First Grand Slam final for Team Smith at Tour Challenge

 

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Team Smith made their first Grand Slam final this weekend (photo: Anil Mungal/thegrandslamofcurling.com)

Team Smith battled through to their first ever Grand Slam final at the GSOC Tour Challenge, ultimately falling to back-to-back Slam winners Team Edin.

Elsewhere, Team Fraser won the SCT Forfar Open and three Scottish teams competed at the ZO International Women’s Tournament in Switzerland – Teams G Aitken and Muirhead exiting at the quarter-final stage.

Team Jackson won the World Junior B Playdown against Team K Aitken, while the National Masters and Baljaffray Trophy also took place.

***

The GSOC Tour Challenge, in Cranbrook, British Columbia, was organised in two tiers for men’s and women’s teams, and involved five Scottish rinks.

Teams Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) took part in men’s tier 1.

Murdoch began with an 8-4 loss to Team Ulsrud of Norway, then were beaten 8-5 by Team Jacobs (losing a five in end five).

Despite an 11-5 victory over Team Koe (stealing five in end eight), an 8-3 reverse against Team Morris saw them exit on a W1 L3 record.

Smith also started with a defeat, 9-4 to Team Nichols (giving up five in end five), but recovered to post wins against Team Carruthers (6-1), Team Thomas (8-7) and Team Epping (6-4) to progress to the playoffs.

In men’s tier 2, Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan) – Scotland’s representative at the upcoming Europeans in Braehead, of course – also made the playoffs courtesy of victories against Team Schneider (7-2), Team Bice (5-4) and Team Lyburn (8-3), their only defeat coming against Team Joanisse (9-4).

Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Derrick Sloan, Gregor Cannon), also in men’s tier 2, made a good start – beating Team Geall 9-5 – but then lost to Team Balsdon (6-4).

Mouat defeated Team Clark 8-2 to give themselves hope of making the playoffs, but a 6-4 loss to Team Gunnlaugson tipped them into a tiebreaker with Bice, which they lost 7-4.

And in women’s tier 2, Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) were victors against Team Galusha (9-4) and Team Tippin (7-6) but were beaten by Team Brown (10-4) andTeam Kleibrink (6-3), which mean a tiebreaker with Team Harrison, the Canadians winning that 6-4.

Come the playoffs, Brewster went down 5-2 against Joanisse in the men’s tier 2 quarter-finals, which left Smith as the sole Scottish rink remaining.

In the quarter-finals against Carruthers, Smith scored three in end three and stole two in end six on their way to a 7-5 win, putting them into the last four and up against Ulsrud.

Smith scored two in end one but the match went down to the wire, 5-5 after eight ends, the Scots taking their one with hammer in the extra end to make the final.

There they met Edin, who had lost their first two matches in Cranbrook but – as they often do – found form when they needed it to win their tiebreaker and then keep rolling through the playoffs.

And they proved too strong for Smith here, scoring two in end two, stealing one in the third and adding three in end five for a 7-3 victory – and their second successive Grand Slam title.

Team Smith’s coach Viktor Kjall said: “It has been an impressive week from the team and they played with confidence, determination and exactly executed their gameplan.”

“It is an incredible performance from such a young team competing in their second slam to reach a final and it is one of the biggest achievements in Grand Slam history.

“At the moment they can beat any team in the world but they still have to work hard if they want to break into the top 10 in the world.”

Women’s tier 1 was claimed by Team Sweeting (8-5 winners over Team Englot in the final), while Team Balsdon won men’s tier 2 and Team Harrison women’s tier 2.

For photos from the event, see the GSOC gallery here… and of course Ben Hebert returned to present another edition of the ‘Sheet Show’…

***

Sixteen teams travelled to Forfar for another Scottish Curling Tour event, which came just one weekend after the Edinburgh International.

The 12 men’s and four women’s teams – from Canada, England and Ireland as well as the host nation – played out group matches to decide the quarter-final line-up.

Those last eight matches pitted Team Bryce against Team Hardie (Hardie won 6-1), Team Fraser versus Team D Wilson (Fraser took it 5-2), Team Taylor up against Team Telfer (Taylor coming through 5-4) and – in the women’s quarter – Team Ward against Team M Wilson (Ward, the English women’s team preparing for European B-Division in Braehead, winning 9-4).

In the semi-finals, Hardie overcame Ward 6-2 and Fraser defeated Taylor 5-2.

Hardie have become accustomed to winning SCT events over the past couple of seasons but it was not to be this time, as Fraser (Ally Fraser, Ruairidh Greenwood, Calum Greenwood, Angus Dowell) scored twos in ends one, three and seven in taking the match and the silverware 7-6.

Photos from the event are available on the SCT blog pages here.

***

The International ZO Women’s Tournament in Wetzikon, Switzerland, attracted three Scottish entries.

Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) – like Team Brewster, counting down the days to be the home team at Europeans – took their place in the quarter-finals courtesy of round-robin victories against Teams Szeliga-Frynia (4-3), Nielsen (5-3), Lundman (9-3) and Bugnon (8-5), before a 7-2 loss to Team Barbezat with qualification already secured.

Team Aitken (Gina Aitken, Rowena Kerr, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen) joined Muirhead in the last eight – on draw shot ranking – having won against Teams Maillard (4-2), Mathis (6-5) and Kauste (5-4), and losing to Teams Moiseeva (8-5) and Kubeskova (6-5).

The third Scottish rink, Team Smith (Hazel Smith, Sarah Reid, Laura Ritchie, Claire Hamilton), went out with a W1 L4 record, beating Team Strnadova 8-3 but suffering defeats to Teams Baksheeva (6-4), Wrana (5-3), Stern (5-4 after extra end) and Mani (8-5).

The quarter-finals proved the limit for both remaining Scottish teams, Aitken beaten 9-3 by Team Schöpp and Muirhead losing 7-5 against Mani.

Schöpp made the final but ended as runners-up, Barbezat claiming a Swiss victory with a 7-5 win over their German opponents.

***

Back in Scotland, two of the nation’s top junior women’s teams contested a playdown to decide who would fly the Saltire at the World Junior B Championships.

Team Aitken (Karina Aitken, Rebecca Morrison, Hailey Duff, Laura Barr) took the first game of the best-of-five series by a 9-8 scoreline.

Their opponents, Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Sophie Sinclair, Mili Smith), hit straight back by taking the second game 9-3.

Again they traded victories, Aitken winning 9-6 and then Jackson 8-3, which set up a decisive fifth match.

This one was lower-scoring than the previous games, Jackson taking a steal of one in end five to lead 2-1 at halfway; Aitken couldn’t wrestle back control of the match and opposing skip Sophie Jackson drew the four foot to score one in end 10 and claim victory 4-3.

Therefore it is Jackson who will represent Scotland at the international tournament in Ostersund, Sweden, from January 3-9, 2017.

***

Finally, to round up the last few events (a very busy week!), the National Masters Curling Championship qualifiers took place at Greenacres – results here – and the latest round of the Asham U17 Slam was held at the same venue later in the week.

The latter competition, the Baljaffray Trophy, drew 24 junior teams – who battled it out to make high and low road finals.

The high road final saw Team Kinnear beat Team Farmer 8-4 to win yet another title in what is already turning into a very successful season for Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean and Matthew McKenzie.

Team Gallacher defeated Team Davie 10-1 for third spot, while in the low road final it was Team Craik who won out, 6-5 against Team Hair.

 

Also this week we had the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships, held in Uiseong, Korea, and the host country claimed gold in the women’s competition.

Team Eunjung Kim and silver medallists China (skipped by Bingyu Wang) both secured qualification for the 2017 World Women’s Curling Championship in Beijing.

As for the men, Japan (skipped by Yusuke Morozumi) won gold ahead of China (Rui Liu) – both teams booked their tickets for next year’s World Men’s in Edmonton, Canada.

Last, but certainly not least for Scotland, the World Wheelchair-B Curling Championships took place in Lohja, Finland.

Not only did the Scots (Aileen Neilson (skip), Gregor Ewan, Hugh Nibloe, Robert McPherson, Angie Malone (alternate)) win silver (beaten 6-4 in the final by the host nation), they also qualified for the 2017 World Wheelchair Curling Championship – and the 2018 Winter Olympics as Great Britain.

You can see Scotland’s full results from Lohja, including their 13-3 semi-final win over England, here.

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Team Jackson victorious in Prague

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EJCT Prague Junior Cup winners, Team Jackson (photo: facebook.com/CurlingChampionsTour)

Team Jackson won the women’s title at the EJCT Prague Junior Cup, defeating Team Gauchat of Switzerland in the final.

Three Scottish teams took part in the first Grand Slam of Curling event of the season, the Masters, with Team Murdoch performing best in making it to the quarter-finals.

Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat also posted a quarter-final finish, theirs coming at the Geising Mixed Doubles, while the Province Championship and U17 Slam at Lanarkshire took place back in Scotland.

***

Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair) travelled to the Czech Republic for the EJCT Prague Junior Cup.

They kicked off their pool stage with a 9-2 win over Team Wuest of Switzerland, scoring two in end four and five, and three in end six.

Team Hoehne of Germany were up next, and the Scots scored two in end two only for the Germans to hit back straight away with three and head into the extra end with hammer. Jackson, however, stole one for the 5-4 victory.

Threes in ends one and two pointed them towards an 8-2 win over Team Cerne of Slovenia, and despite a 6-5 loss to Team Joo (Hungary) they were safely into the semi-finals.

There Jackson met Team Fomm of Germany, and gave up steals in ends four and five to fall 4-1 behind. But two in end six and a steal of three in end seven turned the match on its head, Jackson winning 6-4.

Team Gauchat of Switzerland were their opponents in the final, but it was the Scots who pulled through 7-4 to take the cup!

Skip Sophie Jackson said: “We are really happy with our result this weekend as we had a few tough games and stuck together to grind out the wins.

“It’s great to see our hard work from pre-season paying off with regards to results so far this season.”

***

Three Scottish teams were in Okotoks, Alberta, for the WFG Masters, the opening Grand Slam of Curling tournament of the 2016-17 season.

Teams Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) were drawn in the same pool and they opened against each other.

Murdoch began with three in end one, forced Smith to one and then added a huge four in end three for an almost unassailable 7-1 lead – and so it proved, Smith conceding at 9-2.

Smith, in their first Grand Slam at the elite level (they played in tier 2 of the Tour Challenge last season), claimed a win in their next match – two in end four and a steal of one in end seven seeing them past Team Carruthers 5-3 – but two further losses (6-5 to Team McEwen and 7-5 to Team Morris) saw them exit with a W1 L3 record.

Murdoch edged a tight battle with Morris (5-4) for their second win of the competition, but defeats to Carruthers (5-1) and McEwen (6-5) tipped them into a tiebreaker with Team Koe, the reigning world champions.

A good time for your skip to curl at 100 per cent then – and that’s just what David Murdoch did, as his rink scored two in end three, then three in end five, and stole one in end six, as Koe were beaten 7-3.

The quarter-finals pitted them against the on-song Team Laycock, and this time the Scots fell short, Laycock taking two in end four and stealing one in the fifth in winning 5-3.

The men’s final was contested by Teams Edin and Jacobs. Jacobs led 4-2 into end eight, but the Swedes scored two to force an extra – where they stole one to win the match 5-4, taking their first Grand Slam title and – remarkably – the first men’s Grand Slam won by a non-Canadian team!

Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray), fresh from qualifying for the European Championships and welcoming back Sloan at third, flew the Scottish flag in the women’s event.

First up they faced Team Kim of Korea – they stole two in end one but then gave up five unanswered points in the following four ends, the Koreans eventually winning 6-5.

They then suffered another 6-5 defeat, this time going toe-to-toe with Team Pätz of Switzerland but giving up a steal in end eight, before a first win came against Team Rocque – three in end one, four in end four and three in end six giving them a 10-2 victory.

That set up a must-win match with the reigning Masters champions, Team Homan. Homan took the victory though, 7-5, and Muirhead dropped out on W1 L3.

Despite four of the quarter-finalists being international teams, it was an all-Canadian – indeed an all-Ontario – final between Teams Flaxey and Homan.

Flaxey, having made the playoffs via a tiebreaker, shocked Homan with a four in end five pivotal in their 6-3 victory. Like Edin, this was Flaxey’s first GSOC title.

As an aside, it is very disappointing to see Sportsnet having chosen to end non-Canadian subscriptions to live Grand Slam matches – it means that fans of the international teams playing the tournaments cannot watch them at home, and it will hardly help to grow the sport worldwide.

I hope that curling fans’ passionate pleas for the service’s return will be rewarded.

***

Back in Europe, Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat – who had finished runners-up at the Austrian Mixed Doubles the week before – took part in the CCT Geising Mixed Doubles.

The Scottish pair cruised through the group stage, with wins over Walczak/Knebloch of Poland (10-5), Belarussians Petrova/Petrov (10-3), Poles Szeliga-Frynia/Frynia (8-4) and Kobler/Hess of Switzerland (8-2).

The quarter-finals saw them face Bryzgalova/Krushelnitsky of Russia, who have real pedigree this season – having come third at the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles and then helped Russia to gold at the World Mixed Championship.

The Russians stole in ends two, three and four to lead 3-0, before Aitken/Mouat got on the board with two in end five. The Russian pair scored four in end six though, and stole another one in the seventh end for an 8-2 win.

And it was Bryzgalova/Krushelnitsky who won the title, beating Hajkova/Paul of the Czech Republic 8-5 in the final.

***

Lanarkshire Ice Rink hosted the second Asham Under 17 Slam of the season, with 24 teams involved.

The rinks being divided into six sections, the pool stage delivered two high road and two low road quarter-finals, all the knockout matches played on the Sunday.

In the high road quarters, Team Craik scored two in end one and three in end four in beating Team Gallacher 6-4, while Team Haswell cruised past Team Hair 6-1.

Haswell won again in the semis, scoring two in end four and stealing one in the sixth end for a 4-3 victory over Team Davie, while Team Kinnear overpowered Craik 7-0.

The high road final saw Haswell take a 3-0 lead after two ends, but Kinnear roared back with three in the third end, then steals of one, two and one in the next three ends.

That secured Kinnear (Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean and Matthew McKenzie) a 7-3 victory and their second U17 Slam title of the season.

Third spot went to Craik, courtesy of a 3-1 win over Davie, while Henderson defeated Lyon 7-6 after an extra end in the low road final.

Across in Greenacres, 28 teams took part in the Scottish Province Championship.

A pool stage determined which rinks would make the quarter-finals. There, North Eastern defeated Border 5-4, Central beat Cupar 7-4, Renfrewshire 12th edged Galloway 5-4 and Ayrshire 1 saw off Moray 7-4.

Come the semi-finals, Renfrewshire 12th overcame Ayrshire 1 5-3 thanks to two in end five and a steal of one in eight, and Central won a ding-dong battle with North Eastern 8-7 – after the rinks had traded fours in ends two and three, Central scored two in end four and stole singles in ends five and six, then just about held on for the victory.

Renfrewshire 12th (Eric Richardson, Doug Kerr, Fraser Davidson, Margaret Richardson) came through as champions, defeating Central 7-6 in the high road final, scoring two in end three, three in end five and their one with hammer in end eight.

Stirlingshire won the low road final, 9-2 against North & South Esk.

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.

***

bryce braehead jnrs
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.

Season review Q&As – part one

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Scottish Juniors winners, Teams Jackson (back) and Mouat (photo: RCCC/Brian Battensby (brianbatphotography.co.uk))

To look back on the season just gone, I asked several Scottish and British teams six questions about the tournaments they’ve played in, how they’ve played and what their future prospects are.

Add in a couple of not-so-serious questions, and here we are.

My thanks go to Tom Brewster, Anna Fowler, Lauren Gray, Grant Hardie, Sophie Jackson, Ben Fowler and Bruce Mouat for the following answers.

***

Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan)
Q: At which competition do you feel you played best as a team?
A: The Scottish Men’s Championship in Perth. We had great preparation going into the event and once the event got underway we felt at the top of our game all week.

Q: Which event did you enjoy most (atmosphere/socially)?
A: Curling Night in America. This was a staged event for NBC between Scotland, USA, China and Japan. As it was not on the tour it was very relaxed and fun to play in.

Q: What was your shot of the year?
A: My best shot of the year was against the USA at the World Men’s Championship – last shot of the 10th end and we needed two to go to an extra. I played a double raise takeout to get it.

Q: Name and shame time. Which team member had the most embarrassing moment this season?
A: It would have to be Hammy! There are too many moments to mention and some which I can’t!!

Q: Team Muirhead played the end of the season with a couple of ‘super subs’. If you needed a sub from one of the teams you’ve played this season, who would it be and why?
A: Kevin Koe. He’s just such a great shot maker.

Q: Finally, at what stage are you regarding next season?
A: Planning started before the season ended. The tour schedule for next season has not been finalised but we have a rough idea of the events we want to play in. We plan our season around peaking at the European playoffs in October and the Scottish Men’s Championship in February. The tournament and training schedule is then fitted so we peak at these events.

***

Team Fowler (Anna Fowler, Hetty Garnier, Angharad Ward, Lauren Pearce, Naomi Robinson)
Q: At which competition do you feel you played best as a team?
A: We had a really great week in Esbjerg at the Europeans and were just one shot away from the A Group. It was fantastic to see all the hard work we’d put in nearly pay off. We also had a good weekend in Perth at the Ladies International in April – we were the second-placed British team after Eve Muirhead’s rink, a great achievement for us as a non-funded team.

Q: Which event did you enjoy most (atmosphere/socially)?
A: The European Championship is always the most special event for us, and Esbjerg was no different. We’ve played against the same international teams for years, so now it’s always good to catch up with friends from abroad at these events. The layout at Esbjerg was superb with the A and B halls next to each other, and we had a lot of support from home, so that helped make the atmosphere extra special.

Q: What was your shot of the year?
A: At the Europeans, I made a great double takeout with the last stone against Turkey in the tie-breakers to win the game and put us through to the semi-finals against Italy. The girls have all played so well this season, so I know there are a lot of brilliant shots I should be crediting them for too!

when you see it
When you see it…

Q: Name and shame time. Which team member had the most embarrassing moment this season? 
A: We hosted a charity bonspiel in December for the Princes Trust raising over £2,500. The event photographer was really keen to get a photo with the girls in their England kit, but when we got the photo back, we couldn’t stop laughing!!

Q: If you needed a ‘super sub’ from one of the teams you’ve played this season, who would it be and why?
A: We’ve had a fair few super subs ourselves this season – Lorna Retig, Lucy Sparks and Rhiann Macleod, to name a few! They would always be top of the list to help us out if we were in need again.

Q: Finally, at what stage are you regarding next season?
A: We already have a lot planned for next season. As usual, the Europeans in November are our main focus, so the front end of the season is heavily loaded with lots of competitions and training. Also, being at Braehead this year (a second home for us), we are even more determined to get onto the podium in one of the top two spots. After another fun and successful season together, we will be keeping the line-up the same for 2016-2017. I believe we’ve got great potential and a lot more to give, so watch this space!

***

Team Gray (Lauren Gray, Jen Dodds, Vicky Wright, Mhairi Baird)
Q: At which competition do you feel you played best as a team?
A: I feel Team Gray’s best team performance was at the Dumfries International event in December 2015. We brought together a lot of the process points we had been working on in the first half of the season, and succeeded in our first final as a result of that.

Team Gray With Dumfries Challenger Series Trophy - David Owen
Team Gray, CCT Lely Dumfries Challenge winners (photo: David Owen)

Q: Which event did you enjoy most (atmosphere/socially)?
A: We enjoyed the Shorty Jenkins Classic in Canada the most, from a social perspective. There was live music and food provided at the rink on the Saturday night, and the teams were seated at mixed tables in an informal manner, which encouraged different teams to get to know each other.

Q: What was your shot of the year?
A: My shot of the year, for me as an individual, would probably be drawing the button against Daniela Driendl in the semi final of Dumfries CCT to progress to the final. It was a great team shot with tricky line call and perfect sweeping from the front end.

Q: Name and shame time. Which team member had the most embarrassing moment this season?
A: Most embarrassing moment in the team this year would be Mhairi falling on the ice in Bern. She was sweeping a shot and was looking at the stone so did not see the guards in play to the right of her feet, they swept her feet away from under her and she went down. To be fair, she managed to not burn any of the stones in play which we were proud of her for.

Q: If you needed a ‘super sub’ from one of the teams you’ve played this season, who would it be and why?
A: Our team would ask Silvana Tirinzoni from Team Tirinzoni. She has made multiple finals on the Curling Champions Tour this year and we would like her to play for us in order to learn from her tactics and processes in order to obtain that success.

Q: Finally, at what stage are you regarding next season?
A: The team line-ups will be decided and submitted by the end of May, and the schedules will be decided quickly after that in June, to allow planning, booking and prep time.

***

Team Hardie (Grant Hardie, Blair Fraser, David Reid, Billy Morton)
Q: At which competition do you feel you played best as a team?
A: Tough question as we never really put a complete tournament together all year; we played some of our best curling at the Scottish Championships, but the inconsistency is what probably cost us in the end.

Q: Which event did you enjoy most (atmosphere/socially)?
A: Mike Ferguson puts on a fantastic social weekend at the Forfar Open but we also really enjoyed the Scottish Championships. Unfortunately we got knocked out early, but Perth had plenty to offer and kept us busy during the weekend.

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Grant Hardie (photo: Tom J Brydone (facebook.com/brydoneimages))

Q: What was your shot of the year?
A: Nose hit to beat Team Smith in their “grudge match” at the Scottish.

Q: Name and shame time. Which team member had the most embarrassing moment this season?
A: Collective answer here… we lost to Team Macleod once.

Q: If you needed a ‘super sub’ from one of the teams you’ve played this season, who would it be and why?
A: Duncan Menzies – he must have averaged about 40% when he played us this season but kept beating us. We played quite a few games at 40% but lost them all, so hopefully he would teach us how it’s done.

Q: Finally, at what stage are you regarding next season?
A: Early stages yet but discussions have been had and we will be looking to take on a heavier schedule next season. Any news regarding the schedule will be announced via our Facebook page as soon we finalise plans.

***

Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen)
Q: At which competition do you feel you played best as a team?
A: The Scottish Juniors (we won!).

Q: Which event did you enjoy most (atmosphere/socially)?
A: A competition we played in Canada, the Thames Valley Junior Bonspiel in London, Ontario.

Q: What was your shot of the year?
A: A cross house double we made in the eighth end against Turkey in the World Juniors with my first stone to set up a three, which was big for us. It had been a tough week for us to keep going and this just gave us a bit of a boost.

Q: Name and shame time. Which team member had the most embarrassing moment this season?
A: Naomi has countless to remember and name. She is definitely the provider of entertainment in the team. One time we had practice in Dumfries, we all got to the rink apart from Naomi so we decided to look for her on ‘find my friends’… we saw that she was in Braehead! Rachel phoned Naomi and confirmed she was in Braehead – she thought we were practising there! Naomi made it down to Dumfries with 20 minutes of practice left. She then tells us she had travelled from Stranraer to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Braehead and then Braehead to Dumfries and it was only midday!

Q: If you needed a ‘super sub’ from one of the teams you’ve played this season, who would it be and why?
A: Johanna Heldin (Team Lundman) because she is a great sweeper and can play in any position throughout the team.

Q: Finally, at what stage are you regarding next season?
A: We are in the midst of planning our competition schedule for next season and are also in the process of confirming our line-up.

***

Team MacDougall (Alan MacDougall, Andrew Reed, Andrew Woolston, Thomas Jaeggi, Ben Fowler)
Q: At which competition do you feel you played best as a team?
A: We only played four competitions as a team this season so there’s a limited selection. The team played really well during the English playdowns though, which was a good win for us.

Q: Which event did you enjoy most (atmosphere/socially)?
A: The European Men’s Championship is always a really good competition to participate in. The atmosphere is always tense and there’s lots of old friends playing (and some new). The venue was a little small this year though, so we’re looking forward to playing at Braehead 2016.

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England men at 2015 Europeans (photo: WCF)

Q: What was your shot of the year?
A: I actually have two best shots of the season. Both in the third end of our game vs Austria at the Europeans. They secured us a five and essentially the game. I’ve attached videos!

Q: Name and shame time. Which team member had the most embarrassing moment this season?
A: In one of our games at the Europeans I had been struggling with t-weight. Late in the game Alan asked for a barrier weight from me. Andy W turned to me and said “your t-weight then”. The umpire overheard and burst out laughing. She had clearly noticed how bad my t-weight was!

Q: If you needed a ‘super sub’ from one of the teams you’ve played this season, who would it be and why?
A: Ben Hebert to show us how to sweep like a boss!

Q: Finally, at what stage are you regarding next season?
A: Next year will unfortunately be our last season as a team. We are however very motivated to go out with a bang and hopefully promote England to the A group on semi-home turf.

***

Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Duncan Menzies, Bobby Lammie, Gregor Cannon, Angus Dowell)
Q: At which competition do you feel you played best as a team?
A: Over the season we played very well as a team. For me, I first noticed that we were playing well on our first trip to Canada when we played in Gatineau. This then showed at other competitions including the World Juniors.

Q: Which event did you enjoy most (atmosphere/socially)?
A: The Grand Slam Of Curling Champions Cup. Getting to play in our first Grand Slam was a great way to end our season. For nearly every draw we played, the stadium was near full and the atmosphere was great. It was also a great feeling to be able to socialise with amazing curlers who have achieved so much.

Q: What was your shot of the year?
A: My shot of the year would be the shot I played against USA in the 1v2 page playoff at the World Juniors. We played a hack weight take out through a port to score three that was pretty much swept from the hand. That secured our spot in the gold medal game.

Q: Name and shame time. Which team member had the most embarrassing moment this season?
A: I can’t really think of anything that shameful. I guess Gregor got us lost with his lack of directional skills in Canada but then he’ll probably blame Alan [Hannah, coach].

Q: If you needed a ‘super sub’ from one of the teams you’ve played this season, who would it be and why?
A: Well having Robin [Brydone] at the Worlds came in handy when Bobby became unwell but if we could ask anyone we would probably ask someone like Brad Gushue or Mark Nichols. They don’t miss much.

Q: Finally, at what stage are you regarding next season?
A: Still working a few things out for now.

***

Look out for ‘Season reviews – part two’ coming soon!

Team Mouat win World Juniors gold

mouat win world juniors
Team Mouat celebrate World Juniors gold (photo: Tom Brydone (facebook.com/brydoneimages))

Scotland’s Team Mouat won men’s gold at the World Junior Curling Championships in Denmark, defeating the USA in the final.

By contrast, it was a chastening week for Scotland women, as they lost seven games and were relegated to the B-Division for next season.

In Canada, Team Kevin Koe claimed the Brier title and will represent their country at the World Men’s Curling Championship in Switzerland.

***

At the World Juniors in Copenhagen, Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Gregor Cannon, Angus Dowell, Robin Brydone (alternate)) shook off an uneven start – beating Norway 7-4 but then losing 7-6 to the USA after an extra end – by reeling off five straight round robin wins.

They scored three in end nine and stole three in end 10 to overcome Canada 10-7, before beating Turkey 13-4, Sweden 9-2, Korea 10-3 and Russia 10-2.

Despite a 10-4 loss to Switzerland (third Bobby Lammie feeling unwell and unable to sweep), they finished their round robin with an 8-2 win over Denmark that proved enough to make it into the 1v2 page playoff game.

There, they scored two in end seven and three in end 10 to beat the USA 7-5, skip Bruce Mouat drawing the port for the winning shot.

Korey Dropkin’s US side won their semi-final against Switzerland (who then lost the bronze medal match to Canada) to set up a third match of the week against the Scots.

In the final, Scotland blanked the first end and in the second Mouat drew for a 2-0 lead. The US were forced to one in end three, before Mouat hit for two and a 4-1 lead in the fourth.

The sides then traded ones, so Scotland held a 6-3 lead and hammer into end 10, where they ran the US out of stones to win 6-4 and claim gold!

Skip Mouat said afterwards: “It was a really good and close final. My guys knew what they had to do today and because of that we were able to control things.

“The team has been awesome all week and I am really chuffed for the guys. I feel we really deserve this.

“We knew it was our last chance as a team to win the title. We had the same vision and same goal before the start of this week and we agreed we wouldn’t settle for anything less than gold.

“That added to the pressure and it has been a roller-coaster of a week; we had a few missed shots in some of the games as well as a bit of illness in the team to contend with, including today as Bobby still wasn’t feeling 100% in the final.

“But we had a great fifth man in Robin. He is exactly what you need from a fifth player and he got to play in one game, so he played his part in all of this.”

Unfortunately it was a very different week for Scotland women (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen, Katie Murray (alternate)), despite them winning their opening game 6-4 against Japan.

The team then suffered defeats against Hungary (10-6), Korea (6-5), Sweden (7-6), the USA (8-4) and Russia (5-2), before finally coming out on top in a close match, scoring three in end eight to beat Turkey 7-6.

However, further defeats to Switzerland (11-4) and Canada (6-2) meant they finished the round robin with a W2 L7 record – and so Scotland women will play in the Junior B-Division next season.

Canada won women’s gold, beating the USA 7-4 in the final, while Korea won bronze by defeating Hungary 8-4.

***

The Canadian men’s championship, the Brier, took place in Ottawa over the last week and saw Northern Ontario (Jacobs) finish the round robin with a perfect record of 11 wins and no losses.

They qualified for the 1v2 page playoff along with Newfoundland and Labrador (Gushue) (W9 L2), while Alberta (Kevin Koe) and Manitoba (McEwen) both held W8 L3 records to make it into the 3v4 game.

Before the playoffs, there was time for Craig Savill – who has been battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – to return to the ice and deliver a perfect guard for Ontario. There were few dry eyes in the arena.

Gushue’s rink came back from 4-1 down to win the 1v2 match 7-6 after an extra end, and Koe’s Alberta team won the 3v4 playoff 7-5.

In the semi-final, Alberta overcame Northern Ontario (despite this extraordinary shot from Ryan Fry, below) 6-5 with a two in end 10 – Northern Ontario went on to win bronze, beating Manitoba 7-6 after an extra end.

The final pitted Newfoundland and Labrador against Alberta – the latter started with two steals and scored two in end four, leading 4-2 at halfway.

Gushue’s team stole in end six to claw their way back to 4-3, but Koe made a pick to score three in seven – and Gushue conceded at 9-5 after nine.

So Alberta (Kevin Koe, Mark Kennedy, Brent Laing, Ben Hebert) capped a phenomenal hat-trick for the province at national championships (Team Carey having won the Scotties and Lizmore the Mixed) and they will line up at the World Men’s in April alongside Scotland’s Team Brewster and co.

***

In other events this weekend, the Fleming Trophy was played at Fenton’s rink in Kent.

Anna Fowler and Lauren Pearce (from the England women’s team at the 2015 European Championships) were joined by Lucy Sparks and Sara Jahodova – they won their way through to the final and there they took the victory 6-0.

And in South Korea, the Uiseong Masters took place – involving 10 women’s teams from Canada, Japan, Switzerland and the USA, as well as the host country.

The final was contested between Team Rocque of Canada and Team Tirinzoni of Switzerland – Rocque winning 5-1.