Mouat double up with Oakville Fall Classic title

Mouat win Oakville Fall Classic
Team Mouat with their second trophy in two weeks. Pic: facebook.com/teammouat

Team Mouat have enjoyed a storming start to the season, adding the Biosteel Oakville Fall Classic title to last week’s Stu Sells Oakville Tankard win.

Bruce Mouat shuffled his pack over the off-season, bringing in Grant Hardie and Hammy McMillan, and the results have been instant.

More on them in just a moment, but first here’s what happened at the first Grand Slam of the season…

Solid start for Muirhead

First competition of the new season for Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray), and a run to a Grand Slam semi-final.

The Tour Challenge in Regina, Saskatchewan, provided the first real opportunity for the sport’s big guns to size each other up, and it turns out the British Olympic women measure up well.

They made the playoffs the hard way – beating Harrison and Homan, but losing to Wang and Sweeting, meant a tiebreaker against Tippin, which they won 5-4.

Skip Muirhead then shot 88% to guide her side past Pätz in the quarter-finals, but Hasselborg of Sweden were too strong in the last four, winning 6-5 after a crucial steal of two in end six.

Not a bad platform for Team Muirhead to build on for the rest of the season.

Muirhead told British Curling: “Reaching a Grand Slam semi-final on our first outing of the season is no mean feat.

“The competition out here is the best in the world with the highest level of curling there is.”

Also performing well in their first event of the new season were Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright), who took part in the Tier 2 section in Regina.

Like Muirhead, they won two (against Eberle and Silvernagle) and lost two (versus Feltscher and Sidorova) in the round robin stage, forcing them into a tiebreaker.

Fleming pushed Lawton all the way, but lost out 6-5.

The eventual women’s champions were Team Sweeting (Tier 1) and Team Einarson (Tier 2).

Struggles on men’s side

Things were not quite so promising for Teams Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) and Drummond (Greg Drummond, Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon, Michael Goodfellow) on the men’s side at the Tour Challenge.

There’s plenty of work for Smith to do ahead of the Olympics, underlined by four defeats – to McCormick, Edin, Simmons and Epping – in their Tier 1 pool.

In Tier 2, Drummond managed to go one better than at last week’s Oakville Tankard by winning a game (against Jacobson), but losses to Brown, Gunnlaugson and Lyburn ended their challenge early.

The men’s winners were Team Gushue (Tier 1) and Team Gunnlaugson (Tier 2).

Mouat at the double

Away from the Grand Slam, but still in Canada, Teams Brewster (Tom Brewster, Duncan Menzies, Scott Andrews, Alasdair Schreiber) and Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) took part in the Biosteel Oakville Fall Classic.

Brewster lost their first three pool games (to Mabergs, Kim and Steski), which meant that their victory over Zou was only a consolation.

Mouat, by contrast, cruised through the group stage, beating Retornaz, Baumann, Maus and Dickie to book their passage to the quarter-finals.

Further wins against Horgan (6-5) and Schwaller (8-7, stealing one in an extra end) sent them into the final, where they faced Chang-Min Kim of Korea.

It was a tight match, with only singles scored as it went to an extra end, but Mouat held hammer and scored their one to win 4-3.

That’s two events entered and two titles gained for Team Mouat to start the season, and they’re yet to lose a single match (played 14, won 14).

It’s going to take a good team to stop these boys if they keep this up!

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Bryce and Mouat get Scots off to a flier

Mouat win Oakville Tankard
Team Mouat, 2017 Stu Sells Oakville Tankard winners. Pic: twitter.com/DMurdoch17

That didn’t take long, did it? One week, two events, two Scottish wins in World Curling Tour events.

We’re barely into September, but a slightly altered Team Bryce and a rather more different Team Mouat have already secured their first titles, in Tallinn and Oakville, respectively.

With our first Grand Slam of the season just around the corner, here’s hoping that Scottish curling can carry this initial form further into the season.

Bryce rise to the challenge

While four Scottish teams headed west to Canada, Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle) went east to Estonia, for the Tallinn Challenger.

They cruised through the round robin stage, finishing with four wins (against Teams Truksans, Lill, Svensgaard and Jungen) and no defeats.

They faced Team Eremin (Russia) in the last four, and a 7-3 win put them into the final against Team Gulbis of Latvia.

Again Bryce were just too strong for their opponents, scoring three in end three and stealing two in the fourth on their way to a 7-2 victory and the Tallinn Challenger title.

Skip Cameron Bryce told British Curling: “The whole team played really well, although we are still learning with our change of line-up for the season.”

The team now return to the new National Curling Academy, to prepare for the Braehead Open (September 22-24).

Mouat takes Tankard triumph

Teams Brewster, Drummond, Mouat and Smith ensured Scotland was well represented at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard in Ontario, but it was Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) who finished top of the pile.

I said in my season preview that I was excited to see what these boys could do on tour this season… it looks like I have my answer already.

Things were not so rosy for Team Drummond, though, as they lost to Mouat, McCormick and Deruelle to bow out early.

It’s early days for this rink, certainly, but they will be hoping for more at next week’s GSOC Tour Challenge (Tier 2).

Team Brewster have also rung the changes, and they had something of a rollercoaster in Oakville – a defeat to Fournier to drop onto the B-Road, wins over Corbett and Kim, a loss to Clark, victory over Stjerne, and finally a defeat to McCormick to end their involvement.

Team Smith, by contrast, have kept the same roster (only adding Glen Muirhead as alternate ahead of the Olympics), and they made the quarter-finals in Oakville.

Not that it was a smooth journey. Beaten by Kim first up, they then saw off Zou and Horgan, lost to Simmons to land on the C-Road, but then overcame Fournier and Gunnlaugson to make the playoffs.

Those quarter-finals pitted them against Mouat, who had sailed into the last eight thanks to four straight wins – against Ainsley, Drummond, Horgan and Clark.

Mouat dominated the all-Scottish meeting, taking three in end one, then a steal, and then twos in ends four and six to win it 8-3.

Mouat’s semi-final was tighter, but one in end eight was enough to see off Horgan, setting up a final against Kim of Korea.

The Korean rink scored three in end four to lead 3-1, but twos in ends five and seven, plus a steal in the eighth, gave Mouat a 6-4 victory – making it W7 L0 at the event.

For this team to have gelled this quickly is highly impressive, especially given the quality of the other teams on show.

So that’s $8,000 in the bank for Mouat already; their next event is the Oakville OCT Fall Classic (alongside Brewster) – can they maintain their hot streak?

Muirhead and Murdoch triumph: 2017 Scottish Curling Championships round-up

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CHAMPIONS: David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow. Pic: RCCC/Brian Battensby 2017

Team Murdoch won the men’s title at the Scottish Curling Championships for the first time since claiming their 2014 Winter Olympic silver medals, while Team Muirhead clinched their third women’s title in succession.

Finals day began with Team Muirhead facing Team Fleming in the women’s title decider, and a three in end five and two in end eight gave Eve Muirhead’s rink a 6-4 victory and the skip her seventh title.

Teams Mouat and Murdoch, both on six-game winning runs, collided later in the afternoon, and David Murdoch’s men were ruthless in punishing Mouat mistakes, scoring four in end three and three in the fifth to triumph 10-4.

***

Scottish Curling Championships Ladies Final 25.02.17
WOMEN’S WINNERS: Lauren Gray, Vicki Adams, Anna Sloan and Eve Muirhead. Pic: RCCC/Brian Battensby 2017

Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Glenn Howard (coach)) went unbeaten through the tournament, with six wins in the round robin (see my review here) and victory over Team Smith in the 1v2 page playoff.

They had only just edged by Hazel Smith’s rink in the group stage, stealing two in end 10 to win 11-9, but they did a professional job on the same opponents in the playoff.

Twos in ends four and six propelled them to a 6-3 victory, putting them into the final and tipping Smith into a semi-final against Hannah Fleming’s rink.

Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright, Nancy Smith (coach)) had endured a tough round robin, forcing a tiebreaker by beating Team Gina Aitken in their last match.

There they saw off Team Karina Aitken 8-4, putting them into the semi with Smith.

A third consecutive victory followed, as twos in ends one and three, plus three in end six, won them the match 9-6 and booked their spot in the final.

Team Fleming made the better start to that final, maintaining their composure and preventing the Muirhead rink getting an early jump on them, as it was tied at 1-1 after four ends.

Scottish Curling Championships Ladies Final 25.02.17
RUNNERS-UP: Vicky Wright, Alice Spence, Jen Dodds and Hannah Fleming. Pic: RCCC/Brian Battensby 2017

But a couple of fine shots from Sloan, and loose ones from Fleming, gave Muirhead the opportunity to hit for three, which she duly made for a 4-1 lead at halfway.

Fleming took a single in end six and stole one in end seven to narrow the gap to one, but Muirhead hit back with a two in the eighth end for a 6-3 lead which always looked difficult to pull back.

So it proved, Muirhead running out 6-4 winners for a third consecutive Scottish title (seventh in all) and passage to Worlds in Beijing (March 18-26).

Afterwards, Eve Muirhead said: “I think patience was a key factor out there. Right from the off Hannah and the girls played really well, and so did we.

“We knew we had a game on our hands, we expected that, and as a team we never get ahead of ourselves or get complacent, so we stayed patient and then got that little break in the fifth end, scored the three and that gave us a little jump ahead.

Adams added: “This is what we train for, we do a lot behind the scenes, not just on the ice, and we take each game as one game, we don’t get too ahead of ourselves.

“We individualise the games, break them down into stones, single ends, making it much easier to focus on that rather than the bigger picture.”

While Muirhead won her seventh title, and Sloan and Adams their sixth, it was a first success for lead Gray, who capped it with two perfect tick shots in the final end.

She said: “I’m so delighted to have won my first Scottish Championship; it was an absolute joy to be playing with the girls today.

“I’ve been working hard on the tick shots, as this is my first season as a lead, so I was really pleased to make them both in the 10th end.”

 

Muirhead also praised coach Glenn Howard, adding: “As soon as we brought him on board we knew he’d help us in a lot of different ways, especially on the tactical side, and that’s just what he’s done.

“I think he was more nervous than us today! But he’s been fantastic, and absolutely delighted to get his first Scottish title I guess – but now he has the Canadian Championship coming up next week, and we’re all behind him for that.”

Now the focus turns to the World Championships in China, on which Sloan said: “It’s a quick turnaround, so we’ll get back to training pretty quickly.

“We’re really looking forward to getting out there, the field will be tough this year as always, but we’re in a good place and we just need to build on our performances this week – I think we’ve been pretty consistent.

“We’re excited and looking forward to the challenge.”

***

The men’s final was a meeting of the two form teams, with Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Gregor Cannon, Derrick Sloan, Alasdair Schreiber (alternate), Alan Hannah (coach)) and Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow, Ian Tetley (coach)) both on six-game winning streaks.

Team Murdoch had a slow start, but picked up the pace to finish on a W7 L2 record and top the standings – review of the men’s round robin here.

That put them into the 1v2 page playoff against Kyle Smith’s rink, and after a tight match Murdoch emerged victorious 4-3, stealing one in end six and taking their one down the last to make the final.

Team Mouat had to get there the hard way after a terrible Tuesday – losing heavily to Teams Murdoch and Whyte – and three wins on the trot forced a tiebreaker against Team Hardie, which they edged 5-4.

They faced defending champions Team Brewster in the 3v4 playoff, and steals in ends five and six, then a two in the ninth, gave them a 6-4 victory.

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SECOND SPOT: Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Gregor Cannon, Derrick Sloan, Alasdair Schreiber and Alan Hannah. Pic: RCCC/Brian Battensby 2017

Their semi-final with Team Smith was dramatic in the extreme, Mouat dominating the opening five ends and leading 4-2.

Two in end seven and successive steals looked to have swung it for Smith, but a disastrous final end saw them give up three, Mouat winning 7-6 to set up a Murdoch showdown.

It was a showdown which saw Murdoch clinically exploit little mistakes from Mouat, who was playing an aggressive game but seemed to run out of gas after their Universiade exploits and long week in Perth.

Draws came up short or were a touch wide, and after the teams traded twos in the first couple of ends, Murdoch exploded into a 9-3 lead after five ends, courtesy of four in end three and three in the fifth.

There were to be no miracles for Mouat to allow a comeback as Murdoch completed a professional job well done, handshakes offered in the eighth end with the score 10-4.

An elated David Murdoch reflected on a ruthless performance afterwards: “That’s how we wanted to be. We didn’t win our last two finals, and we wanted to make sure that as we were the more experienced team we came across with that authority, played our A game and put a lot of pressure on the guys.

“For a first final it’s quite daunting out there and we wanted to make sure we put them under as much pressure as we could.”

On his team, he said: “I’m super proud of them. We’ve had this as our goal for a long, long time and put in a ton of work.

“It’s not easy to win this championship; we’ve had a super week, and we look to keep that going and get a good result in the World Championships.

“It’s something the general public probably don’t see, the early starts, in the gym and on the ice; you need to have that amount of work put in to achieve that type of goal.

“We covered every aspect of this week, we wanted to make sure we left no stone unturned, and we certainly did that.”

Murdoch is under no illusions that competition at Worlds will be fierce, adding: “The World Championship a year before the Olympics is probably the toughest year; every team is coming up to their best at the end of the quadrennial.

“It’s in the lion’s den, in Edmonton, and we know how exciting that is – we’ve been there and done it plenty of times, and that excites us too.

“We need to be at our best as it’s going to be a tough fight. [But] I like our chances.

“I’ve said for a long time, although results might not have been going well this season at times, I always like the way we’re throwing it, and we just needed the extra challenge of the Scottish Championship, some good ice conditions, and we brought our best.”

#scc2017 men’s round robin review

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CRUNCH TIME: Tom Brewster is in the Scottish Championships playoff mix again. Pic: Brian Battensby (brianbatphotography.co.uk)

The round robin stage of the Scottish Curling Championships is complete, and the men’s section saw less playoff pandemonium than the year before, where five teams finished on W6 L3 records. 

This year it only required one tiebreaker between Teams Hardie and Mouat to give us a final four of Teams Brewster, Mouat, Murdoch and Smith.

The 10 teams involved in the championship all played their part, with Team Telfer – who lost all nine of their games – coming within a couple of shots of beating Team Smith, edged out 7-6.

Kyle Smith and his rink were also glad to escape unscathed from a tough encounter with Team Whyte, who outplayed their opponents for much of the match but lost 7-3.

It was one of a number of impressive performances from the young team, who shrugged off the loss of regular skip Ross Whyte (he’s at the World Junior Championships as Cameron Bryce’s fifth man) to claim five wins.

Their six-man rotation, skipped by Callum Kinnear when he wasn’t working, upset Teams Murdoch (7-5) and Mouat (8-1), took Team Brewster to an extra end (losing 8-7), and were left to rue a few bad shots in defeat to Team Smith.

Kyle Smith said: “They [Whyte] seemed to have a really good week.

“They’re good curlers, and upset a few folk, so we were quite relieved to get over the finish line against them.”

The Smith rink posted seven victories to two defeats, putting them joint top of the round robin standings and into the 1v2 page playoff against David Murdoch’s Olympians.

“That’s 100 per cent where we wanted to be at the start of the week,” said Smith. “So we’re very pleased.

“We’ve been pretty good, we’ve had some tough games and had to dig deep to steal sometimes or create our twos, but we’re all working together so we need to keep that going.

“Hopefully we’re due a win over him [Murdoch], so we’ll see how we get on.”

Team Murdoch lost two of their first four games – to Hardie and Whyte – but since then they’ve won five in a row, meaning they carry the best form into the playoffs.

Skip Murdoch said: “Our number one priority is to get into the playoffs, and it’s a great bonus that we’re in the 1v2 – that’s where we’ve been aiming the whole week.

“We did have a slow start, but we’ve played some great curling this week and bossed some teams around, and beat a lot of teams that have been playing well.”

In fact they have defeated three of the top five in the section, beating Teams Smith (7-5), Mouat (9-2) and Brewster (8-6).

Murdoch added: “We’re in a good place. It’s going to be a tough weekend – everyone’s in it to win it, and so are we, so we hope to bring our best game to the weekend.

“We’ve been on a bit of a win streak, so you feel good and have your chest puffed out from that.

“When you have a good feeling you’re relaxed, and you just need to bring the intensity.”

Rivalling Murdoch for form are Team Mouat who, after their chastening defeats to Murdoch and Whyte on Tuesday, have won four in a row, including the tiebreaker with Team Hardie.

Grant Hardie’s rink enjoyed another good week, starting with four straight wins, but ultimately it ended in frustration as defeats to Smith, Mouat and Brewster pushed them into a decider with Mouat, the latter scoring two in end eight in winning 5-4.

Skip Bruce Mouat paid tribute to his opponents, saying: “They’re [Hardie] really strong, we’ve played them quite a few times this season and it’s probably been 50-50 games-wise, so it was good to win tonight.”

They won gold at the Winter University Games earlier this month, bringing confidence but also, undoubtedly, some fatigue.

Mouat added: “It’s always going to be quite tiring after a week’s rest and then playing another long week, but I think we’ve really managed to rest well over the week – and that’s what we go to the gym for!”

But it’s target achieved for them in Perth, and they’re a dangerous side in the last four.

“Initially [making playoffs] is what we set out to do, and then obviously we want to win it now, so it’s three must-wins,” said Mouat.

“A winning run is always important. We had a rough Tuesday, losing two on the trot, and bad losses, but now it’s four on the trot that we’ve won.

“Going into the games with a bit of momentum is always a good thing, so if we show up and play well we’ll definitely cause some problems for the other teams.”

But standing in their way are reigning champions Team Brewster, who finished alongside Teams Murdoch and Smith on W7 L2, but having lost to both they missed out on playing in the 1v2 game.

Not that skip Tom Brewster has any complaints about his rink’s round robin performance.

“I think we’re playing just as well as we were last year; I don’t see much difference.

“Even the game we lost yesterday to Dave [Murdoch], we probably outplayed them apart from one bad end which cost us the game.”

The concession of fours in end six against Smith and end two versus Murdoch were decisive, fighting back from 5-1 down to 6-6 in the latter match, before being beaten 8-6.

“We’ve lost two games this week where, truthfully, one bad end has cost us the game, so we just need to cut out a couple of those simple mistakes in the ends we’ve given up,” Brewster added.

“We’ve not played badly in either lost game, just our opponents have been exceptional. So if we cut that out we’ll be in a good place.”

As for the 3v4 match-up, it pits them against a team they’ve already beaten in Team Mouat, albeit after an extra end.

Brewster said: “It’s one extra game, that’s it; you’ve just got to be here at the end of the week.

“I’m confident, we’ve had a good end to the week and we’re improving as the week’s gone on, so that’s what matters.”

Team Mouat win World University Games gold for Great Britain

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Team Mouat: Cate Brewster (coach), Alasdair Schreiber, Derrick Sloan, Gregor Cannon, Bobby Lammie, Bruce Mouat. Pic: twitter.com/BUCSsport

Team Mouat triumphed at the 2017 World University Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan, by winning men’s curling gold after winning 11 straight games.

Team Aitken represented Team GBR in the women’s competition, but fell short of the playoffs after a tiebreaker defeat to Switzerland.

Elsewhere this week, Team Hutcheon took victory at the Aberdeen City Open, while Team Muirhead took part in the Pinty’s All-Star Skins in Banff, Alberta.

***

The World University Games attracted strong curling representation, with Gustav Eskilsson, Victoria Moiseeva, Kelsey Rocque, Steffen Walstad and Isabella Wrana among the skips involved.

Team GBR was made up of Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Derrick Sloan, Gregor Cannon, Alasdair Schreiber) on the men’s side and Team Aitken (Gina Aitken, Rowena Kerr, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen, Angharad Ward) on the women’s.

The round robin stage proved straightforward for Mouat – as they won all nine of their games!

They saw off Russia 9-5, Canada 9-4, Norway 7-4, Sweden 8-3, hosts Kazakhstan 10-1, the Czech Republic 5-4, Japan 10-4, the USA 9-7 and Korea 5-3.

It was much less clear-cut for Aitken, although having lost 7-3 to Russia in their opener, they reeled off wins against Kazakhstan (10-4), Germany (8-7), Switzerland (6-5), Canada (9-5), Norway (7-6) and Korea (9-6).

But they were then beaten 8-7 by Sweden and 8-4 by China, which tipped them into a tiebreaker against Switzerland.

And it was the Swiss rink of Briar Huerlimann who came through, scoring twos in ends four and nine, plus stealing one in end six, for a 6-4 win.

Mouat had of course safely made the playoffs, but they were made to sweat by Norway – Team Walstad being reigning Universiade champions, and recent German Masters winners – in their semi-final, with the Norwegians 5-3 up after five ends.

Mouat scored three in end seven to tie it up at 6-6, then stole one in the eighth, but Walstad grabbed two in end nine to regain the lead – only for Mouat to score two in the final end for a thrilling 9-8 victory.

GBR faced Sweden for men’s gold (the same countries as in the 2013 World University Games final, only with Mouat v Eskilsson instead of Smith v Eriksson) and Mouat got off to the ideal start – scoring two in end one and stealing another two in the second end.

The Swedes were 5-2 down at halfway, but hit back with twos in ends seven and eight, which gave them the lead at 6-5.

But rather than crumbling, Mouat responded superbly – making a takeout for two in end nine to inch back ahead 7-6, before stealing one in the 10th to win out 8-6 and claim the gold!

Norway won men’s bronze, while on the women’s side the medallists were Canada (gold), Russia (silver) and Sweden (bronze).

Bruce Mouat said: “It feels great that the men have finally won the gold.

“It was a really good final – we started really well and finished really well.

“To finally get the gold around our neck and to do it in such fashion is just absolute class.”

***

Thoughts are turning to the Scottish Curling Championships later this month, and several of the rinks competing in that event were present at the Aberdeen City Open this weekend.

The 18 competing teams were divided into two sections – and the Red Section was topped by the rinks skipped by Andrew Hutcheon, Tom Brewster and Greg Dunn (all on W3 L1 records), with Curl Aberdeen 1 (a changing line-up of local players) joining them in the playoffs.

David Edwards and Stuart Taylor’s rinks topped the Blue Section, joined in the playoffs by those of James Pougher and Susan Kesley – the best two of six teams to finish on W2 L2 records.

The quarter-finals saw Team Edwards ease past Curl Aberdeen 1 by a 12-2 scoreline, while Team Hutcheon defeated Team Kesley 7-2 and Team Dunn saw off Team Taylor 5-3.

And in the other last-eight tie Pougher’s Welshmen knocked out Scottish champion Brewster, scoring three in end seven and stealing one in the eighth to win it 7-5.

Team Pougher then edged out Edwards to make the final, winning their semi 8-7 after an extra end, while Hutcheon defeated Dunn 5-4.

The final began with the teams trading twos, but Hutcheon then took control – scoring twos in ends four and five, then three in the seventh – to take the victory 9-3 and claim the Scottish Curling Tour event title.

So the local team took the plaudits – congratulations Andrew Hutcheon, Murray McGregor, Andrew Dolman, Angus Roberston (pictured below)!

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More photos and reports from the event are available here.

***

Also in Scotland this weekend, Team Kinnear maintained their dominance of the Asham Under-17 Slam events by winning in Perth.

After six sections which were topped by Teams Morton, Gallacher, Kennedy, Farmer, Craik and Kinnear, the quarter-finals saw Morton beat Farmer 4-3 and Gallacher see off Kennedy 5-3.

In the semi-finals, Craik eased to a 7-1 win over Gallacher, while Kinnear defeated Morton 4-1.

The final brought a ruthless performance from Kinnear, as they scored twos in ends three, four, six and seven en route to a 9-3 victory.

The low road final was won by Team Haswell, 11-3 conquerors of Team Gow.

Kinnear (Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean, Matthew McKenzie) were named as Scottish Under 17 Asham Slam winners for the season, with Farmer (Beth Farmer, Kirstin Bousie, Katie McMillan, Alexandra Mackintosh) crowned the top female U17 team for 2016/17.

***

Finally, Team Muirhead took part in the Pinty’s All-Star Skins alongside Teams Carey, Jones and Sweeting – plus Teams Edin, Jacobs, Koe and McEwen on the men’s side.

Unfortunately for Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) their introduction to the competition – where the teams compete for the monetary value of each end, or ‘skin’ – was a rude one.

Pitted against Sweeting, they were well beaten, the Canadians collecting $19,500 in prize money to Muirhead’s $1,500 – you can watch brief highlights of the match here.

Sweeting were beaten to the women’s title by Jones, while Koe defeated Jacobs in the men’s final.

 

Teams Fleming and Murdoch secure second spots

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

Team Hardie retain Braehead Open title

hardie-braehead
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.