Ogasawara and Simmons tied with Ulsrud.

After the sixth team round – with wins for Homan and Koe for North America, Ulsrud for World – Team World’s lead was trimmed to 15.5-14.5 going into the final day, though Team North America would be without the Homan rink, who had to leave Vegas for the Ontario Scotties.

Day four was all about skins games (rules explained here). Ulsrud v Simmons (mixed) and Ogasawara v Brown (women’s) both finished 2.5 points apiece, but Shuster got three to Zang’s two in the men’s game to draw the sides level at 22.5-22.5.

So, unlike last year where Team Canada steamrollered to victory, it came down to the final skins games with both sides having a genuine chance of lifting the Continental Cup.

Team Edin played a fine men’s game against Team Koe, winning 4-1 after a draw to the button for the last 2.5 points, but Team Muirhead gave up steals in ends four and seven to lose 4-1 to Team Jones in the women’s match.

That meant the result hung on the Torger Nergard v John Morris mixed skins game. Morris started strong, Nergard’s team fought back, but in end eight Morris had the chance for two and the point Team North America needed for the cup… which he made!

So near yet so far for Team World, as the recent North American dominance of this event continues.

But with high quality games in a more relaxed atmosphere than the Grand Slams or major championships, it was a superb showcase of how fun and yet also tense curling can be. And an attendance of 62,524 (a US record) is perhaps the biggest positive of all for the sport.

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In Scotland, the Glynhill Ladies International took place in Braehead – read about Alan Sloan and his team of organisers here.

The Scottish teams taking part were the rinks of Gina Aitken, Karina Aitken, Hannah Fleming, Lauren Gray, Sophie Jackson and Katie Murray.

Murray made a fast start, with wins over Barbezat (6-2), Driendl (7-6) and Lundman (7-1), but defeats to Sidorova (8-3) and Hegner (6-4) saw them finish just shy of a quarter-final spot.

In fact none of the Scottish teams made the last eight, despite G. Aitken, Fleming, Gray and Jackson picking up a couple of wins apiece – Jackson’s 8-5 victory over Gray getting them third place in their section and a consolation competition place.

Team Östlund of Sweden won the consolation event, while the quarter-finals saw Team Tirinzoni beat fellow Swiss rink Maillard 8-2, Team Sigfridsson of Sweden defeat another Swiss rink, Hegner, 5-4, Russians Team Sidorova beat Team Nielsen of Denmark 6-4, and Team Wrana of Sweden see off Koreans Team Kim 7-1.

In the semi-finals, Tirinzoni beat Sidorova 7-3 and Sigfridsson saw off compatriots Wrana 8-5, which set up a repeat of the previous weekend’s Bernese Ladies Cup final.

And again it was Tirinzoni who emerged victorious (Sigfridsson being down to three players due to Maria Prytz being unwell), continuing their current hot streak with an 8-2 win and the Glynhill title.

***

The Dutch Masters Mixed Doubles also took place this weekend, with Scotland represented by Lee and Judith McCleary – one of 20 teams in five groups of four.

They topped their group, beating Switzerland’s first team 6-3, the third Dutch team 18-0 and then Belgium 16-0.

But in the quarter-finals they were drawn against the current World Mixed Doubles champions, Zsolt Kiss and Dorottya Palancsa of Hungary, and the Hungarians triumphed 7-5 to make the last four.

Ultimately it was Kiss and Palancsa who won the Dutch Masters title, beating Russia’s Petr Dron and Victoria Moiseeva 10-6 in the final.