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.
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.
Edin went on to claim their third Grand Slam title of the season, defeating Team McEwen 5-3 in the men’s final with steals in ends seven and eight.
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.
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.
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.
Then from April 22-29 we have the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and World Senior Curling Championship, both in Lethbridge, Canada.
Scotland are represented by Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat at the World Mixed, and by Team Drysdale (men’s) and Team Lockhart (women’s) for the World Seniors.