That didn’t take long, did it? One week, two events, two Scottish wins in World Curling Tour events.
We’re barely into September, but a slightly altered Team Bryce and a rather more different Team Mouat have already secured their first titles, in Tallinn and Oakville, respectively.
With our first Grand Slam of the season just around the corner, here’s hoping that Scottish curling can carry this initial form further into the season.
Bryce rise to the challenge
While four Scottish teams headed west to Canada, Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle) went east to Estonia, for the Tallinn Challenger.
They cruised through the round robin stage, finishing with four wins (against Teams Truksans, Lill, Svensgaard and Jungen) and no defeats.
They faced Team Eremin (Russia) in the last four, and a 7-3 win put them into the final against Team Gulbis of Latvia.
Again Bryce were just too strong for their opponents, scoring three in end three and stealing two in the fourth on their way to a 7-2 victory and the Tallinn Challenger title.
Skip Cameron Bryce told British Curling: “The whole team played really well, although we are still learning with our change of line-up for the season.”
The team now return to the new National Curling Academy, to prepare for the Braehead Open (September 22-24).
Mouat takes Tankard triumph
Teams Brewster, Drummond, Mouat and Smith ensured Scotland was well represented at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard in Ontario, but it was Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) who finished top of the pile.
I said in my season preview that I was excited to see what these boys could do on tour this season… it looks like I have my answer already.
Things were not so rosy for Team Drummond, though, as they lost to Mouat, McCormick and Deruelle to bow out early.
It’s early days for this rink, certainly, but they will be hoping for more at next week’s GSOC Tour Challenge (Tier 2).
Team Brewster have also rung the changes, and they had something of a rollercoaster in Oakville – a defeat to Fournier to drop onto the B-Road, wins over Corbett and Kim, a loss to Clark, victory over Stjerne, and finally a defeat to McCormick to end their involvement.
Team Smith, by contrast, have kept the same roster (only adding Glen Muirhead as alternate ahead of the Olympics), and they made the quarter-finals in Oakville.
Not that it was a smooth journey. Beaten by Kim first up, they then saw off Zou and Horgan, lost to Simmons to land on the C-Road, but then overcame Fournier and Gunnlaugson to make the playoffs.
Those quarter-finals pitted them against Mouat, who had sailed into the last eight thanks to four straight wins – against Ainsley, Drummond, Horgan and Clark.
Mouat dominated the all-Scottish meeting, taking three in end one, then a steal, and then twos in ends four and six to win it 8-3.
Mouat’s semi-final was tighter, but one in end eight was enough to see off Horgan, setting up a final against Kim of Korea.
The Korean rink scored three in end four to lead 3-1, but twos in ends five and seven, plus a steal in the eighth, gave Mouat a 6-4 victory – making it W7 L0 at the event.
For this team to have gelled this quickly is highly impressive, especially given the quality of the other teams on show.
So that’s $8,000 in the bank for Mouat already; their next event is the Oakville OCT Fall Classic (alongside Brewster) – can they maintain their hot streak?
THE CHOSEN ONES: Great Britain’s men’s and women’s curlers for Pyeongchang 2018 (Team Muirhead and Team Smith). Pic: British Curling/Graeme Hart
Who said anything about a quiet summer break?
There have been some huge changes in the landscape of Scottish curling over the last few months.
There’s the personnel changes, of course.
David Murdoch’s playing days are over, with one of the stalwarts of the Scottish game retiring from competitive curling and switching to coaching.
The subsequent reshuffles have thrown up some intriguing team combinations for the new season.
Murdoch’s third Greg Drummond has moved up to skip, piloting a rink which also consists of Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon and Michael Goodfellow.
Heading in the opposite direction to Paterson is Scott Andrews, who joins an all-new Team Brewster, with Tom Brewster also welcoming Duncan Menzies and Alasdair Schreiber to his quartet.
Team Bryce have added Ross Whyte to their roster, while Bruce Mouat’s new rink has a bit of a rockstar look to it.
Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan are all on board – it’s a team packed with talent, so I’m excited to see what they can do in Scotland and on tour this year.
There are changes on the women’s side too, notably Sochi 2014 medallist Claire Hamilton coming into skip Gina Aitken’s team – Aitken moving to third in place of Rowena Kerr.
Some teams have stuck with the same formula of course, including the rinks selected to represent Great Britain at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (oh yes, it’s an Olympic year!) – Team Muirhead and Team Smith.
There have of course been changes outside of the teams themselves, including the opening of the National Curling Academy in Stirling, which will hopefully see Scotland/Britain keep up with the world’s top – and emerging – curling nations.
The Curling Champions Tour and World Curling Tour have merged, and – closer to home – it’s good news to see the Scottish Curling Tour expand and gain a swanky new website.
Scotland (Aberdeen to be exact) will host the 2018 World Junior Championships, which can hopefully build on the interest generated by the Olympics (the countdown to #lovecurling trending again is underway…) the month before.
The Olympics have pulling power that individual winter sports can only dream of, so it’s vital that curling (Scottish curling in particular) uses its events this year to draw more fans, and maybe the next generation of players, to the game.
This weekend sees things move up a gear. The first Grand Slam event of the season is on the horizon – the Tour Challenge (Tiers 1 and 2), on September 5-10 – and so there are four Scottish rinks over in Canada.
Victory in Oakville (in the Oakville OCT Fall Classic) was one of the highlights in an impressively consistent (also consistently impressive) season which saw them get the nod for the Olympics.
How will they handle that extra pressure as Pyeonchang approaches? They’re still a young team, but they’ve been together for a long time and they know how to beat the world’s best.
Eve Muirhead has described an Olympic appearance (and medal) as putting a target on your back, and we’ll get our first chance to see the Team GB women at the Tour Challenge in Regina, where Team Fleming will also compete.
Excited yet? You should be. The changes over the summer simply add another dynamic to what promises to be a thrilling Olympic season.
It’s been a packed end to the season, with the good (Team Smith’s European Masters win, bronze for Scotland women at World Seniors) mixed with the bad (Scotland/GB missing out on Olympic Mixed Doubles).
Here’s a quick round-up of how the 2016-17 season has come to its conclusion.
Firstly to St Gallen, where the European Masters involved three Scottish men’s teams – Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan), Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith).
Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Vicky Wright, Alice Spence) were the sole Scots on the women’s side, but after two wins in the opening two matches versus Teams Schöpp (6-4) and Thompson (6-5) they lost their three remaining group matches to miss out on the final.
Not the results we wanted at the European masters but a great event none the less,Thanks to the organisers. Our season done is for 16/17
In the men’s event, it wasn’t a great tournament for Murdoch, as they only picked up one win from seven round robin games – 7-4 against Team Walstad.
Team Brewster did rather better, with wins against Murdoch (8-2), Pfister (5-3), Walstad (10-1) and McCormick (4-2) qualifying them for the 3v4 game versus McCormick, which the Scots won 4-2.
The best performance, though, came from Team Smith, who won four of their round robin matches – against Pfister (5-4), Murdoch (7-5), Brewster (7-3) and McCormick (8-5) – to edge by Brewster to make the final.
There they faced the ever-menacing Team Edin, and Smith finally got one over on the serial Slam-winning Swedes, as two in end four and one in end eight saw them pinch it 5-4.
The Champions Cup – for teams who have won major competitions during the season – took place in Calgary, Alberta, and involved three Scottish rinks – Teams Brewster and Hardie (Grant Hardie, Blair Fraser, David Reid, Duncan Menzies) on the men’s side, and Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) on the women’s.
Neither men’s team could progress from the round robin, with Brewster taking a win against Team Morozumi (9-3) but being beaten by Teams Laycock (5-4), McEwen (9-1) and Gushue (6-3).
Had a blast at the Grand Slam last week in Calgary… we'll be working hard to be back next season! A huge thank… https://t.co/Kwh6SOA4pV
Hardie, meanwhile, lost all four games – against Teams De Cruz (8-1), Carruthers (6-3), Jacobs (8-6) and Morris (6-3) – but this was undoubtedly a helpful experience for the team in a Slam environment.
The men’s title went the way of Team Jacobs, who overcame Team Koe 6-2 in the final.
Muirhead also missed out on the women’s playoffs – beating Flaxey (9-4) but losing to Pätz (7-2), Jones (7-6) and Wrana (6-2).
Well that's a wrap from Team Muirhead on the 16/17 season! Looking forward to time off and hard work over the next months…keep you posted! pic.twitter.com/o3TtOgHdCM
The women’s final was contested by Teams Homan and Hasselborg, with Homan scoring two in end eight to pinch it 5-4.
The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Lethbridge, Canada, saw Scotland represented by Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat.
They swept the round robin, with victories over Norway (6-3), Bulgaria (10-3), Ireland (8-5), Wales (11-2), Serbia (11-0), Denmark (8-2) and Italy (8-4).
Also in Scotland’s group, Ireland (Alison Fyfe and Neil Fyfe) won four and lost three (beating Serbia 10-2, Denmark 7-3, Bulgaria 11-4 and Wales 11-2, but losing to Italy 5-4, Scotland and Norway 10-4), with Wales (Dawn Watson and Adrian Meikle) coming in on W2 L5 (winning against Serbia 11-3 and Denmark 9-7, but defeated by Norway 6-2, Scotland, Italy 9-8, Ireland and Bulgaria).
England (Anna Fowler and Ben Fowler) just missed out on qualifying from the round robin, finishing on a W4 L3 record (beating France 8-5, Kazakhstan 17-2, Turkey 10-5 and Germany 9-6, but losing to the USA 7-2, the Czech Republic 6-4 and Canada 7-6).
The quarter-finals saw Ireland face Korea, losing 6-3, while Scotland – despite winning their group – faced Canadians Joanne Courtney and Reid Carruthers, and they were beaten 8-3 after giving up four in end seven.
Now scrambling to qualify for the Olympics, Aitken and Mouat faced Sweden – and scored four in end four as they beat them 9-2 – while the Irish pair lost to Russia 7-5.
It was the Russians Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii up next for Scotland, and again Aitken/Mouat lost to a very strong opponent, 6-5, as Russia scored singles in ends one, three, four, six, seven and the extra to edge a tight match.
Scotland had to beat Italy next and hope. They did that, 7-5, but Norway’s win over Finland denied them a spot at Pyeongchang 2018, with just two points in it on the ranking system.
Sport is seldom ‘fair’, and Scotland had the misfortune to face Canada and Russia after a flawless round robin.
What would seem flawed is a qualification process that places so much emphasis on a couple of games at one event, over the hard work and consistent tournament success of a Scottish duo who have spent the last four years working towards an Olympic spot, and were clearly heartbroken to fall short.
Switzerland, who went unbeaten through the championship, beat Canada 6-5 in the final to win gold, with China taking silver.
Lethbridge also hosted the World Senior Curling Championships, with Scotland represented by Ian Drysdale, David McQueen, Ronald Wilson, Graham Lindsay and Andrew Hemming (alternate) in the men’s event.
They finished the round robin with a W3 L3 record, as they saw off Finland 6-3, England 4-2 and Russia 12-2, but were beaten by Canada (7-2), Wales (6-4) and New Zealand (5-2)).
That meant a tiebreaker against Wales (Adrian Meikle, Richard Pougher, Chris Wells, Gary Waddell, Alistair Reid (alternate)), who had also won three and lost three, and again the Welsh came out on top, 5-4 this time, to put the Scots out.
England men (Thomas Campbell, Philip Barton, Mike Spain, Alastair Fyfe) ended up on W1 L5, with Ireland men (Peter Wilson, Johnjo Kenny, Bill Gray, David Whyte, David Hume (alternate)) on W5 L2.
Wales beat Israel 8-6 to make the last eight, but there they succumbed 8-1 to Canada; Ireland, though, qualified for the quarter-finals with a 5-4 win over Denmark.
Canada proved too strong for the Irish in the semi-finals, winning 5-2, but the Irish did secure bronze with a 6-3 win over Germany in the 3v4 game, while Sweden pipped Canada to gold.
As for the women’s competition, Scotland (Jackie Lockhart, Christine Cannon, Isobel Hannen, Margaret Richardson, Janet Lindsay (alternate)) qualified from Group B with five wins (against the Czech Republic (9-2), Slovakia (15-1), Australia (9-1), Finland (7-6 after an extra end) and Switzerland (8-4)) and one loss (versus the USA (6-4)).
England women (Judith Dixon, Val Saville, Helen Forbes, Deborah Higgins) were W3 L4 for the event, with Ireland women (Carolyn Hibberd, Marie O’Kane, Louise Kerr, Clare McCormick) W1 L6.
Scotland, having finished second in their group to the USA, had to beat Russia to make the last four, which they did 10-0.
Their semi-final pitted them against Colleen Jones’ Canada, and it was the host country who emerged victorious with a two in end eight to win 5-3.
Canada took gold and Switzerland silver, and Scotland ensured they joined them on the podium by beating the USA 8-5 (scoring four in end five) in the bronze medal match.
Skip Lockhart said: “It feels really good to get a medal and to go back with something after not playing quite the ‘A’ game we wanted against Canada.
“We had to fight really hard for that. It’s been a tough week but every medal makes the season worthwhile and we’ve still got years to play in seniors, so…bring it on.”
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.
Not our best performance but good enough to get the win… we now play De Cruz at 3 30 a win guarantees our spot in the playoffs!
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.
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.
After an opening game loss to Sweeting last night, Skipper took on a Cricket eating bushtucker trial and we got a win this afternoon v Jones pic.twitter.com/a5N9762iNb
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.
1/4 final finish for us at this years @grandslamcurl Players Champs. Huge thanks to all involved putting on a first class job as per!#GSOC
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.
‘International‘ was the key word in this weekend’s Curling Champions Tour event in Perth, as none of the eight teams making it into the knockout stages were Scottish.
In the end Team Flaxey of Canada defeated Team Tirinzoni of Switzerland in the final to take the prize at the Dewars Centre.
More on that later, after a quick check on Team Murdoch’s early form at the World Men’s Curling Championship…
Scotland are represented at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship in Edmonton, Canada, by Team Murdoch – David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow, Ross Paterson (alternate), Ian Tetley (coach).
Their opening match pitted them against Norway – for once not represented by Thomas Ulsrud’s rink, as Steffen Walstad’s quartet qualified in their place.
The Norwegians scored two in end two and three in end four, but the Scots grabbed two in the third end, two in the fifth and a steal in the sixth to tie it up at 5-5.
Twos in ends seven and 10, though, gave the game to Norway 9-6.
The Scots bounced back to W1 L1 against the USA – which was a tight game up to the eighth end, as the teams traded ones and twos, but a disastrous end eight from the Americans handed Scotland the chance to score five, which they made to win 9-4.
They followed that up with a 7-4 win over Japan, scoring twos in ends three and five, and stealing one in end six.
So with Canada topping the early standings on W3 L0, Scotland are one of six teams on W2 L1.
Back to Scotland, and the EDF Energy City of Perth Ladies International, which involved 24 teams from across the world – eight of those Scottish.
None of the home nation’s representatives made it beyond the round robin stage – though Team Smith came closest, as they finished alongside Teams Tippin (Canada) and Wrana (Sweden) on W3 L2 in Section A, but the Canadians’ draw shot was better – just – so they progressed to the last eight alongside Team Tirinzoni of Switzerland.
Teams Flaxey (Canada) and Feltscher (Switzerland) qualified from Section B at the expense of the Scottish rinks of Karina Aitken and Hannah Fleming, plus Anna Fowler’s English team.
Section C featured Teams Gina Aitken and Muirhead – the latter having just won Worlds bronze in Beijing of course – but neither could finish in the top two in the group, as Teams Middaugh (Canada) and Sinclair (USA) made it through instead.
Finally, Section D saw Teams Fukisawa (Japan) and Fleury (Canada) progress.
Saturday night’s quarter-finals saw wins for Teams Flaxey (6-5 over Fleury), Feltscher (4-3 versus Fukisawa), Tirinzoni (8-4 over Sinclair) and Tippin (4-2 against Middaugh).
Two Canadian rinks and two Swiss made it Sunday’s matches then, where Flaxey scored three in end four, two in end seven and one in the eighth to beat Tippin 7-4, while the all-Swiss semi went to Tirinzoni 6-3, largely thanks to a steal in end two and two in end six.
The final began with four blank ends from Tirinzoni (who, it must be pointed out, were playing with only three players, so did incredibly well to make the final!), before Flaxey stole one in end five.
After the teams traded twos Tirinzoni was forced to one in end eight, meaning an extra end – where Flaxey (Alli Flaxey, Clancy Grandy, Lynn Kreviazuk, Morgan Court) used hammer advantage to score two and win the game 5-3 to clinch the Champions Curling Tour event title.
Finally, there were two other events in Scotland this weekend, starting with the National Virtual Club Challenge on Saturday in Braehead.
Sixteen teams took part, leading to a high road final between Stirling and Dundee 2 – which Dundee 2 (Neil Mackintosh, Steven Lafferty, George Dewar, Ally Donald, Jenni Lyall) won 4-1 to take the spoils.
Then on Sunday it was the Newcomers Trophy at Greenacres.
Twelve teams were involved, divided into purple and green sections, before a high road final contested by Teams Ryder and Maxwell – with the latter (Jay Maxwell, Callum McLain, Erin Furey) winning that decider 3-0 for the silverware.
Scotland’s Team Muirhead ended a see-saw week at the World Curling Championships with a bronze medal, a positive outcome from a competition that had seen Team Homan prove just too good for everyone else.
At one point the Scots looked unlikely to even make the playoffs, so for them to add another international medal to the Muirhead mantelpiece was a big plus ahead of next year’s Olympic Games.
Also this weekend, the Dumfries Mixed Doubles took place, with Camilla and Per Noreen of Sweden coming out on top.
Twelve teams battled it out at the 2017 World Women’s Curling Championships in Beijing, with playoff and Olympic qualification at stake.
Scotland (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer (alternate), Glenn Howard (coach)) had a dramatic start to the week, stealing ones in end 10 and then the extra end to beat the USA 9-8.
But after that point they struggled to find momentum. They went down to a surprise 7-6 defeat against Italy, and although they hit back by beating Russia 10-7 (scoring three in end one and stealing four in end four) and Denmark 7-2, they then suffered three successive defeats – against Sweden 7-3, Korea 10-6 and Canada 8-2.
Sitting at W3 L4, it was win or bust for Scotland from here on. They overcame the hosts China – who had a surprisingly poor week in front of their home crowd, only winning twice – by an 8-6 scoreline, and suddenly it was back on.
Switzerland, who started the week well but faded, were the Scots’ next victims, beaten 7-4 with a three in end nine and steal of one in the 10th, and once Germany were dispatched 7-2 the Muirhead rink found themselves one win away from making the playoffs alongside runway leaders Canada (W11 L0 in the round robin), Russia and Sweden.
The Czech Republic stood in their way, a team eyeing up a playoff spot themselves – the Czechs scored twos in ends five and seven to lead into the 1oth, but a superb draw behind a centre guard from skip Eve Muirhead, and a miss from counterpart Anna Kubeskova, set up the peel for two – which Muirhead made to win it 7-6.
That ensured Olympic qualification for Scotland (as Team GB) for Pyeongchang 2018, and after a Friday off the Scots faced Sweden in the 3v4 page playoff, a must-win match with a semi-final against Russia the reward for the victor.
It was Sweden (Team Hasselborg) who grabbed that chance, stealing one in end two and going on to score two in end six and three in end eight to win 8-5 and extinguish Scottish hopes of making the final.
But the two teams met again in the bronze medal match, Sweden having lost the semi to Russia, and it was third time lucky for Muirhead against Hasselborg in Beijing.
The teams traded ones and twos up to end nine, where Muirhead claimed a steal of one – and then did the same in end 10, both times forcing Anna Hasselborg to play tough, tough final stones and therefore winning it 6-4.
Taking a medal from a tough field was a good result for the Scots, skip Muirhead saying: “We’re absolutely delighted and that was a really strong team performance.
“We really wanted that medal. It’s been a tough week, with a lot of ups and a lot of downs so to come away with a medal is really quite satisfying.
She added: “That was my first bronze, I’ve got world gold, silver and bronze now, so I’m delighted and it’s good to have a solid Worlds going into the Olympic Games.
“It takes a lot to come back and win bronze, it’s one of the toughest medals for a team to win.
“We’d be too greedy if we thought we should have had more this week, because I think the two best teams are in the final.”
The final saw Canada’s Team Homan do what no other side had done at a World Women’s Championships – go the entire week undefeated.
Russia (Team Sidorova) could not stay with them, giving up a two in end two, a steal of one in end three and then three in end six.
A two for Russia in end seven brought it back to end 6-3, but they knew it wasn’t their day when skip Anna Sidorova didn’t release her final stone of end eight before the hog-line and Rachel Homan drew in for two and an 8-3 victory that sealed the gold medals.
Back in Scotland, a Curling Champions Tour event – the Dumfries Mixed Doubles – was taking place, with 24 teams participating.
Sorted into four pools of six teams, there was good British representation – with English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh pairings involved – but only the mixed doubles big-hitters of Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat (first in Pool C, with a W5 L0 record), and Judith and Lee McCleary (second in Pool B, W3 L2) made the knockout stages.
Good win this morning vs Turto/Turto but a loss this afternoon means we're knocked out on 1-4 @Benwfowler#teamFowler
The two remaining Scottish rinks met head-on in the quarter-finals, and on this occasion it was the McClearys who came out on top, stealing one in end three then scoring three in end five and four in end seven to triumph 9-3.
But McCleary/McCleary fell in the semi-finals, as Swedish pair Camilla and Per Noreen took two with hammer in end eight to win 6-5.
The McClearys did claim third, though, stealing one in the first end, scoring two in the third and stealing another one in end six on their way to beating Anastasia Bryzgalova/Alexander Krushelnitsky of Russia 6-3.
Noreen/Noreen took the title, scoring four in end four as they defeated Irantzu Garcia/Gontzal Garcia Vez (Spain) 7-3 in the final.
A busy weekendsaw the start of the World Women’s Curling Championship, as well as events in Scotland, Europe and Canada.
Team Hardie were the standout success, winning the Aberdeen International event, while there was also bronze for Team Aitken/Mouat in their latest mixed doubles endeavour.
But first to Beijing, where Scotland women have had a rollercoaster start…
The 2017 World Women’s Curling Championship sees Scotland represented, once again, by Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer (alternate), Glenn Howard (coach)).
Two days in and, at time of writing, three games played – Scotland sit on a W2 L1 record.
They began against the USA, and after a three in end one, they were hauled back to 3-3 after four, only to answer with another three in end five.
But they then gave up five points over the next three ends, to trail 8-6, and were forced to one in the ninth.
But steals of one in end 10 and the extra end saw them snatch a 9-8 victory.
The outcome from their next match was less positive, as they were shocked by an inexperienced Italian team.
Diana Gaspari’s rink scored three in end seven and two in end nine, meaning the Scots needed three in end 10 to force an extra – an opportunity opened up but the shot was missed, so Italy won 7-6.
Scotland needed to bounce back quickly and did so, overcoming Team Sidorova of Russia, always a strong force at these championships.
Again the Scots started well with three in end one, and a steal of four in end four saw them lead 8-1.
Russia fought back, creeping up to only trail 8-5, but ones in ends eight and 10 got the job done for the Muirhead rink, who face Denmark and Sweden in Monday’s action.
The early pace-setters as of Sunday – Canada, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, all W3 Lo from the first two days.
Back in Scotland, and a Curling Champions Tour event – the Aberdeen International Curling Championship – had drawn a high quality field.
In a triple knockout format, the A-Road qualifiers were Team McEwen of Canada (defeating Team Stjerne (Denmark) 10-3 in the A-Road final) and the Scots of Team Murdoch (who overcame Team Ulsrud of Norway 7-6 to qualify).
Murdoch’s compatriots were having a tougher time of it, as it was Teams Deruelle (Canada) and Eskilsson (Sweden) who made the quarter-finals via the B-Road, meaning that Teams Brewster, Bryce, Craik, Hardie, Hutcheon, Mouat (minus their skip – more on him later), Smith and Whyte all ended up on the C-Road.
Of those, only Hardie and Whyte (thanks to a win over Ulsrud) made the C-Road finals, and while Hardie defeated Stjerne 4-3 to make the last eight, Whyte lost 10-5 to Team Schwaller of Switzerland.
Schwaller claimed another Scottish scalp on the Sunday, beating Murdoch 5-2 in their quarter-final, leaving Hardie – 7-2 winners over Deruelle – as the last Scots standing.
In the semi-finals they faced McEwen – serial Grand Slam champions and recently bronze medal winners at the Brier… not that any of that fazed Hardie, as they stole one in end one and two in end four, before adding three in end six to clinch it 7-3.
Hardie faced Team Liu of China in the final, and after the teams traded ones, it was the Scots who claimed two in end three, then forcing Liu to one in four and scoring another two in end five – which proved enough as the next two ends were blanked and they ran their opponents out of stones in the eighth to claim victory 5-2.
So congratulations Grant Hardie, Blair Fraser, Duncan Menzies and David Reid, the team having had another good season – just missing out on playoffs at the Scottish Championships again, but proving they can mix it with the best by claiming another Scottish Curling Tour title.
There was more Scottish success overseas, as Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat took bronze at the Westbay Hungarian Mixed Doubles Cup.
They cruised through their group with four wins from four – beating Szekeres/Nagy 8-7 (after an extra end), Sykorova/Misun 9-0, Morand/Borini 14-4 and Florek/Herman 9-3.
Also competing in Budapest were Judith and Lee McCleary, who also won their opening four matches – overcoming Szabo/Foti 7-4, Komarova/Goryachev 5-2, Wiksten/Wiksten 9-0 and Pathy-Dencso/Szabo 8-7.
That meant both Scottish pairs were into the quarter-finals, but that was as far as McCleary/McCleary could go, as they gave up a four in end six to lose 7-4 to home rink Palancsa/Kiss.
Aitken/Mouat, though, made the last four by defeating Heldin/Sjoberg of Sweden 8-5, which was largely down to a score of five in end two.
Defeat to Komarova/Goryachev, 9-7, ended their hopes of the title, but while the Russians went on to win gold, Aitken/Mouat bounced back to defeat Szekeres/Nagy again, by a 7-3 scoreline this time, which secured bronze.
Finally, the latest Grand Slam of Curling event took place in the shape of the Elite 10 in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia.
The 10-team competition featured match play scoring – the game decided by the number of ends won by each team (full explanation here).
It came down to a final between Teams Jacobs and Morris, and it was the latter (Jim Cotter, John Morris, Tyrel Griffith, Rick Sawatsky) who claimed the Slam title with a 1-up triumph.