Team Fleming make last eight and Canadian Olympic spots decided

Team Fleming before Mesabi Classic
Team Fleming at Mountain Iron Buhl High School ahead of the Curl Mesabi Classic. Pic: facebook.com/teamfleming1

There was not quite the overseas success which Team Morrison enjoyed at the EJCT Austrian Women’s Cup the week before, but Team Fleming did a good job representing Scotland across the Atlantic this weekend.

A little further north of Minnesota, the hotbed of curling (and therefore the gold medal favourites in every Olympic Games) saw its Olympic representatives decided.

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Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) were in Eveleth, Minnesota (USA), for the Curl Mesabi Classic.

They began well, with wins over Teams Rhyme (5-2) and Martin (6-5), but defeats to Rocque (3-2) and Schultz (6-4) forced them into a tiebreaker with McPhee, which they won to make the quarter-finals.

The last eight pitted them against Rocque again, and once again the Grand Slam regulars were too strong, with twos in ends three and six helping them to a 6-2 victory – and Rocque went on the win the title, beating Roth in the final.

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The Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings culminated in Ottawa, Ontario, this weekend, and it’s Teams Homan and Koe who will represent Canada at next year’s Olympic Games.

Team Carey topped the women’s round robin with eight wins from eight, but after Homan defeated reigning Olympic champions Jones in the semi-final, it was the current world champions who triumphed 6-5 in the final.

On the men’s side, Koe finished W7 L1 to book their place in the final; McEwen beat Gushue in the semi, but could not repeat the trick – Koe winning 7-6.

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They will be joined at Pyeongchang 2018 by Denmark men (Stjerne), Italy men (Retornaz), China women (Wang) and Denmark women (Dupont), after they emerged from the Olympic Qualification Event in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

That means that the Olympics will feature the following teams:

Men – Canada, Denmark, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, USA; women – Canada, China, Denmark, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, Russia (subject to International Olympic Committee decision), Sweden, Switzerland, USA.

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Finally, this weekend also saw the Perth edition of the Asham Under-14 Slam take place at the Dewars Centre.

A total of 16 teams competed across four sections, before the High Road final was contested between Teams Chalmers and Maguire.

McGuire (Inca Maguire, Holly Wilkie-Milne, Laura Watt, Emma Allan) won 5-1 to clinch the title.

Scotland win World Women’s bronze as Canada sweep the board

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Scotland’s bronze medal winners: Glenn Howard, Kelly Schafer, Lauren Gray, Vicki Adams, Anna Sloan, Eve Muirhead (pic: twitter.com/evemuirhead)

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Teams Bryce and Jackson excel at World Juniors

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SILVER: Cate Brewster, Laura Barr, Sophie Sinclair, Mili Smith, Naomi Brown and Sophie Jackson. Pic: twitter.com/CurlTeamJackson

Team Bryce and Jackson both performed strongly in Korea at the World Junior Curling Championships, Sophie Jackson’s rink winning silver in the women’s section and Cameron Bryce’s men finishing fourth in the venue for the forthcoming Winter Olympics.

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Scotland women (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair, Laura Barr (alternate), Cate Brewster (coach)) enjoyed a huge turnaround from the last World Juniors, when they were relegated to the B-Division, but having won promotion they did superbly.

They cruised through the round robin with a W7 L2 record, starting with four consecutive victories – versus Korea (7-6, stealing one in end 10), Hungary (8-7), Turkey (10-5) and Sweden (6-5, stealing two in the 10th end).

Team Jackson then lost 8-7 to Switzerland, but bounced back with three more wins, against Japan (9-7), the USA (7-2) and Canada (8-5, scoring four in end four).

Their last round robin match brought an 8-7 loss to Russia after an extra end, but they had done enough to make the 1v2 page playoff.

There they were beaten 9-6 by Sweden, having given up a steal of three in end three, but they secured their spot in the final, guaranteeing a medal, with a emphatic victory against Canada.

The Scots got off to an ideal start, scoring three in end one, and added two in the third end, stole four in the fourth, three in the fifth and one in the sixth, for a 13-2 win after eight ends.

Skip Sophie Jackson said: “I think the fire was sparked in us. We were so ready for that game and we wanted to make the final so bad after last night’s loss.

“We were just really ready and really pumped for that. This takes the pressure off a wee bit, but we still want that gold so bad.”

The final brought a third meeting with Sweden, the sides having won once and lost once against each other already in Gangneung.

Isabella Wranaa’s Swedes took the spoils this time, as although Scotland scored three in end four to lead 4-3, Sweden hit back by taking a three of their own in end five, stealing two in the sixth end and adding another two in the eighth for a 10-7 win and the gold medals.

Scotland could still be delighted with claiming silver in a tough competition; Canada took bronze.

Jackson said: “I’m a bit gutted, but we’ve had a really good week.

“I’m speechless really, we’ve done way better than we expected, so we’re still happy.

“I’m so proud of my team, we’ve done so much this season.”

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It was a tougher route to the playoffs for Scotland men (Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle, Frazer Shaw, Ross Whyte (alternate), Colin Morrison (coach)), who lost their opening two matches – 7-6 to the USA after an extra end (having been 6-2 down), and 8-7 to Norway (having been 6-1 down).

But they pulled out four successive wins to get back in contention – beating Sweden 8-6, Switzerland 8-7 (after an extra end), China 8-3 and Italy 7-5.

They went down 8-7 to hosts Korea (another extra end loss), which meant they had to win their final two round robin games to clinch a playoff spot.

That they did, overcoming Turkey 7-4 and Canada 9-8 (taking their one with hammer in an extra end).

They won the 3v4 game 8-7 against Norway, scoring two in end 10 and then stealing one in the extra end, but they came unstuck against Ki Jeong Lee’s Korea in the semi-final.

The host nation, who went on to beat the USA in the final to win gold, beat the Scots 11-4 courtesy of three in end one, two in end three, three in the sixth end and two in the eighth.

That left Scotland facing Norway (again!) for bronze, and here they fell short – as the Norwegians went 7-0 ahead courtesy of steals in the first three ends, and eventually won out 10-3 in eight ends.

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As well as the Scottish Championships, plenty of other national championships have been taking place this week, including the English Championships – which were won by Team Woolston (men’s) and Team Farnell (women’s).

In Canada, of course, we had the national women’s championship, the Scotties, which witnessed fierce competition between Teams Englot (Manitoba) and Homan (Ontario).

Englot won both the round robin encounter and the 1v2 page playoff game, but when it came to the final, it was Rachel Homan’s rink who won a see-saw affair 8-6, gaining the national title and securing a trip to face Team Muirhead and co at Worlds in Beijing.

 

2016-17 season preview

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Team Mouat photobombed by Viktor Kjall in Kinross (photo: facebook.com/britishcurling/posts/1620064414990525)

So long, Rio, and on to Pyeongchang.

Yes, we have another one-and-a-half seasons of curling to enjoy first, but the 2018 Winter Olympics are certainly on everyone’s radar, with the added bonus of mixed doubles for the first time.

What Rio 2016 has done is inspire athletes – of all sports, and all levels – as only the Olympics can.

And Team GB’s unprecedented success can only encourage our curlers to work hard towards emulating this summer’s medal heroes – and perhaps becoming role models to grassroots players themselves.

Canadian powerhouse Team Homan spent the last week in the guise of great role models, inspiring the next generation through their first #HomanJrs camp.

 

Closer to home, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club held its own Summer Camp in Stirling, attracting 48 junior curlers.

British Curling, meanwhile, held a training camp in Kinross for elite performance teams, producing a series of action/interview videos to demonstrate some of what went on as the rinks gear up for the season ahead.

While many of those teams have retained their 2015-16 line-ups, others have made changes – some minor, others in the ‘overhaul’ category.

Scottish women’s champions for the last two seasons, Team Muirhead, have brought in Lauren Gray (their alternate at the Sochi Olympics) at lead in place of Sarah Reid – and Kelly Schafer (2010 Olympian) will cover for Anna Sloan while she recovers from injury.

Four-time Brier and Worlds winner Glenn Howard has been brought on board as tactical coach for the Muirhead rink too.

Team Gray, their skip having moved on, have split up – Jennifer Dodds and Vicky Wright joining a new-look Team Fleming.

There are line-up changes across the Scottish women’s game in fact, plus the addition of Hazel Smith’s rink – which includes Sarah Reid and Claire Hamilton, who’s returned to the game after a post-Sochi break.

 

As for the men, Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith are unchanged from last season. Given that Smith qualified for Europeans, Brewster for Worlds and Murdoch collected titles in Europe and Asia, that is no great surprise.

Teams Bryce, Hardie, Mouat and Whyte have shuffled their packs, however. One of the most notable switches is that of Robin Brydone – having skipped his own team in 2015-16, he moves onto Team Bryce at third.

Find a list of Scottish team line-ups and social media here.

The summer has not been quiet, not with a raft of team changes across the global game, a new concussion policy for the sport in Canada (‘the Gushue Rule’) and a Sweeping Summit designed to tackle #broomgate that said rather more about equipment than technique.

But it’s still exciting to have the real thing back after the break.

The first event of the new season for Scottish teams begins tomorrow – the Baden Masters in Switzerland, part of the Curling Champions Tour.

Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith represent Scotland at the tournament, facing the rinks of Peter De Cruz, Niklas Edin, Rasmus Stjerne, Thomas Ulsrud and more – there are 20 teams in total, playing round robin matches then knockouts.

The first competition of 2016-17 held in Scotland is the Braehead Junior International (September 2-4), followed by a dozen events throughout next month – see the dates for them all here.

This is of course a season with a major international tournament held in Scotland – the European Curling Championships in Braehead in November – so it’s an important time for the sport and its players to curl well, and hopefully draw some new players in.

Once again, you can follow news and events from the upcoming season on this blog, plus its Facebook and Twitter pages.

So good luck to all teams – especially the Scottish ones! – for the season ahead, and good curling!

Weekend round-up: Scotland bounce back at World Women’s

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Team Scotland in Swift Current: Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Sarah Reid, Rachel Hannen

Scotland sit on two wins and one loss after day two of the World Women’s Championship in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

Elsewhere, Judith and Lee McCleary were runners-up at the Westbay Ltd Hungarian Mixed Doubles Curling Cup, while several other events took place involving Scottish and English teams.

And Team Gushue won the latest Grand Slam of Curling event, the Elite 10, after women’s rink Team Homan made a little history by taking on the men.

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Scotland sat out the first session of play at World Women’s in Canada, then were beaten 5-3 by Team Sigfridsson of Sweden in their opener, a two in end five and steal of one in end six proving crucial for the Swedes.

But they bounced back by beating Korea 8-6 – with twos in ends one, four and six – and then Germany 10-3 – taking two in end two, three in end four and stealing four in end seven.

So with all teams playing three times, it’s only Canada and Japan who sit unbeaten.

For linescores throughout the tournament, go here, while you can watch selected games on World Curling TV.

You can get updates on Scotland’s games here, plus the Roaring Game Blog Facebook and Twitter.

And photos from the event can be found here and here.

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The Westbay Ltd Hungarian Mixed Doubles Curling Cup involved the Scottish pair Judith and Lee McCleary.

At the quarter-final stage, they defeated Michelle Gribi and Reto Gribi of Switzerland 9-4, before overcoming Victoria Moiseeva and Petr Dron of Russia 7-6 in the semi-finals.

They faced another Russian pair, Anastasia Bryzgalova and Alexander Krushelnitskiy, in the final – despite a four in end two and three in end five for the Scots, the game went to an extra end, and the Russians were victorious 10-9.

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In Scotland, the Scottish Curling Pairs Championship was played in Stranraer, and was won by Lockerbie (Scott Hamilton/Robert Hamilton), 5-2 victors in the final against Murrayfield 1.

Meanwhile, the RCCC Funspiel took place in Braehead – with Stranraer 1 winning the under-15 final and Lockerbie triumphant in the under-13 final.

And Greenacres hosted the English Mixed Championship, which featured five teams playing a double round robin before a final between the rinks skipped by Greg Dunn and Andrew Woolston.

Dunn and his team of Angharad Ward, Nigel Patrick and Lorna Rettig won 6-4 for the title and a spot at the World Mixed Curling Championship in Kazan, Russia, in October.

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Finally, the Grand Slam of Curling Elite 10 was held in Victoria, British Colombia, featuring eight Canadian men’s teams, one Swedish men’s team (Niklas Edin’s rink) and one Canadian women’s team, that of Rachel Homan.

Team Homan played four pool matches against men’s rinks (the games using match play format) and won one of their ‘battles of the sexes’ by defeating Team Thomas.

But ultimately the competition came down to a final between Teams Carruthers and Gushue.

Gushue went two up, Carruthers pulled it back level and the title was decided by a shootout to the button – won by Brad Gushue.

 

Weekend round-up: GSOC Canadian Open and Scottish Mixed Doubles

Teams Muirhead and Murdoch both had solid runs in the Grand Slam of Curling Canadian Open in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, while Bruce Mouat and Gina Aitken won the Scottish Curling Mixed Doubles Championship in Braehead.

The Canadian Open, rather than a round robin, had a triple knockout system (A, B and C-Roads – teams had to win three games before they lost three) leading to the playoffs.

In the men’s competitions, Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) were handed a tough opening draw, facing Olympic champions Team Jacobs.

Jacobs took a 4-2 lead after five ends, but Murdoch scored two in end six and then stole singles in ends seven and eight for the victory.

Their next opponent was local favourites Team Laycock – it was an extremely tight encounter that was 4-4 going into an extra end, but crucially Murdoch had hammer in the extra and scored one to win 5-4.

That win put them one game away from the playoffs – in their way, Team Gushue.

Gushue held a 5-2 lead into end eight but Murdoch managed to score three to force an extra – the Canadian rink, though, scored two to win the game 7-5 and reach the last eight.

Murdoch were not waiting long to join them however, thanks to a win in their next game against the young Canadians of Team Bottcher.

Bottcher lead 3-2 after four ends, but twos for Murdoch in ends five and eight meant a 6-5 victory and wrapped up a playoff spot.

Also making the playoffs were Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Sarah Reid), who recorded a similar W3 L1 record on the women’s side of the event.

They began with a 5-4 win over Team Carey, scoring twos in ends three and five, before stealing one in end six to put the game out of Carey’s reach.

Their next result was a loss, however, as they were outgunned by world champions Team Pätz of Switzerland.

The Swiss rink scored three in end two, stole two in end three and scored another three in end seven to win 9-3.

That meant the Scots dropped down to the B-Road, where they faced another Swiss test – but this time it was Muirhead who won with a big score.

A three in end three put them in a strong position, strengthened by two in end five and finished off by four in end seven for a 10-3 victory.

That set up a B-Road qualifier against Team Tirinzoni, the third consecutive Swiss opponent for Muirhead, and the Scots started well with a steal of two in end three.

Tirinzoni pulled the game back to 3-2, but a three in end six and a steal of one in end seven secured the win 7-2 and with it a quarter-final place.

Come the playoffs, Murdoch faced Team Carruthers and were on the back foot as early as end two, when the Canadians scored three.

The teams exhanged ones up to end seven, when Carruthers scored two for a 6-3 lead – then running Murdoch out of stones for the win.

Murdoch had fallen then, and Muirhead faced a similarly tough quarter final against Team Sweeting.

In what was a nightmare start for opposing skip Val Sweeting, the Scots took a 4-0 lead after four ends thanks to three consecutive steals of one, their opponents passing up opportunities for a couple of big ends.

Sweeting, undeterred, scored three in end five and two in end seven to bring the game back to 5-5 – but Muirhead held hammer in end eight and scored her one to win 6-5.

The semi finals pitted Muirhead against Team Jones, gold medal winners in Sochi.

The first half of the game was one of forces, each rink taking ones for a 2-2 scoreline after end four.

But Jones turned the screw after that, stealing one in end five and then twos in ends six and seven to win the game 7-2 and knock Muirhead out.

Jones started well in the women’s final against Team Homan, scoring two in end one and three in end three, but steals of one in ends five and six put Homan into a 6-5 lead.

Jones scored two in end seven but Homan replied with a two of their own in end eight to win 8-7 for their third Grand Slam title of an already extraordinary season.

The final match of the event was the men’s final, between Teams Epping and Gushue.

Both teams were unbeaten up to this point, but skip John Epping had been gaining a reputation for pulling off spectacular angle raises.

Gushue were simply overrun by their opponents, who scored twos in ends two and four courtesy of their skip making those raises look simple, before a double takeout scored three in end six – Gushue shaking hands at 7-4.

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Back in Scotland, the Scottish Curling Mixed Doubles Championship was held in Braehead from Thursday to Sunday.

At stake, the right to represent Scotland at the World Mixed Doubles Championship in Karlstad, Sweden, in April – with increased attention on the discipline following news that mixed doubles curling will be a medal event at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The pair of Bruce Mouat and Gina Aitken topped the round robin, with six wins and just one loss, followed by Lee McCleary/Judith McCleary and Grant Hardie/Abi Brown, both W5 L2.

There was a tiebreaker for the final semi-final spot, with John Duff/Hailey Duff coming out on top against Ross Whyte/Sophie Jackson 8-6.

In the last four, Mouat/Aitken scored three in end three and stole one in end six on their way to a 6-3 win over Duff/Duff.

Scotland’s last representatives at the World Mixed event, the McClearys, were beaten in the other semi, as Hardie/Brown scored four in end four and stole two in end seven to win 9-4.

In the final, Mouat/Aitken had the fast start, scoring twos in ends one and three and stealing two in end four for a 6-1 lead.

However, Hardie/Brown stole three in end six to put themselves right back in it at 6-5.

Mouat and Aitken, though, maintained their composure, scoring one in end seven and stealing one in end eight after Brown’s attempted raise takeout was narrowly off target.

That meant an 8-5 triumph for Mouat and Aitken, securing their place as Scotland’s representatives in Sweden in April 2016.

Bruce Mouat told British Curling afterwards: “It is very special to win a national title and to go on to represent your country at a World Championship is a great honour.

“Gina and I have not had a great amount of practice leading up to the Mixed Doubles but my rink has enjoyed good results so I knew the form was there, even though for the doubles it is different as you have more stones in play.

“Our first few games went well so that helped to have a few wins under the belt, we then had a slight dip on Saturday and in the final I missed a hit in the sixth end and left Gina in a difficult position and our opponents were able to score a three there.

“But my team has a saying which is ‘bin it’ if you miss a shot, which basically means don’t over think it and just move on. Throughout the tournament we have been consistent.”

Weekend round-up: Team Brewster’s American dream

Team Brewster tasted glory at the Curling Night in America event involving Chinese, Japanese and US rinks, in a weekend which also featured the Scottish men’s junior qualifiers and the Canada Cup of Curling.

The Brewster rink (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan) faced Teams Zang (China), Morozumi (Japan) and Schuster (USA) in the men’s competition, a double round robin.

They opened with a 7-6 win over Zang, but then lost 10-7 against Morozumi (the Japanese rink scoring six in end four) and 5-4 to Schuster.

However, from there they went on a great run, beating Zang 6-3 and Morozumi 6-4 to set up a decisive rematch with Schuster, who topped the table with four wins.

Brewster won the game 5-4 (with a two in end eight) for their fourth victory, which meant a draw shot challenge to decide who claimed the title – and it was the Scots who came out on top.

The Scottish women’s team in Eveleth, Minnesota, was skipped by Hannah Fleming – she was joined by Sophie Jackson, Laura Ritchie and Karina Aitken.

They played Teams Mei (China), Fujisawa (Japan) and Sinclair (USA), and lost their first match 7-5 to Mei.

Fleming’s rink won their next, 4-3 against Fujisawa, but then lost all of their remaining games – 9-5 to Sinclair, 6-4 to Mei, 7-3 to Fujisawa and 7-1 to Sinclair again.

Mei won the women’s title having won five games and lost just one.

There was also a mixed doubles event, in which Scotland was represented by Jen Dodds and Alasdair Schreiber.

The Scots began with two 8-3 wins, over Japan and then China, but then lost four successive games – 8-4 against Japan, 7-5 and 10-2 to the USA and finally 13-7 to China.

The USA won the mixed title, but China’s three wins – combined with their five wins in the women’s event and three in the men’s – meant they were overall Curling Night in America champions.

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The Scottish Curling Junior Championships qualifiers brought together 12 men’s teams, divided into two pools – the top four in each group would qualify for the championships at the end of January 2016.

With four wins each, Section A was topped by Teams Brydone and Bryce.

They were joined in qualifying for the championships by Team McNay and also Team Joiner – who defeated Team Carson 7-4 in a tiebreaker after both finished the round robin on W2 L3 records.

Team Mouat headed up Section B, also with four wins – the other qualifiers were Teams Whyte, Barr and Hay.

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In the Canada Cup, a Curling Canada event with the reward of an early spot in the Canadian Olympic trials, the women’s final was won by Team Homan, who saw off Team Sweeting 8-7 after an extra end.

In the men’s final, Team Koe defeated Team McEwen 7-3, as skip Kevin Koe made a fine double takeout to score three and seal the game.

GSOC Masters: McEwen and Homan win titles as Scots make early exits

There was disappointment for the Scottish teams competing at the Grand Slam of Curling Masters in Truro, Nova Scotia, both making early exits before Teams McEwen and Homan picked up the men’s and women’s titles respectively.

In the men’s competition, Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) were drawn in a group alongside Teams Edin, Epping, Gushue and Howard.

They began against Howard, and took a 3-2 lead into the fourth end break. However, a score of four in end six for Howard proved critical, the Canadians running out 7-5 winners.

Murdoch then lost to Epping, largely due to a disastrous start which saw them 5-0 down after two ends – Epping winning 7-3 after six ends.

The Scottish rink did win their next match, however – against world champions Edin of Sweden. With skip Murdoch shooting 95%, they scored twos in the first two ends to come out 6-1 victors.

But to make the playoffs Murdoch would need to do what very few teams have managed this season and defeat Team Gushue.

It proved a bridge too far, the Canadians scoring twos in ends two, six and seven for a 7-3 win.

Gushue went out in the quarter finals following a nasty fall on the ice by their skip, which saw play halt on all sheets as he received medical attention – although he somehow managed to return to play towards the end of the match.

The final was played between Teams Cotter and McEwen, and it was McEwen who took the game and the title 5-3 – with their skip shooting an extraordinary 99%.

As for the women’s side of the competition, Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Sarah Reid) faced Teams Einarson, Feltscher, McDonald and Sweeting in the pool stage.

In their opening match, Einarson, the Tour Challenge tier 2 winners, pulled off a shock by stealing two in end four and scoring three in end six for a 7-6 win.

The Muirhead rink were back to winning ways in their next game, stealing two in end two for a 3-0 lead and holding on to beat McDonald 5-4.

But a defeat to Team Feltscher, 6-5, meant that the Scots would need to beat Team Sweeting to give themselves a chance at making the playoffs.

Steals in ends six and eight gave Sweeting a 5-2 win, Muirhead going out on the same record as Murdoch, W1 L3.

Three of the four semi finalists – Teams Einarson, McDonald and Sweeting – came from Muirhead’s group, Sweeting seeing off Einarson 5-3 to set up a final with Team Homan.

But it was Homan who were dominant in the final – Rachel Homan mirroring Mike McEwen with 99% and her skip Emma Miskew shooting 94% – as they won 6-4 to claim their third Masters title in three years.

Stockholm Ladies Curling Cup: Team Muirhead take second spot

Team Muirhead defeated both 2015 Women’s World Championship finalists on their way to the Stockholm Ladies Curling Cup final, where they were beaten by the in-form and firing Team Homan of Canada.

Muirhead’s runners-up spot brought with it prize money of 60,000 Swedish Krona (around ÂŁ4,700) and indicated that they are steadily building into the season, having made the quarter finals of the first Grand Slam of Curling event of 2015-16 earlier in the month.

The team (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Sarah Reid) were one of three Scottish rinks to participate in the Curling Champions Tour event.

However, neither Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Lorna Vevers, Alice Spence, Abi Brown) nor Team Gray (Lauren Gray, Jen Dodds, Vicki Wright, Mhairi Baird) were able to win a match – despite coming close to a couple of notable upsets.

Team Fleming were drawn in a group with Olympic champions Team Jones of Canada, Team Sidorova of Russia, Team Jäggi from Switzerland and Team Kauste of Finland.

Their first match was against Sidorova, and they had a disastrous start, going 6-0 down after just three ends – and they were unable to recover, eventually losing 7-4.

They were then beaten 9-4 by Team Jäggi, before facing Team Jones.

The Scots came so close to pulling off a major surprise, taking a 6-3 lead into the eighth end, but a four for Jones at the death saw the 2015 Women’s World Championship silver medallists escape with a 7-6 win.

Team Fleming then lost 6-4 to Team Kauste, meaning that despite some positive performances they finished the competition on no wins and four defeats.

Team Gray’s pool contained Swiss world champions Team Pätz, Team Sigfridsson of Sweden, Team Matsumura from Japan and Team Barbezat, also of Switzerland.

Like Team Fleming, their first match saw them get off to a poor start – leaking points to Team Sigfridsson to go down 8-1 after five ends.

They performed much better against Team Pätz, matching their Swiss counterparts all the way to the eighth end, only to give up three right at the finale to lose 6-5.

However, they were unable to take momentum from giving the world champions such a scare, losing their remaining group games 8-4 to Matsumura and 5-4 to Barbezat (the latter after an extra end).

As for Team Muirhead, they were in a group alongside Team Feltscher of Switzerland, two Swedish teams – Östlund and WranĂĽ – and Team Nielsen from Denmark.

Their opening game, against Östlund, went toe-to-toe all the way, with the Swedes going into the eighth end 6-5 up – and then stealing one to win the match 7-5.

They bounced back with a 9-3 win over Team Nielsen – sealed by a steal of four in end seven – and then defeated Team Feltscher 8-5.

A 6-4 win over Team Wranü saw them safely into the quarter finals with a P4 W3 L1 record.

There they came up against Team Pätz, and took the Swiss rink down 8-0, stealing two in end three and another five in end four.

In the semi finals, another five-ender put Team Muirhead 7-2 up on Team Jones, and they saw out the victory in a very high-scoring match, 11-7.

So the title decider was fought out between Team Muirhead and the rink which beat them in the Tour Challenge quarter finals, Team Homan.

The Canadians got into the swing of things quicker than their opponents, stealing singles in ends one and two, but Team Muirhead got back on track with a three in end three.

Team Homan took a 4-3 lead at the half-way mark and then stole two further singles to stretch their lead to 6-3.

That was too much for the Scots to make up, the final score being 7-5 – highlights of the match here.

It was, however, a very solid weekend’s competition for Team Muirhead – who next compete in Basel from October 9.

For pictures from the competition, visit the event’s Facebook photo albums page here.

Stu Sells Oakville Tankard: Canadians triumph, Fleming and Murdoch show promise

Teams Gushue and Homan took the men’s and women’s honours at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard, but there was good early season form on show from Scottish teams Fleming and Murdoch too.

The first World Curling Tour event of the year attracted big names including 2014 Olympic champions Team Jones and current world champions Team Edin and Team Pätz.

The format was a triple knock-out, with A, B and C roads leading to quarter finals on Sunday night, then semi finals and finals on Monday.

Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Lorna Vevers, Alice Spence and Abi Brown) were dealt an early blow when they lost 8-5 to Team Liu of China, conceding four in the eighth end.

However, they bounced back in their next match, eking out a 5-4 win over Team Driendl, before going on to beat Canadians Team Carlson 6-5, with a score of three in end six and a steal of one in end seven proving pivotal.

An 8-3 win over Team Hastings, again of Canada, came next – as they claimed steals in ends one, two, five and eight – and that set up a big tie against Team Sweeting.

Team Fleming held their own against the 2015 Scotties finalists, drawing level at 4-4 in the sixth end, but Sweeting claimed scores of one in ends seven and eight to win 6-4.

That bumped Team Fleming down to the C road, and their Oakville Tankard journey was over as Team Liu beat them again, this time 6-0 – having scored two in end one, the Chinese rink claimed steals of one in ends two, three, four and five to force the concession.

The women’s event was won by Team Homan, who raced into a 5-1 lead over Team Pätz in the final before seeing it out 5-4. It’s Rachel Homan and co who go into the first Grand Slam of Curling event (the Tour Challenge, beginning today) in the hottest early season form.

In the men’s competition, Scotland was represented by Team Murdoch, who matched their Basel Masters performance by reaching the quarter finals again.

After a 6-5 extra end victory over Team Harris of Canada, the Scots fell to a 7-6 loss to Team Walker, also of Canada and also in an extra end.

A second consecutive defeat – 8-6 versus Canadians Team Retchless – dropped Team Murdoch down to the C road, but they kept themselves alive with a 5-4 win over Team Plys (USA).

Two extra end 6-5 victories over Canadian rinks – Team Balsdon and Team Desjardins – saw Team Murdoch into the quarter finals the long way round.

Unfortunately they were swept aside in their last eight clash with Team Carruthers – losing 7-0 – as Carruthers marched into the semis and then the final, where they lost an all-Canadian encounter against Team Gushue by a 5-3 scoreline.