Bryce and Muirhead continue consistent form with semi-final finishes

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SEMI-FINALISTS: Team Muirhead. Photo: British Curling/Graeme Hart (Perthshire Picture Agency)

It was a case of ‘close but no cigar’ for both of Teams Bryce and Muirhead at the weekend.

Bryce made the semi-finals at the Latvia International Challenger, only to lose out to Team Stjerne, while Muirhead also got to the last four at the GSOC Masters, where they were beaten by Team Einarson.

***

There were two Scottish teams at the second Grand Slam of the season, the Masters, with Team GB’s Olympic representatives taking on the world’s best in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.

Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) were in Pool B of the men’s event alongside Teams Gushue, McEwen, Shuster and Ulsrud.

Opening defeats to Gushue (7-6) and Ulsrud (7-6) put them on the back foot right away, and although they managed to beat US rink Shuster (6-2), defeat to McEwen (6-3) ended their playoff hopes.

The title was won by reigning world champions Gushue, who beat Team Edin of Sweden 8-4 in the final.

In the women’s field, Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) faced Teams Flaxey, Hasselborg, Sidorova and Sinclair in Pool A.

Wins against Sidorova (6-5) and Flaxey (7-6) got them off to an ideal start, and after a 6-4 loss to Sinclair, a 10-7 victory over Hasselborg secured their place in the knockout stages.

The quarter-finals pitted them against Team Pätz of Switzerland, with the Scots winning 5-4, thanks to two in end seven and a steal of one in the eighth.

But the last four proved their limit, as Canadians Einarson beat them 6-3 (with twos in ends three and six) – Muirhead’s conquerors finishing as runners-up to Jennifer Jones’ rink in the final (6-5).

Skip Eve Muirhead said: “Crowds have been great and to have such an atmosphere when playing is really something special; Canada really do know how to put on curling events!

“”Overall our two weeks have been a great success, beating three of the teams we are going to be coming up against in the Europeans and Korea, so this is all stepping stones towards these major events.”

***

The Latvia International Challenger involved Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle) on the men’s side, and Team Wilson (Maggie Wilson, Jennifer Marshall, Laura Barr, Eilidh Yeats) – plus English rink Team Farnell – on the women’s.

Both British women’s teams had their challenges ended early, with Farnell going W0 L4 and Wilson W1 L3 – their win coming against Team Rudzite of the home nation, 7-6 after an extra end.

Bryce did much better though, continuing their rich vein of form at the start of this season, as they made the playoffs with wins over Teams Bremanis (7-2), Lill (10-4), Truksans (7-1) and a loss to Hess (7-6).

Following their 7-4 victory over Team Gulbis in the last eight (stealing three in the second end), Bryce’s challenge was ended by experienced Danes Team Stjerne, who won 7-2 and went on to claim the title, while Bryce ended with a 7-3 defeat against Team Wunderer in the third place match.

***

Also this weekend, the Lanarkshire leg of the Asham Under-21 Slam took place.

After 24 teams faced off across six groups, the high road final was contested by Teams Craik and McCormack, with the former (James Craik, Angus Bryce, Matthew McKenzie, Niall Ryder) scoring four in the third end on their way to a 6-2 triumph.

After a very busy day of curling we are pleased to say we have won the second leg of the Scottish U17s at Hamilton. A really tight performance throughout the day ment we won our Quarter Final Against Team Gallacher 5-1 and then followed it up in the semi with a win over Wilkie-Milne and then finally a win over Team McCormack 6-2 ment the slam was ours👍🏼 A massive thanks to our sponsors for all the support as it really makes competing in these slams so much easier for us. Up next we are back to U21s next weekend with the European Junior Curling Tour Event held in Braehead. Looking forward to pitching ourselves against several foreign teams and hoping to put in a strong performance. @fitbituk_ireland @foxglide @forfarindoorsports @ziyeninc

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Drummond make Champery Masters final

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Team Drummond. Photo: British Curling/Perthshire Picture Agency (Graeme Hart)

Team Drummond were the star performers from a Scottish point of view this week, making the final of the Champery Masters, where they lost out to Team Edin.

Teams Brewster and Mouat also did well in Switzerland, while Team Kinnear won the EJCT Oslo junior men’s title.

Over in Canada, Teams Muirhead and Smith warmed up for the next Grand Slam tournament of the season – the National – by competing in a couple of World Curling Tour events.

***

There were three Scottish rinks at the Champery Masters in Switzerland, and all three made the playoffs.

Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Duncan Menzies, Scott Andrews, Alasdair Schreiber) cruised through the round robin stage with a W5 L0 record – beating Teams Edin, Hess, Mancini, Retornaz and Schwaller.

Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie, Hammy McMillan) also topped their pool, thanks to wins over Teams Kauste, Snitil, Stjerne and Van Dorp, plus a loss to Smilga of Latvia.

And Team Drummond (Greg Drummond, Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon, Michael Goodfellow) topped Pool D, also with a W4 L1 record – overcoming Teams Baumann, Lottenbach, Pfister and Sik, and losing to Team Attinger.

Three became one following the quarter-finals, however, as Drummond beat Mouat 4-3, while Brewster exited at the hands of Van Dorp.

Drummond saw off the Dutch rink in the last four though, scoring four in end six in a 6-5 triumph.

That put them into a final against former world champions Edin, and it was the Swedes who moved ahead early on, scoring two in the second end and stealing one in the third.

Another two in end five gave the Scots too much to do, Edin winning 6-3 to claim the title.

This is, nonetheless, the most impressive performance so far this season from Drummond, after a slow start to the season, and one they’ll be looking to push on from.

Skip Drummond said: “The event was a great learning curve for our team.

“We were able to utilise Misha Botting’s sports psychology services over the course of the event and his input has provided a good base for us going forward.

“Playing Niklas Edin in the final was always going to be tough but it was a good test for our team at this stage in the season.

“We were just disappointed that we weren’t able to execute our game plan.”

***

Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith), meanwhile, were in Quebec for the ARENA Challenge de Curling de Gatineau.

As a warm-up for the GSOC Masters (October 24-29 in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, with Smith facing Gushue, Ulsrud, Shuster and McEwen), it was a short-lived one – only lasting four games.

Defeats to Chandler and Allen tipped Smith onto the C-Road, where they beat Homan but then lost to Murphy to depart the competition – which saw the title go to Rui Liu of China, thanks to an 8-2 victory over Team De Cruz in the final.

One to forget about from a Smith perspective.

***

Also in Canada, Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) were in action in the Canad Inns Women’s Classic in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Wins over Holland and McCarville put them within touching distance of the playoffs, only for Englot to beat them in the A-Road final.

Defeat to Carey put them on the C-Road, where the Scots got back to winning ways against Meilleur and Tirinzoni, but Einarson proved too strong in the C-Road final, winning 9-6 (despite threes from Muirhead in ends four and seven).

The competition was won by Team Roth of the USA, who beat Team Hasselborg 5-4 after an extra end in the final.

Muirhead, like Smith, are taking part in the Grand Slam in Lloydminster – they take on Sidorova, Flaxey, Sinclair and Hasselborg.

***

Back in Europe, there were three Scottish rinks at the EJCT Oslo event in Norway – with quite a contrast between the men’s and women’s outcomes.

Neither Team Bryce (Amy Bryce, Molly Keen, Layla Al-Saffar, Jane Barr) nor Team Morrison (Rebecca Morrison, Amy MacDonald, Hailey Duff, Leeanne McKenzie) were able to make it out of the group stage.

Bryce finished with a W1 L4 record, having beaten Moberg but lost to Dami (11-10, Bryce scoring six in the fourth end!), Tanner, Ramsfjell and Hoehne, while Morrison won two – against Mesloe and Norrlander – but lost three – to Halse, Loertscher and Keiser (the eventual winner of the event).

On the men’s side, however, Team Kinnear (Callum Kinnear, Duncan McFadzean, Ryan McCormack, Matthew McKenzie) got out of their section on W4 L1 – as they lost their opening game to Heinimann but then claimed victories over Nygren, Bjoernstad, Hermansson and Kringlebotn to make the playoffs.

There the wins just kept on coming, with Lochmann seen off 5-1 in the quarter-finals, and Ramsfjell 5-2 in the semis.

That means a rematch with Heinimann in the final, but there were no problems for Kinnear this time, as steals in ends three and five, then three in end seven, won them the match 6-1 and thereby the title.

The Kinnear rink were unfortunate not to make the playoffs at last season’s Scottish Championships, and here is more evidence of their exciting potential.

***

Finally, the Stirling Wheelchair International Invitational, at The Peak, saw eight of the world’s best wheelchair curling teams gather to compete.

Russia defeated Scotland 5-4 in the final, with Switzerland in third place.

Team Muirhead triumph as Scots shine in Canada

Muirhead HDF Shootout
HDF Insurance Shoot-out winners, Team Muirhead (pic: twitter.com/Team_Muirhead)

Team Muirhead continued their strong start to the season by picking up the HDF Insurance Shoot-out title in Edmonton, while three more Scottish rinks made the playoffs at the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic in Cornwall, Ontario.

Teams Drummond, Fleming and Smith performed well against a class field, only to fall short in the knockout stages.

All in all, coupled with Team Mouat’s double success in Oakville, it’s been a very promising start to the season for the Scots.

***

The semi-finals had been the limit for Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray, Kelly Schafer) in their first event of the season, the GSOC Tour Challenge, and they continued that fine form into the HDF Insurance Shoot-out.

Wins against Teams Scott, Robertson, Kleibrink and Ramsay, before a loss to Team Wang of China, sent them safely into the quarter-finals, where they defeated Team Rocque 8-4.

The semi-finals brought a 5-3 victory over Robertson, which set up a final against Team Hasselborg of Sweden – the rink which had knocked them out at the Tour Challenge.

After the teams traded twos, Hasselborg moved 5-2 ahead after seven ends, only for Muirhead to score three in the eighth and then steal two in the extra end to win 7-5 and claim the title.

It’s been an excellent start from the Muirhead rink – can they keep it up in their big Olympic year?

***

At the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic, meanwhile, Teams Drummond and Smith took part in the men’s event, with Team Fleming on the women’s side.

Drummond (Greg Drummond, Ross Paterson, Glen Muirhead, Michael Goodfellow) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) were drawn in the same pool, and Smith won their head-to-head 5-3.

Both sat on W2 L2 records going into the final pool matches, where Smith beat Howard 6-5, and Drummond overcame world champions Gushue 4-3 after an extra end – Smith having also beaten Gushue to help them progress to the playoffs.

The quarter-finals saw Smith bow out, beaten 6-5 by Walstad of Norway, but Drummond made the last four by defeating Robillard 8-6.

They could not get past Olympic champions Jacobs in their semi-final however, losing 6-3, with Jacobs going on to beat McEwen 3-1 in the final.

Still, with two wins over Gushue and runs to the playoffs, it had been a very positive event for the Scots.

The same goes for Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright), who qualified for the women’s playoffs thanks to wins over Tirinzoni, Arsenault and Belisle.

They lost 8-6 to Duncan in the quarter-finals, giving up a steal of two in the eighth, as Team Sinclair of the USA ultimately took the title, but for Fleming to make the playoffs when the likes of Flaxey and Tirinzoni did not is also encouraging.

***

Finally, the first Asham Under-21 Slam of the season took place this weekend – the Greenacres Junior Masters.

Teams Baird, Carson, Craik and Whyte qualified for the semi-finals on the men’s side, with Teams Bryce, Davie, Farmer and Morrison coming through on the women’s.

The last four saw Baird beat Carson and Whyte beat Craik, while Davie beat Morrison and Farmer defeated Bryce.

The men’s final brought victory for Whyte (Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Fraser Kingan, Euan Kyle), who stole one in the extra end to win 7-6.

And the women’s final was won by Davie (Lisa Davie, Kirsty Barr, Anna Skuse, Emma Barr), 7-5 over Farmer.

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!

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?

2017-18 curling season preview

Olympic Curling Teams - Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme HartTHE CHOSEN ONES: Great Britain’s men’s and women’s curlers for Pyeongchang 2018 (Team Muirhead and Team Smith). Pic: British Curling/Graeme Hart

Who said anything about a quiet summer break?

There have been some huge changes in the landscape of Scottish curling over the last few months.

There’s the personnel changes, of course.

David Murdoch’s playing days are over, with one of the stalwarts of the Scottish game retiring from competitive curling and switching to coaching.

The subsequent reshuffles have thrown up some intriguing team combinations for the new season.

Murdoch’s third Greg Drummond has moved up to skip, piloting a rink which also consists of Ross Paterson, Gregor Cannon and Michael Goodfellow.

Heading in the opposite direction to Paterson is Scott Andrews, who joins an all-new Team Brewster, with Tom Brewster also welcoming Duncan Menzies and Alasdair Schreiber to his quartet.

Team Bryce have added Ross Whyte to their roster, while Bruce Mouat’s new rink has a bit of a rockstar look to it.

Grant Hardie, Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan are all on board – it’s a team packed with talent, so I’m excited to see what they can do in Scotland and on tour this year.

There are changes on the women’s side too, notably Sochi 2014 medallist Claire Hamilton coming into skip Gina Aitken’s team – Aitken moving to third in place of Rowena Kerr.

Some teams have stuck with the same formula of course, including the rinks selected to represent Great Britain at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (oh yes, it’s an Olympic year!) – Team Muirhead and Team Smith.

There have of course been changes outside of the teams themselves, including the opening of the National Curling Academy in Stirling, which will hopefully see Scotland/Britain keep up with the world’s top – and emerging – curling nations.

The Curling Champions Tour and World Curling Tour have merged, and – closer to home – it’s good news to see the Scottish Curling Tour expand and gain a swanky new website.

Scotland (Aberdeen to be exact) will host the 2018 World Junior Championships, which can hopefully build on the interest generated by the Olympics (the countdown to #lovecurling trending again is underway…) the month before.

The Olympics have pulling power that individual winter sports can only dream of, so it’s vital that curling (Scottish curling in particular) uses its events this year to draw more fans, and maybe the next generation of players, to the game.

***

Last week gave us a taste of what’s to come, with Teams Bryce and Jackson representing Scotland at the latest ‘Curling Night in America’ event in Omaha, while Judith and Lee McCleary flew the Saltire at the Audi quattro Winter Games in New Zealand (making the quarter-finals but losing to eventual champions Estonia).

This weekend sees things move up a gear. The first Grand Slam event of the season is on the horizon – the Tour Challenge (Tiers 1 and 2), on September 5-10 – and so there are four Scottish rinks over in Canada.

Teams Brewster, Drummond, Mouat and Smith will all fight it out for the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard, with eyes on Smith in particular.

Victory in Oakville (in the Oakville OCT Fall Classic) was one of the highlights in an impressively consistent (also consistently impressive) season which saw them get the nod for the Olympics.

How will they handle that extra pressure as Pyeonchang approaches? They’re still a young team, but they’ve been together for a long time and they know how to beat the world’s best.

Eve Muirhead has described an Olympic appearance (and medal) as putting a target on your back, and we’ll get our first chance to see the Team GB women at the Tour Challenge in Regina, where Team Fleming will also compete.

Excited yet? You should be. The changes over the summer simply add another dynamic to what promises to be a thrilling Olympic season.

End of season round-up

sco seniors bronze
PODIUM: Scotland women won bronze at the World Senior Curling Championships. Pic: twitter.com/jlockhart65

It’s been a packed end to the season, with the good (Team Smith’s European Masters win, bronze for Scotland women at World Seniors) mixed with the bad (Scotland/GB missing out on Olympic Mixed Doubles).

Here’s a quick round-up of how the 2016-17 season has come to its conclusion.

***

Firstly to St Gallen, where the European Masters involved three Scottish men’s teams – Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan), Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) and Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith).

Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Vicky Wright, Alice Spence) were the sole Scots on the women’s side, but after two wins in the opening two matches versus Teams Schöpp (6-4) and Thompson (6-5) they lost their three remaining group matches to miss out on the final.

In the men’s event, it wasn’t a great tournament for Murdoch, as they only picked up one win from seven round robin games – 7-4 against Team Walstad.

Team Brewster did rather better, with wins against Murdoch (8-2), Pfister (5-3), Walstad (10-1) and McCormick (4-2) qualifying them for the 3v4 game versus McCormick, which the Scots won 4-2.

The best performance, though, came from Team Smith, who won four of their round robin matches – against Pfister (5-4), Murdoch (7-5), Brewster (7-3) and McCormick (8-5) – to edge by Brewster to make the final.

There they faced the ever-menacing Team Edin, and Smith finally got one over on the serial Slam-winning Swedes, as two in end four and one in end eight saw them pinch it 5-4.

***

The Champions Cup – for teams who have won major competitions during the season – took place in Calgary, Alberta, and involved three Scottish rinks – Teams Brewster and Hardie (Grant Hardie, Blair Fraser, David Reid, Duncan Menzies) on the men’s side, and Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) on the women’s.

Neither men’s team could progress from the round robin, with Brewster taking a win against Team Morozumi (9-3) but being beaten by Teams Laycock (5-4), McEwen (9-1) and Gushue (6-3).

Hardie, meanwhile, lost all four games – against Teams De Cruz (8-1), Carruthers (6-3), Jacobs (8-6) and Morris (6-3) – but this was undoubtedly a helpful experience for the team in a Slam environment.

The men’s title went the way of Team Jacobs, who overcame Team Koe 6-2 in the final.

Muirhead also missed out on the women’s playoffs – beating Flaxey (9-4) but losing to Pätz (7-2), Jones (7-6) and Wrana (6-2).

The women’s final was contested by Teams Homan and Hasselborg, with Homan scoring two in end eight to pinch it 5-4.

***

The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Lethbridge, Canada, saw Scotland represented by Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat.

They swept the round robin, with victories over Norway (6-3), Bulgaria (10-3), Ireland (8-5), Wales (11-2), Serbia (11-0), Denmark (8-2) and Italy (8-4).

Also in Scotland’s group, Ireland (Alison Fyfe and Neil Fyfe) won four and lost three (beating Serbia 10-2, Denmark 7-3, Bulgaria 11-4 and Wales 11-2, but losing to Italy 5-4, Scotland and Norway 10-4), with Wales (Dawn Watson and Adrian Meikle) coming in on W2 L5 (winning against Serbia 11-3 and Denmark 9-7, but defeated by Norway 6-2, Scotland, Italy 9-8, Ireland and Bulgaria).

England (Anna Fowler and Ben Fowler) just missed out on qualifying from the round robin, finishing on a W4 L3 record (beating France 8-5, Kazakhstan 17-2, Turkey 10-5 and Germany 9-6, but losing to the USA 7-2, the Czech Republic 6-4 and Canada 7-6).

The quarter-finals saw Ireland face Korea, losing 6-3, while Scotland – despite winning their group – faced Canadians Joanne Courtney and Reid Carruthers, and they were beaten 8-3 after giving up four in end seven.

Now scrambling to qualify for the Olympics, Aitken and Mouat faced Sweden – and scored four in end four as they beat them 9-2 – while the Irish pair lost to Russia 7-5.

It was the Russians Anastasia Bryzgalova and Aleksandr Krushelnitckii up next for Scotland, and again Aitken/Mouat lost to a very strong opponent, 6-5, as Russia scored singles in ends one, three, four, six, seven and the extra to edge a tight match.

Scotland had to beat Italy next and hope. They did that, 7-5, but Norway’s win over Finland denied them a spot at Pyeongchang 2018, with just two points in it on the ranking system.

Sport is seldom ‘fair’, and Scotland had the misfortune to face Canada and Russia after a flawless round robin.

What would seem flawed is a qualification process that places so much emphasis on a couple of games at one event, over the hard work and consistent tournament success of a Scottish duo who have spent the last four years working towards an Olympic spot, and were clearly heartbroken to fall short.

Switzerland, who went unbeaten through the championship, beat Canada 6-5 in the final to win gold, with China taking silver.

***

Lethbridge also hosted the World Senior Curling Championships, with Scotland represented by Ian Drysdale, David McQueen, Ronald Wilson, Graham Lindsay and Andrew Hemming (alternate) in the men’s event.

They finished the round robin with a W3 L3 record, as they saw off Finland 6-3, England 4-2 and Russia 12-2, but were beaten by Canada (7-2), Wales (6-4) and New Zealand (5-2)).

That meant a tiebreaker against Wales (Adrian Meikle, Richard Pougher, Chris Wells, Gary Waddell, Alistair Reid (alternate)), who had also won three and lost three, and again the Welsh came out on top, 5-4 this time, to put the Scots out.

England men (Thomas Campbell, Philip Barton, Mike Spain, Alastair Fyfe) ended up on W1 L5, with Ireland men (Peter Wilson, Johnjo Kenny, Bill Gray, David Whyte, David Hume (alternate)) on W5 L2.

Wales beat Israel 8-6 to make the last eight, but there they succumbed 8-1 to Canada; Ireland, though, qualified for the quarter-finals with a 5-4 win over Denmark.

Canada proved too strong for the Irish in the semi-finals, winning 5-2, but the Irish did secure bronze with a 6-3 win over Germany in the 3v4 game, while Sweden pipped Canada to gold.

As for the women’s competition, Scotland (Jackie Lockhart, Christine Cannon, Isobel Hannen, Margaret Richardson, Janet Lindsay (alternate)) qualified from Group B with five wins (against the Czech Republic (9-2), Slovakia (15-1), Australia (9-1), Finland (7-6 after an extra end) and Switzerland (8-4)) and one loss (versus the USA (6-4)).

England women (Judith Dixon, Val Saville, Helen Forbes, Deborah Higgins) were W3 L4 for the event, with Ireland women (Carolyn Hibberd, Marie O’Kane, Louise Kerr, Clare McCormick) W1 L6.

Scotland, having finished second in their group to the USA, had to beat Russia to make the last four, which they did 10-0.

Their semi-final pitted them against Colleen Jones’ Canada, and it was the host country who emerged victorious with a two in end eight to win 5-3.

Canada took gold and Switzerland silver, and Scotland ensured they joined them on the podium by beating the USA 8-5 (scoring four in end five) in the bronze medal match.

Skip Lockhart said: “It feels really good to get a medal and to go back with something after not playing quite the ‘A’ game we wanted against Canada.

“We had to fight really hard for that. It’s been a tough week but every medal makes the season worthwhile and we’ve still got years to play in seniors, so…bring it on.”