Teams Fleming and Murdoch secure second spots

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Team Fleming, runners-up in Stockholm (photo: twitter.com/Team_Fleming1)

Teams Fleming and Murdoch both reached finals in Curling Champions Tour events this weekend, only to be pipped at the last by Swedish opposition.

Fleming went unbeaten in making the Stockholm Ladies Cup final, before losing to Team Hasselborg, while Murdoch did the same but were denied the Swiss Cup Basel title by Team Edin.

Elsewhere, Teams Aitken and Bryce were the winners at the Kinross Junior Classic – and the pairing of Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat have made the playoffs at the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Championship.

***

Two Scottish rinks were involved in the Stockholm Ladies Cup – Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) and Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Kelly Schafer, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray).

Fleming had it tough in Pool B, but got off to the perfect start by defeating the reigning world champions Team Feltscher 6-4, and then the reigning European champions and world bronze medallists Team Sidorova 5-3.

Further wins against Teams Lundman (6-4) and Matsumura (9-4, with threes in ends two and seven) secured them a spot in the quarter-finals.

Muirhead began their Pool D challenge with a straightforward 6-3 victory against Team Hegner, but they came unstuck against Team Hasselborg, the Swedes taking three in end four and winning 7-5.

They then gave up a four in end five to lose 6-4 versus Team Kim, and so a 5-3 win over Team Mani was not enough to earn passage to the quarter-finals.

Disappointment, yes, but these are early days for Project Muirhead, what with the line-up and coaching changes, and new tactical guru Glenn Howard – present in Stockholm – will have seen plenty of ‘teachable moments’ (to borrow Ian Tetley’s phrase) to use for future competitions.

Fleming, though, were only getting started. They faced Team Ogasawara in the last eight, and scored twos in ends one, three and six – then took their one with hammer in end eight to beat the Japanese rink 7-6.

In the semi-finals they met Kim, and the Koreans led 3-1 after four ends. Fleming scored twos in ends five and seven though, and when the match went to an extra end they again took their one with hammer to win it, 6-5 this time.

That put them into the final against Hasselborg, who like Fleming had won six straight games to get there.

The match proved to be one too far for Fleming, conceding two in end one and steals in ends two and three, finding themselves 4-1 down after four ends after getting bunged up too often in the middle of the sheet.

Fleming stole one in end six, but a two for Hasselborg in end seven prompted handshakes at 6-2 – an impressive win for the in-form Swedes, who barely put a foot wrong in the final.

That shouldn’t take away from Fleming’s achievement though – they had a superb run, beating top teams along the way, and will benefit from ranking points aplenty. And if they can carry forward these performances… that would bode very well for the rest of the season.

Skip Hannah Fleming said: “We are very pleased with the result, we gained in confidence with every game we played and it showed to us that we can compete with the best teams.

“We worked really hard to get to the final and it was the first ladies final at a CCT event for all of us and it will hopefully be the first of many.

“We have the European Playdowns to look forward to against Team Muirhead – Eve is world class and in any event she is always going to be there or thereabouts, so we are not going to get ahead of ourselves, but this weekend has given us the reassurance of what we can achieve.”

***

There was also a Scottish finalist at the Swiss Cup Basel, with all four Scots rinks who made the trip performing strongly in the triple knockout format competition.

Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) have started the season pretty slowly, but they were in no mood to mess about here – qualifying for the playoffs directly via the A-Road.

Wins over Team Jan Hess (8-4, with a four in end four), Team Pfister (6-2) and Team Stjerne (7-6) set up an A-Road final against Team Ulsrud – and the Scots triumphed, scoring three in end six and taking one with hammer in the extra end to edge it 7-6.

Compatriots Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan), meanwhile, kicked off with a 7-3 defeat of Team Bangerter and then saw off Team Wunderlin 6-3, only to then be pipped 4-3 by Ulsrud – and then drop to the C-Road after being beaten 8-7 by another Norwegian rink, Team Walstad.

Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) have been the outstanding Scottish rink so far this season, and they started with a 6-4 win over Team Jungen – but were knocked down to the B-Road after losing 7-5 to Team Gushue (skipped by Mark Nichols, with Pat Simmons at skip).

As for Team Mouat, they were without their skip and so they welcomed back their team-mate from last season Duncan Menzies to join Bobby Lammie, Gregor Cannon and Alasdair Schreiber.

They began with a 6-3 victory over Team Lottenbach, but lost 8-4 to Team Edin in their next match.

Wins for Mouat (6-5 versus Team Daniel, stealing four in end five) and Smith (8-2 against Team Kauste, scoring threes in ends one and two) set up a clash between the two – and it went to an extra end, where Mouat stole one to win 6-5.

But Mouat faced Edin again in their next B-Road match, and again the Swedes won – 6-2 – to send the Scots onto the C-Road, where Brewster had beaten Team Meister 4-3 and Smith overcame Jan Hess 6-2.

One defeat away from going home, all three Scottish rinks won their next matches – Brewster 9-3 against Team Attinger, Mouat 4-3 versus Team Van Dorp (after an extra end) and Smith 5-3 over Team Retornaz.

Mouat secured their quarter-final place by beating Team Sik 6-4, while Brewster and Smith met in a winner-takes-all match.

Brewster started well, with three in end three, but Smith scored two in end four and stole one in end five to tip the balance their way – then took one with hammer in end eight for a 5-4 victory.

Come the quarter-finals, Mouat and Murdoch met head-on. It was a tight affair initially, 2-2 after five ends, but Murdoch scored three in end six and Mouat couldn’t recover, going down 5-3.

Smith, meanwhile, faced Ulsrud and were in trouble when the Norwegians scored three in end four to lead 5-3. But Smith responded with three in end five, from where the teams exchanged ones into an extra end – Smith, holding hammer, scored one to win it 8-7.

Murdoch then sealed their spot in the final by scoring twos in ends four and six as they saw off Team De Cruz 5-3.

But Smith couldn’t join them, as they fell just short against Edin, who’d beaten Gushue in the quarters. A tight semi-final match turned on the Swedes’ steal of two in end six, the Scots being edged out 5-4.

Edin, who had battled into the playoffs via the C-Road, draw first blood in the final with three in end three, leading 3-2 at halfway. They went 5-2 up with two in end six, and although Murdoch claimed two of their own in end seven, it was Edin’s match, 5-4.

“We felt coming into Basel this weekend that we had all practised well and that showed in the confidence we had all weekend,” said skip David Murdoch.

“With the Euro Playdowns in just over a week it’s a good time to be hitting form. We had consistency and to be undefeated heading into the final in a strong field is the level we are looking to maintain. We can’t wait to get started in Perth.”

A strong competition from the Scottish rinks, then – especially for Murdoch in their best run of 2016-17 so far. To have three teams flying the Saltire in the last eight, against a quality field, is very encouraging with the season hotting up, and Europeans and Grand Slams fast approaching.

***

The latest leg of the Asham Under-21 Slam, the Kinross Junior Classic, involved 12 men’s teams and eight women’s.

Team Whyte (Ross Whyte, Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean) finished first in men’s section A, having beaten Drummond 16-4, Joiner 7-2 and Carson 6-5.

Section B was topped by Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle, Frazer Shaw) who defeated Cormack 10-6, Lockhart 8-3 and Barr 8-4; Team Barr (Grant Barr, Zack Stewart, Kerr Sands, Alistair Middleston) also made it into the semi-finals by overcoming Lockhart 10-3 and Cormack 10-7.

And it was Team McNay (Cameron McNay, Fin Campbell, James Baird, Angus Bryce) who qualified from section C, winning against Baird (5-3), Moodie (9-5) and Craik (6-3).

On the women’s side, Team Davie (Lisa Davie, Kirsty Barr, Annabel Skuse, Emma Barr) were first in section A after defeating Keen 11-3, Jackson 9-4 and Dakers 13-3; Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair) also got into the last four with wins against Dakers (16-3) and Keen (8-4).

In women’s section B, Team Aitken (Karina Aitken, Rebecca Morrison, Hailey Duff, Laura Barr) came out on top, beating Farmer 7-5, MacDonald 6-3 and Hunter 12-3; they were joined in making it through by Team MacDonald (Amy MacDonald, Ellie Hamilton, Amy Bryce, Layla Al-Saffar), victors against Hunter (16-4) and Farmer (7-5).

Come the semi-finals, Bryce scored three in end one and beat McNay 6-3, while Whyte notched twos in ends one, three and seven in defeating Barr 7-4.

As for the women, Aitken gained revenge over Jackson (having lost to them at Greenacres), stealing two in end eight to win 5-2, and in the other semi MacDonald stole six points in the first three ends in seeing off Davie 8-2.

Whyte were looking to turn the tables on Bryce in the men’s final, being beaten by them in finals in Braehead and Greenacres, but again Bryce triumphed – a steal of one in end three and two in end eight underpinning their 4-1 victory.

Aitken took the spoils in the women’s final, scoring three in end six to lead 5-3 but being taken to an extra end by MacDonald – Aitken taking one with hammer for a 6-5 win.

In the 3v4 matches, Barr beat McNay 11-6 and Jackson had a 7-3 win over Davie.

***

Finally, Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat have battled their way into the playoffs at the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles Championship in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba – hence why Mouat wasn’t with his team in Basel!

From 9-5 down in their opener, they scored three in end seven and stole three in end eight to beat Kimberly Tuck/Wayne Tuck Jr 11-9, but were knocked onto the B-Road by a 5-4 loss against Julia Portunova/Sergei Glukhov of Russia.

There they scored four in end eight in beating Katie Cottrill/Shawn Cottrill 9-5, before seeing off Julia Hunter/Alex Robichaud 7-2 and then Rui Wang/De Xin Ba of China 7-5.

That set up a B-Road final with Donda-Lee Deis/Ryan Deis, the Scots scoring four in end three on their way to a 9-6 victory.

Follow Aitken/Mouat’s playoffs progress today from 3pm UK time here.

Team Hardie retain Braehead Open title

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Braehead Open winners David Reid, Grant Hardie (skip), Blair Fraser, Duncan Menzies – photo: Graham Shedden/Goldline Scottish Curling Tour on Facebook

Team Hardie made it two successive Braehead Open victories this weekend, overcoming Team Jackson 5-2 in the final at the opening Scottish Curling Tour event of the season.

The weekend also saw victory for Team Kinnear in the Stevenson Trophy, the event which kicks off the 2016-17 Asham U17 Slam.

Overseas, Kristin Moen Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten of Norway claimed the Tallinn Mixed Doubles International title, while in Canada the College Clean Restoration Curling Classic attracted several top class men’s teams.

***

The first Goldline Scottish Curling Tour event of 2016-17 attracted 24 teams – both men’s and women’s, British Curling-funded and amateur, junior and senior level, and coming from England, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

Those teams were arranged into two pools, with the teams playing two pre-drawn matches and then a third based on the Shenkel system, before being divided into high, middle and low roads.

After three matches Section A was headed by Team Kubeska, the Czech men’s team, ahead of Teams Telfer, Jackson, Wiebe, Kubeskova, Horton, Jamieson and Russell.

The top eight rinks in Section B, meanwhile, were Teams Hardie (defending champions), Bryce, Woolston, Taylor, Aitken, Wilson, Mouat and Adam.

The last-16 ties were played on Saturday evening, and saw wins for Teams Bryce, Hardie, Jackson, Kubeska, Mouat, Taylor, Wiebe and Woolston.

In the quarter-finals, Hardie scored threes in ends one, four and six to defeat Wiebe 9-3, while Mouat – without skip Bruce – took three in end two as they beat Woolston 6-3.

Jackson scored twos in ends three, four and six to overcome Bryce 7-2 in their battle of the early season form sides, and Taylor made it an all-Scottish last four by defeating Kubeska 4-3, thanks to twos in ends five and seven.

The semi-finals saw Hardie emerge as victors against Mouat, scoring twos in ends one and three to win 5-3, while Jackson posted a four in end three as they overcame Taylor 7-4.

So the final came down to Hardie (Grant Hardie, Blair Fraser, Dave Reid, Duncan Menzies) versus Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair) – after the rinks exhanged ones, Hardie drew first blood with a two in end three.

Jackson pulled one back in end five, but another single for Hardie in end six, then a steal in end seven, put the game out of the girls’ reach at 5-2 – and ensured the Hardie rink had retained their title.

Team Smith’s first outing (Hazel Smith skipping a team featuring two former Team Muirhead leads in Claire Hamilton, returning to the sport after her post-Olympics break, and Sarah Reid) won the middle road, while Team Gillespie beat Team Havercroft 4-3 in the low road final.

You can find full results from the weekend here, while photos from the competition are here.

***

There were also 24 rinks involved at the Stevenson Trophy, the opening leg of the Asham U17 Slam taking place in Lockerbie.

Divided into six sections, the teams played three matches before high road and low road knockout stages.

The high road quarter-finals saw victories for Teams Farmer (6-5 against Carter) and Hair (5-4 over Gallacher).

In the semi-finals, Hair won again – 5-4 versus Craik – but Farmer came unstuck against Kinnear, who won 6-2.

Kinnear (Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean, Matthew McKenzie) came up trumps by the same scoreline in the final, scoring ones in ends two, three and four, then adding two in end six and a steal of one in end seven.

The low road final was won by Team Haswell (Blair Haswell, Adam Keron, Cameron Paterson, Adam MacDiarmid), who came from 6-3 down after five ends to beat Team Kennedy 9-6.

***

The inaugural Tallinn Mixed Doubles International attracted 18 teams from nine countries – the Czech Republic, host country Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, Poland and Switzerland.

Coming out on top were the Norwegian pairing of Kristin Moen Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten, who kept their cool to score one with hammer in end eight (having given up steals in ends six and seven) to beat Oona Kauste and Tomi Rantimaki of Finland 5-4.

Finally, among several World Curling Tour events taking place in Canada over the weekend, the College Clean Restoration Curling Classic in Saskatchewan involved the most high-profile teams.

The competition finishes today – the rinks left standing are: Team Bottcher, Team Edin, Team Epping, Team Jacobs, Team Laycock, Team Morozumi, Team Thomas and Team Ulsrud. Follow the knockout stage scores here.

‘Another week, another final’: Team Muirhead runners-up in Saskatoon

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Team Muirhead: Eve Muirhead, Kelly Schafer, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray (photo: British Curling/Tom J Brydone)

Team Muirhead reached their second consecutive final in Canada, battling their way along the C-Road at the Colonial Square Ladies Classic, before falling at the last to Bingyu Wang’s Chinese rink.

Also in Canada, Team Brewster were the top performing Scottish rink at the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic, going out in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Team Koe.

And in Scotland, the first leg of the Asham U21 Slam took place – the Greenacres Junior Masters titles being won by Team Bryce and Team Jackson.

***

Team G Aitken (Gina Aitken, Rowena Kerr, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen) and Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Kelly Schafer, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) were the two Scottish rinks competing at the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

In what was a triple knockout event, with A, B and C-Roads, Team Aitken won their first match by defeating Team Englot 5-4 after an extra end, having picked up twos in ends two and six.

They lost their next match, 6-4 against Team Fujisawa of Japan, and then dropped to the C-Road after being beaten 9-2 by Team Eberle.

There they routed Team Rocque, who are seventh on the World Curling Tour Order of Merit, by a 10-0 scoreline (steal of five in end two, three in end three), before being eliminated by Team Silvernagle, 6-5 after an extra end – but this was a positive experience for the young Scots rink.

As for Team Muirhead, they opened with a 5-4 victory over Team Lawton (scoring two in end seven and stealing two in end eight) and then overcame Team Pätz of Switzerland 5-3, again with a steal of two in the eighth.

However, they lost 8-4 to Team Hasselborg of Sweden in the A-Road final (giving up a four in end one), and then suffered a second successive defeat to Swedish opposition, Team Sigfridsson winning 6-4 to knock the Scots onto the C-Road.

Two wins needed to make the quarter-finals: two wins achieved. First they beat Team Martin 6-5, and then defeated Team Campbell 8-4, and that set up a quarter-final rematch with Sigfridsson.

This time the Scottish-Swedish clash had a different outcome, as Muirhead scored two in end three, one in end five and stole two in end six to win 5-3.

In the semi-finals they faced Team Jones (with Cheryl Bernard skipping in place of Jennifer Jones, who’s on maternity leave) and began well, with threes in ends two and four, before scoring two in end six and stealing one in end seven to win 9-5.

So that meant a second successive final for the new-look Muirhead foursome, this time facing Team Wang of China, the 2009 world champions having lost their first match in Saskatoon but reeling off six subsequent wins to make the title decider.

Wang scored two in end four to lead 3-1 at halfway; Muirhead replied with a two of their own, but three for Wang in end six proved decisive – the Chinese rink winning 7-4.

No dwelling on defeat for Muirhead and their new tactical coach Glenn Howard, though – two second places from two season-opening events with two new players is not to be sniffed at.

And skip Eve Muirhead told British Curling: “Another week, another final… from last week in Edmonton we continued to build on our performance, having some great games but also lots of learning curves.

“There of course is still room for improvement but this early in the season we as a team feel we are in a great place, and are aiming to continue to show the benefit of the work we have done on ice and off during the summer months.”

***

Meanwhile, there were three Scottish teams competing in the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic in Cornwall, Ontario.

Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jennifer Dodds, Vicky Wright, Alice Spence) were one of 15 rinks in the women’s section, with the top six qualifying for the playoffs.

Fleming opened with a 6-5 extra end win over Team Morrissey, but then lost 8-3 to Team Homan.

A 6-4 defeat to Team MacPhee followed, which meant that a 5-4 victory over Team Inglis (thanks to a decisive two in end six) was not quite enough to make the knockout stages.

The competition was won by powerhouse Homan, who topped Team Flaxey 7-1 in the final.

In the men’s event, Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) also fell narrowly short of the playoffs on a W3 L2 record.

After a 7-6 loss to Team Bailey, they achieved three successive wins – 6-5 against Team Shuster, 11-1 over Team McCrady (including a steal of six in end four!) and 5-4 versus Team Brown after an extra end.

But with four wins required to make the last eight, an 8-2 defeat to Team Koe proved to be the killer blow for Murdoch.

That left Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan) as the sole Scottish representation in the quarter-finals, having posted a W4 L1 record in the round robin.

They overcame Team De Cruz of Switzerland 6-3, Team Kean 8-5, Team Carruthers 7-4 (scoring three in end one and four in end three) and Team Hemmings 7-6 (after a steal in the extra end), with their only loss coming against Team Epping (7-6 after an extra).

In the quarter-finals they faced Team Koe, the reigning world champions, and exchanged twos in the first couple of ends.

Koe, though, scored two in end four and three in end six, and two for Brewster in end seven was not enough to avert an 8-5 defeat.

No shame in that, of course, especially as Koe went on to win the competition, bashing Team Gushue (with Charley Thomas filling in for Brad Gushue and Mark Nichols playing skip) 9-3 in the final.

Skip Tom Brewster reflected: “It’s been a good two weeks for us. We feel like we’ve improved over the two spiels we’ve played in.

“Shorty has been excellent, a really well organised event with a very strong field. We’re happy with how we’ve performed over the weekend and we had a good performance against the world champions in the quarter-final.”

***

The Greenacres Junior Masters kicked off the Asham U21 Slam for the 2016-17 season, with 12 men’s and nine women’s teams taking part at Howwood.

Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle, Frazer Shaw) topped men’s section A, courtesy of wins over Teams Hair (18-0), Craik (5-3), Carson (12-3), Baird (5-2) and Joiner (9-3).

Men’s section B was headed up by Team Whyte (Ross Whyte, Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean), who defeated Teams McNay (8-3), Moodie (14-2), Lockhart (8-1), Cormack (10-3) and McLean (5-1).

As for the women, it was Team K Aitken (Karina Aitken, Rebecca Morrison, Hailey Duff, Laura Barr) who were first in section A, having beaten Teams Blair (17-0), Dakers (5-3) and Dandie (8-4).

And Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair) qualified first from section B, victors over Teams Hunter (11-0), Davie (10-4) and Keen (13-0), and drawing 4-4 with Team MacDonald.

In the men’s semi-finals, Bryce took a 5-0 lead after two ends and ultimately defeated Cormack 7-1, while Whyte beat Carson by the same scoreline, having taken threes in ends one and two.

In the last four on the women’s side, Aitken scored twos in ends six and seven to overcome MacDonald 7-5, while Jackson edged out Dakers 4-3, having been 3-0 up after three.

Bryce claimed the men’s title courtesy of a 7-2 win over Whyte in the final, with little to separate the teams until a four for Bryce in end six blew it open.

In the women’s final, Jackson scored two in end one, stole one in end two and added another two in end six to overcome Aitken 6-3.

That meant two titles in three weeks for Bryce and Jackson, who had also triumphed at the EJCT Braehead Junior International at the start of the month.

Carson beat Cormack 10-3 to take third on the men’s side, while MacDonald won 8-6 versus Dakers for women’s third spot.

Team Smith triumph at Oakville OCT Fall Classic

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Team Smith: Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, coach Viktor Kjall, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith (photo courtesy of Jonathan Brazeau/Sportsnet)

Team Smith claimed the Oakville OCT Fall Classic men’s title and $3,000 prize money by defeating Team McCormick of the USA 7-2 in the final.

While fellow Scots Team Mouat exited with a W1 L3 record at the pool stage of the World Curling Tour event in Ontario, Smith went unbeaten throughout.

Back across the Atlantic, meanwhile, there was double Scottish success at the Braehead Junior International – Teams Bryce and Jackson winning the boys’ and girls’ competitions respectively in their first competitions after line-up changes.

***

Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) came into the Oakville OCT Fall Classic off the back of a run to the quarter-finals at the Baden Masters in Switzerland, and hit their stride in Canada straight away.

They began the round robin pool stage by beating Team Birr 4-2 (with a pivotal steal of one in end five), then saw off Team Ferris 6-3 with a three in end eight.

Passage to the quarter-finals was secured with two further victories, against Team Balsdon 8-4 (threes in ends four and eight) and Team Murphy (three in end six).

Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Derrick Sloan, Gregor Cannon), in contrast to Smith, altered their line-up over the summer (Sloan coming in) and this was their first competition of the 2016-17 season.

They opened with a 7-4 loss to Team Brown, giving up a four in end two, before enjoying a comfortable 8-1 win over Team Stewart, stealing four in end seven.

However, narrow defeats to Team Krell (7-6) and Team McCormick (8-7) saw them exit the competition on a W1 L3 record. They don’t have to wait long to put that behind them though – they’re back in action this coming weekend, in Stu Sells Oakville Tankard tier 2.

In the quarter-finals, Smith started poorly, giving up a steal of two in end one versus Team Deruelle, but responded with a two and then a massive steal of five. The match was over after six ends, Smith the winners 8-4.

The semi-finals pitted them against Team Gardner, and the Canadians were 2-1 up after four ends. Smith scored one in end six and stole two in end seven, and although Gardner scored two in end eight, it was the Scots who took their one in the extra end to win 5-4 and make the final.

There they faced McCormick of the USA – both rinks reaching the final with W6 L0 records. But it was Smith who started like an express train, scoring two in end one and stealing singles in ends two and three.

The Americans got on the board with two in end four, but ones for Smith in ends five, six and seven handed them a 7-2 victory, $3,000 and precious tour ranking points.

Skip Kyle Smith said: “I’m really pleased with how we played. The ice has been really good and we played as well as we could really.”

Smith will look to carry this early season winning form into the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard next weekend, joined in tier 1 by fellow Scots Brewster and Murdoch.

The Oakville OCT Fall Classic women’s title was won by Team Hasselborg, who overcame Team Wrana 6-2 in an all-Swedish final.

***

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Team Bryce: Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle, Frazer Shaw (photo: Leslie Ingram-Brown)

In Scotland, the opening European Junior Curling Tour event of the season took place – the Braehead Junior International, which involved 12 boys’ teams and eight girls’.

Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle, Frazer Shaw) topped Pool A on the boys’ side, thanks to wins over Muskatewitz (6-1), Lottenbach (8-1) and Foss (7-2), plus peels against Ramsfjell (4-4) and Carson (6-6).

That meant they went straight into the semi-finals, whereas Teams Ramsfjell (Norway) and Carson (Luke Carson, James Carswell, George Ballantyne, Mark Taylor) finished second and third in the group and so proceeded to quarter-finals.

Pool B was won by Team Whyte (Ross Whyte, Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean), who won against Teams Schnider (8-2), Haswell (8-3), Myran (6-1) and Hoesli (7-5), and lost to Hess (5-3).

Team Haswell (Blair Haswell, Adam Keron, Cameron Paterson, Adam MacDiarmid), despite a 6-5 win over Hess of Switzerland, finished bottom of the group – Swiss rinks Hess and Schnider made it into the quarters.

On the girls’ side, the pool was headed by three Swiss teams – Witschonke, Stritt and Keiser. Scottish Teams Aitken (Karina Aitken, Rebecca Morrison, Hailey Duff, Laura Barr) and MacDonald (Amy MacDonald, Ellie Hamilton, Amy Bryce, Layla Al-Saffar) finished on W2 D1 L2 records to sit fourth and fifth.

Behind them, defending champions Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair) squeezed into the quarter-finals having won two (against Davie and Keiser) and lost three (to MacDonald, Witschonke and Stritt).

In the quarter-finals, Hess scored three in end six in beating Carson 6-1, while Ramsfjell defeated Schnider 8-4. As for the girls, Aitken scored three in end four to overcome MacDonald 5-4, while Jackson got two in end two and stole two in end five to defeat Keiser, also 5-4.

Bryce started their boys’ semi-final against Hess with a bang, scoring four in end one, adding a steal of three in end four to win 8-4. Whyte, meanwhile, scored twos in ends five and seven to beat Ramsfjell 5-2.

In the girls’ semis, Jackson were on a roll now and they overcame Stritt 7-4 (having been 4-1 down, they scored three in end six, stole two in end seven and another one in end eight); Aitken were unable to join them in the final, though, giving up two in end four and a steal of one in end five to lose 5-3 to Swiss junior champions Witschonke.

The boys’ final pitted two Scottish teams against each other, and Whyte stole two in end three to lead 3-1. Bryce responded with two in end four, then a steal of one in end six.

Whyte scored two in end seven, but Bryce replied with two of their own in the last end to win the match 6-5 and claim the title.

There was also Scottish success in the women’s final. Witschonke led 2-1 at halfway, but Jackson scored two in end five and stole two in end six for a 6-5 win – a remarkable success given their line-up change and their slow start to the competition, only just making the knockout stages.

Hess won the boys’ third/fourth playoff 5-4 against Ramsfjell, while Stritt beat Aitken 4-3 in the girls’ playoff.

For more photos from the event, and video interviews with skips Cameron Bryce, Sophie Jackson, Ross Whyte and Selina Witschonke, visit the event’s Facebook page here.

#scc2016 day six: Final reckoning

Anna Sloan 2
Anna Sloan of Team Muirhead, the defending champions reaching another women’s final (photo: Tom Brydone (facebook.com/brydoneimages))

Teams Brewster and Muirhead kept up their impressive form by storming into tomorrow’s men’s and women’s finals at the Scottish Curling Championships, later joined by Teams Murdoch and Gray.

Brewster defeated Team Bryce in the men’s 1v2 game, while Muirhead eased past Team Fleming in the 1v2 on the women’s side.

Then, in the evening’s semi-finals, Murdoch outplayed Bryce to set up a big match-up with Brewster, while Gray defeated Fleming after an extra end to make the women’s final.

***

There were no great shocks in the lunchtime page playoffs, as Teams Muirhead, Brewster and Murdoch came out winners.

Muirhead played Team Fleming in the women’s 1v2 game – they had beaten Fleming 8-2 in the round robin stage, and won this game just as convincingly.

The defending champions got off to the best possible start with a three in end one, before stealing two in end four.

Fleming scored two in end five to give themselves hope, but Muirhead stole two in end seven and one in end eight for a 9-2 final score.

Afterwards, Eve Muirhead said: “We came out the blocks sharp and the three [in end one] gave us a bit of a jump.

“It was a long time to defend a lead but we had composure and good shot-making, making our peels when we had to.

“We’ll maybe watch some of the semi-finals tonight, but for us now it’s about keeping our composure, chilling out and getting ready for our next game.”

Team Brewster had won their last six games in the men’s round robin, and kept their run going by beating Team Bryce 7-3 in the men’s 1v2 to make it into the final.

G Muirhead
Glen Muirhead throws for Team Brewster (photo: Tom Brydone)

Brewster scored two in end one, and although Bryce hit back with two in end three, the response was immediate: another two in end four, and a 4-2 lead.

The teams exchanged ones in ends five and six, before a steal of two in end nine finished the job for Brewster, 7-3 winners.

Skip Tom Brewster said: “We’re quite confident, technically we’re throwing really well and drawing well.

“Bryce are a good team but we have a lot more experience and that maybe showed in the game – we felt in control from the two in the first end, and were never overly troubled.”

In the men’s 3v4 game, Team Murdoch overcame Team Mouat 8-3, setting up a semi-final with Bryce and knocking Mouat out of the competition.

The first five ends were very tight, Murdoch leading 2-1, but a steal of two in end six made that 4-1.

Mouat struck back with two in end seven, but Murdoch scored three in end eight and stole one in end nine to bring matters to a close.

***

Teams Bryce and Fleming, beaten in the 1v2 games, had second chances to make the men’s and women’s finals respectively – playing semi-finals in the evening.

But neither could take those chances, with Bryce getting off to the worst possible start against a team of Murdoch’s experience, giving up a steal of three in end one.

From there Murdoch remained in charge, exchanging ones and stealing two in end five on their way to a 7-2 win – since their loss in the last game of the round robin, they have really had the bit between their teeth, and it should be a cracking final against Brewster.

In the women’s semi, a tight opening half of the game was broken by a two for Fleming in end six that saw them go 4-2 up.

Team Gray, however, fought back with a two in end eight and a steal of two in end nine – and it took a superb hit for two from Hannah Fleming in end 10 to take the game to an extra end.

There, Gray’s rink kept it clean and, after Fleming’s last stone picked, Gray made an open draw to win 7-6.

Afterwards, Lauren Gray said: “We’ve got a record between us [Teams Fleming and Gray] – we beat them, they beat us. So we knew we had a chance; in practice we just focused on playing good shots.

“Eve’s rink has so much experience; this is our second year together. We can take confidence from our semi-tight game in the round robin.

“If we can keep it close down ends eight, nine, 10… curling’s curling and anything can happen.”

***

Tomorrow is finals day. Muirhead play Gray in the women’s final from 11am.

Then, from 4pm, Brewster play Murdoch in the men’s final.

Both finals have sold out (information for ticket holders here), and there will not be live streaming, so if you’re not going to be in Perth, you can follow both finals live, shot-by-shot on CurlingGeek.

And once again there will be updates throughout the day on the Roaring Game Blog Facebook and Twitter.

Weekend round-up: Teams Bryce, Murray and Gray compete

Teams Bryce and Murray both reached the last four at the European Junior Curling Tour (EJCT) event in Thun, Switzerland, while Team Gray made the quarters at the Boundary Ford Classic in Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada.

The EJCT event saw teams divided into pools ahead of a knock-out stage to decide the boys and girls winners.

Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Zack Stewart, Fraser Kingan, Frazer Shaw) went undefeated through the group stage, winning all their games.

They recorded victories over Team Hess of Switzerland 4-3, Team Pimpini of Italy 8-2, two more Swiss teams Hösli (6-2) and Stucki (9-4), before rounding off with a remarkable 16-2 win over Team Ramsfjell of Norway – scoring SIX in end five.

Topping their pool meant they bypassed the quarter finals, and so faced a semi final against Pimpini.

Although Bryce had won their group stage encounter, this time it was the Italian rink which came out on top, 5-3.

Bryce did go on to win the third-place playoff, beating Hess 4-3.

As for Team Murray (Katie Murray, Rebecca Morrison, Hailey Duff, Mili Smith), they also cruised through their pool with five wins from five.

Those victories came against Team Turmann of Estonia 8-2, Team Ramsfjell of Norway 6-5, Team Gauchat of Switzerland 6-3, another Swiss rink, Team Witschonke, 5-4 and Team Constantini of Italy 6-4.

However, like Bryce, Murray went out at the semi final stage to Team Demkina of Russia, going down 5-4, before losing the third/fourth match 6-2 to Team Stern of Switzerland.

***

In Canada, Team Gray (Lauren Gray, Jen Dodds, Vicky Wright, Mhairi Baird) took part in the Boundary Ford Curling Classic, a triple knock-out competition with A, B and C-Roads leading to playoffs.

Gray opened with a 7-6 win over Team Dutton, but were then knocked down to the B-Road by Team Anderson as they were beaten 7-4.

There they lost again, 10-0 against Team Zingel, and so were in last chance street on the C-Road.

However, victories over Teams Despins (9-4) and Silvernagle (7-6) qualified them for the quarter finals.

There they were finally knocked out with a 10-7 defeat to Team Kleibrink, who themselves went on to lose in the semi finals to eventual spiel winners Team Scheidegger.

 

Team Bryce spotlight

Team Bryce (L-R): Cameron Bryce, Zack Stewart, Fraser Kingan, Frazer Shaw
Team Bryce (L-R): Cameron Bryce, Zack Stewart, Fraser Kingan, Frazer Shaw – Jayne Stirling Photography (facebook.com/JayneStirlingPhotography)

Team Bryce are an academy men’s team looking to provide a bright future for Scottish and British curling, currently competing in the Scottish Curling Tour and junior events.

Who are the team members, and what are their objectives for this season and beyond? Read on to find out…

Q: Could you introduce the members of the team – how long they’ve been curling and what they bring to the team dynamic?
A: Frazer Shaw (lead): I have now been curling for seven years – I started in my last year of primary school. I am an outgoing and competitive person. I really enjoy curling with my team because we have such a good friendship, built over the past couple of seasons. I feel that I bring an element of fun to the team when appropriate, as well as the desire and energy to win.
Fraser Kingan (second): I have been curling for nine years. I am a very motivated and competitive person and always put my all into every game I play. This benefits the team as it helps us to all get fired up for each game which makes us all play better.
Zack Stewart (third): I have also been curling for nine years since starting at Dumfries at the end of primary school. I am the most reserved member of our team – this allows me to keep a level head during our games and try to keep my team-mates’ heads in the right place when we are on ice. I am also highly motivated and I really enjoy pushing myself in training and games.
Cameron Bryce (skip): I started curling at the age of 10, also at primary school. This is my 10th season. On the ice I am quite laid-back when in play. I don’t get stressed or flustered when we are under pressure in a game. With Zack and myself being calm, it benefits our team in big games. I am highly motivated and I train at every possibility, to get the best out of myself.

Cameron Bryce at the Kinross Junior Classic
Cameron Bryce at the Kinross Junior Classic – Brydone Images (facebook.com/brydoneimages)

Q: Cameron, you skipped the Scottish team at the World Mixed Curling Championship last month – how would you sum up that experience?
A: In my first experience on the world stage, I found my time very enjoyable. It was a great stepping stone for the season ahead and beyond.
It definitely helps for coping with some pressure situations and makes me hungry to be back at a world championship event in the near future.

Q: This is your third season together – how does that familiarity help you out on the ice?
A: It gives us a real consistency both on and off the ice. We know when we need the support and can work really well together when this occurs.
We all know each other’s strengths and we can really use that to our advantage when at competitions.
The attributes we all bring to the ice are really positive. Going into the start of this season we are all putting that extra effort in, both physically and mentally.

Q: You have a new coach – Keith Prentice. What does he offer you as a team?
A: First of all, Keith has a lot of great experience in curling – from coaching high performance teams over the past few years, to competing for Scotland in the World Senior Championship, and winning.
Keith has been in many situations we aspire to be in, going into major championships, and we feel he is the right person to help us achieve our goals.
We hope this combination can work really well to build a similar sort of consistency in our game.

Q: How happy were you with your 2014-15 season overall?
A: We felt the 2014-15 season went really well. We achieved some great results throughout the season, our highlight being the Scottish Men’s Championship.
However, we didn’t play our best in the junior finals – so if we had to say the result we were most disappointed in, it would have to be that.

Q: Looking ahead, what are your ambitions for the 2015-16 season?
A: Our main ambition for the season is to win the Scottish Junior Championships.
But this is just a stepping-stone for our team ambitions – to compete and medal in the World Junior Championships.