Team Brewster began 2017 as they ended 2016 – with a title, this time at the Perth Masters.
Last year saw Tom Brewster’s quartet win the Scottish Championships, European Playdowns and Karuizawa International, and they got this year off to the ideal start.
Also this weekend, Team Smith were involved in another Grand Slam of Curling event, the Canadian Open, while Team Jackson have successfully qualified Scotland for the World Women’s Junior Championship.
Thirty-two teams from around the world arrived for the Perth Masters, which is becoming a major Curling Champions Tour event – with live online coverage to match.
Ten Scottish teams began the triple knockout competition, and three of those made the playoffs – Teams Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan), Hardie (Grant Hardie, Blair Fraser, Dave Reid, Duncan Menzies) and MacDonald (Ewan MacDonald, David Edwards, Duncan Fernie, Euan Byers).
Brewster began with wins over Foss (7-1), Snitil 6-2 and MacDonald (7-1), but lost their A Road final 5-3 against last year’s runners-up, Team Ulsrud of Norway.
It mattered little, though, as they then beat Pfister 4-1 and MacDonald (again, 5-1 this time) on the B Road to secure a playoff spot.
MacDonald, having beaten Kauste 10-4 and Pfister 6-4 but suffered their first defeat to Brewster, took victories over Ramsfjell (6-1) and Eskilsson (7-3).
There then followed their second loss to Brewster, but a 7-3 success against fellow Scots Bryce saw them into the knockout stages.
As for Hardie, they opened by overcoming Walstad 5-4, but then lost 5-3 to Eskilsson.
On the B Road they defeated compatriots Bryce 5-4 (stealing one in the extra end) but were then knocked down to the C Road, Pfister edging their match 3-2.
So Hardie needed three straight wins to make the playoffs… and that’s just what they got, against Schwaller (7-5), then two other Scottish rinks – Murdoch (5-4, again stealing one in the extra end) and Mouat (7-3).
Come the quarter-finals, Brewster stole singles in ends seven and eight to eke out a 6-4 victory against Liu Rui of China.
But the last eight proved to be the limit for Hardie – beaten 8-2 by Baumann of Germany after giving up four in end four – and MacDonald – losing out 4-2 to Ulsrud in a tight match.
Brewster had to board the steal train again in their semi-final with Baumann; having been 3-0 down, they scored twos in the seventh and eighth ends for another 6-4 win.
In the final they faced Walstad, who had shocked their fellow Norwegians Ulsrud in last four, and the match was tied 3-3 after five ends.
But three for Brewster in end six, followed up by a steal of two in the seventh, handed them victory by an 8-3 scoreline and meant they were Masters of Perth!
Tom Brewster – celebrating his record fourth Perth Masters title – told British Curling: “This is a fantastic event – it’s really well organised, the ice is always good.
“It’s always a strong field and to come out on top is a real honour.
“It goes down in the record books because people see this as one of the biggest events in Europe.”
Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) took part in the Grand Slam of Curling Canadian Open in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, but unfortunately they were not involved for long.
In a triple knockout competition, they lost 5-4 to Team Jacobs, 9-5 to Team Korte and 6-3 to Team Epping, which saw them eliminated.
The men’s final was contested by Teams Edin and Gushue, and it was the Canadians – with skip Brad Gushue clearly back in the swing of things after injury, as he threw 100 per cent in the final – who triumphed 8-3.
As for the women’s title, that went to Team Scheidegger – not one of the best known Canadian rinks, but one which has found fine form this season, including winning the HDF Insurance Shoot Out, where they defeated Team Muirhead in the final.
Here they faced Team Tirinzoni of Switzerland, and won it 5-4 thanks to a steal of one in the eighth end.
Team Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair, Laura Barr (alternate), coached by Cate Brewster) have qualified Scotland for the women’s section of the 2017 World Junior Championships.
Playing at the World Junior-B Championships in Östersund, Sweden, they won all six of their round robin matches – against Spain (11-4), Latvia (6-3), Estonia (5-3), Norway (5-2), Romania (13-2) and the Czech Republic (7-1).
We finished the round robin on a win against Czech Republic! We have secured a place in the quarters at 8pm on Monday (7pm Scotland). 😊 pic.twitter.com/HHaVGxuVxL
As 2017 looms large, it’s time for The Roaring Game Blog to look back on the first half of the curling season.
There was plenty going on – although thankfully #Broomgate controversy has vanished from the spotlight, following the World Curling Federation’s sweeping summit and new regulations.
That means the focus has been on the ice, with Scottish teams more than holding their own as non-Canadian teams draw closer to the likes of Gushue, Homan and Koe.
Here are some of the highlights…
BRAEHEAD: Curling came home, as Braehead hosted the 2016 European Championships… which ended up being pretty similar to the 2015 Championships.
Just as in Esbjerg 12 months previously, Sweden won men’s gold (more on Team Edin later), Russia won women’s gold, Scotland men fell short of the playoffs, and Scotland women medalled again.
Team Brewster defeated all of the eventual men’s medallists (Sweden, Norway and Switzerland) in the round robin but finished in sixth place – missing the playoffs but qualifying Scotland for the 2017 World Men’s Curling Championships.
Team Muirhead cruised through the round robin, winning nine from nine, but had one bad game – against eventual winners Team Moiseeva of Russia – and had to settle for bronze… skip Eve Muirhead’s seventh consecutive European medal, a remarkable run of consistency.
In the B-Division, England’s men and women, and Wales men, all won more than they lost – but none made the playoffs, the English women particularly unlucky, with three of their defeats coming after an extra end.
KINGS OF SWEDEN: Team Edin have been the outstanding team in the world this year, the Swedes winning their third consecutive European gold, as well as claiming victory at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard, Swiss Cup Basel, Champery Masters and the first two Grand Slam of Curling events of the season – the Masters and Tour Challenge.
No team has perfected the art of starting a tournament slowly and finishing it like a steam train quite like Niklas Edin’s rink, and they look more than capable of continuing their amazing title-winning form into 2017.
THE RIVALS PART I: Team Smith have enjoyed an outstanding first half of the season, despite being beaten to European qualification by Team Brewster, and it could have been even better had they not repeatedly run into the red-hot Team Edin.
Kyle Smith’s quartet won the Oakville OCT Fall Classic to kick-start their season, before making the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard semi-finals (beaten by Edin) and Swiss Cup Basel semis (beaten by Edin).
They then reached their first ever Grand Slam final, at the Tour Challenge in Cranbrook, where they finished as runners-up… to Edin.
So far, so Djokovic v Murray in tennis slam finals – but Smith’s form shows they’re a match for anyone in the world, which they continued to demonstrate by taking the Dumfries Challenger title just before Christmas to sit 13th in the World Curling Tour Order of Merit rankings.
FLEMING TAKE FLIGHT: Just like their 2013 World University Games comrades Team Smith, this half season has been a real breakthrough for Team Fleming.
Hannah Fleming’s rink, having added Jen Dodds and Vicky Wright to the line-up, have pulled off some remarkable victories over top teams and posted a series of runners-up finishes.
The Women’s Masters Basel saw them reach the semi-finals, and they upped that result by reaching finals at the Stockholm Ladies Cup, Red Deer Curling Classic and Qinghai China International, only to fall short of the top prize each time.
A first title of the season may still elude them, but there’s no doubt they’re on the up – to 27th in the women’s Order of Merit.
DIFFERENT NAMES, SAME RESULTS: Team Fleming are still chasing the top Scots though – Team Muirhead have added Lauren Gray at lead and Glenn Howard as coach, while fielding Kelly Schafer at third for the first few months of the season while Anna Sloan recovered from injury, but they have looked no less impressive.
They were the best women’s team in Braehead (and so were unlucky to ‘only’ win bronze), while also coming in as runners-up at the HDF Insurance Shoot-Out and Colonial Square Ladies Classic.
After those second-placed finishes, they finally got to the top spot of the podium by winning the Women’s Masters Basel – and ended 2016 by coming third at the Karuizawa International.
The 2018 Winter Olympics remain the ultimate goal for these ladies, and the indications are that they’re gelling with plenty of time to spare.
NICE TO SEE YOU, TO SEE YOU BRYCE: Team Murdoch were runners-up at the Swiss Cup Basel and Karuizawa International, Team Brewster won the latter, but the most successful Scottish men’s side aside from Team Smith have been Team Bryce.
With a rejigged line-up of their own, they’ve had a fantastic first half to the season – winning the EJCT Braehead Junior International, Greenacres Junior Masters (U21 Slam), Kinross Junior Classic (U21 Slam) and EJCT Livechannel Cup.
Add to that third place at the EJCT Thun event and second at the Dumfries Challenger (pushing Smith all the way in the final), and it’s no surprise to see them ranked as Europe’s second best junior team.
They’re also favourites to win next year’s Scottish Juniors to qualify for Worlds.
THE RIVALS PART II: Team Bryce’s superb form has irked one team more than most: Team Whyte, who just haven’t quite managed to get the best of them yet.
Bryce won their head-to-heads in the Braehead Junior International final, Greenacres Junior Masters final, Kinross Junior Classic final and EJCT Thun third-place playoff.
Ross Whyte’s boys have had a fine season themselves, mind you – runners-up at the Dumfries Open and winners of the Inverness Junior International and Lockerbie Junior International U21 Slams.
And 3/4 of their line-up, skipped by Callum Kinnear, have been tearing it up in the U17 Slams – victors at the Stevenson Trophy, Lanarkshire Slam and Baljaffray Trophy.
EUROPE’S BEST: Team Jackson are first in the EJCT women’s rankings after enjoying their own excellent half season.
It’s been a very busy one for Sophie Jackson and co, but their highlights include winning the women’s titles at the EJCT Braehead Junior International, Greenacres Junior Masters and EJCT Prague Junior Cup, as well as placing second in the Braehead Open and Dumfries Challenger events.
They also saw off Team Karina Aitken to qualify for next week’s World Junior-B Championships, where their aim is clear: get Scotland back up to the top table after relegation last year.
QUEENS OF SWEDEN: Outside of Scottish curling, it’s been an intriguing season so far, perhaps most marked by the emergence of Team Hasselborg of Sweden.
Shooting past Team Sigfridsson (so long Sweden’s dominant rink, who haven’t had a bad half season themselves to be fair), Hasselborg have won the Stockholm Ladies Cup, reached the semi-finals of two Grand Slams, and won silver at Europeans in Braehead.
We’ve also seen the impressive return of Bingyu Wang of China, the 2009 world champion, while Team Homan have struggled to find the consistency of their steamroller-style start to 2015-16 – Grand Slam titles instead going to Teams Einarson, Flaxey and Sweeting.
On the men’s side, Teams Carruthers and Jacobs have looked the most impressive aside from Team Edin, while Team Gushue have performed admirably during skip Brad’s recuperation – and ‘Team Pants’ (Thomas Ulsrud’s delightfully wacky Norwegian rink) have been far from pants in coming second at the Baden Masters and Europeans, before winning the Qinghai China International men’s title this month.
MIX IT UP: Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat continue to make waves in the mixed doubles discipline, winning their fourth Scottish Mixed Doubles title to qualify for Worlds, while excelling on the continent.
They claimed the CCT Bern Mixed Doubles title, as well as coming in as runners-up at the CCT Austrian Mixed Doubles Curling Cup.
Judith and Lee McCleary were second at the Scottish Championships, and also won the Consolation Cup at the Bern Mixed Doubles, so proved they’re very capable of keeping Aitken and Mouat on their toes as Pyeongchang 2018 draws closer.
At the 2016 World Mixed Curling Championship (four players per team as opposed to two), Cameron Bryce (skip), Katie Murray, Bobby Lammie and Sophie Jackson played brilliantly as they secured bronze medals for Scotland.
SUPER SILVER: Speaking of medals, the Scottish wheelchair curlers Aileen Neilson (skip), Gregor Ewan, Hugh Nibloe, Robert McPherson and Angie Malone (alternate) won silver at the World Wheelchair-B Curling Championship.
In doing so, they also qualified for the 2017 World Wheelchair Curling Championship – and the 2018 Winter Olympics as Great Britain.
Curling in 2017 kicks off with the World Junior-B Championships in Sweden (January 3-9) and the Mercure Perth Masters (Jan 5-8). Enjoy!
Teams Brewster and Smith finished the year as champions, winning titles at the Karuizawa International and Dumfries Challenger Series.
They weren’t the only ones to enjoy success, with Teams Fleming, Muirhead and Murdoch also enjoying success in China and Japan.
There was a strong showing from the Scottish rinks in Dumfries, too, while Team Whyte took the plaudits at the Lockerbie Junior International.
Teams Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan) and Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) ventured out to Japan to contest the Karuizawa International men’s title, which was won by Murdoch last season.
Brewster progressed straight to the semi-finals thanks to a W4 L0 round robin performance, having recorded victories against Teams Natsuizaka (5-3), Ogihara (6-4), SooHyuk Kim (8-5) and Takigahira (4-3 after an extra end).
Murdoch, though, had it a little tougher, as despite wins over Teams Komoda (10-2), Hirata (8-3) and Suzuki (6-2), a defeat to Team Morozumi (6-5 after extra end) placed them second in their pool and required them to play a quarter-final.
For that match they faced SooHyuk Kim, and threes in ends one and six propelled them to an 8-2 victory.
In the semi-finals, Brewster edged past Team Morris 7-6 (scoring two in ends one and four, and three in end six), while Murdoch won their rematch with Morozumi – three in end three and twos in ends five and six pointing the way to a 7-2 outcome.
The all-Scottish final was a tight affair, Brewster and Murdoch tied at 1-1 after four ends, before Brewster scored one in end five and Murdoch two in the sixth end.
Brewster blanked end seven, then made full use of hammer in the eighth by scoring two to win the match 4-3 and secure the title.
Skip Tom Brewster said: “We have had a great time here in Japan and the result just tops it off. The team has played great all week.
“Since the Europeans we have been working on a number of things and it’s great to see all that effort has paid off.”
In the women’s competition, Team Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) emulated Brewster by proceeding straight to the semi-finals – beating Teams Ji Suk Kim (7-6), Matsumura (5-4 after extra end), Sigfridsson (9-3) and Fujisawa (9-2).
The last four threw up a Muirhead-Sigfridsson repeat, this time with a different outcome, as the Swedes scored two in the extra end to win it 7-5.
Muirhead still had the chance to finish third, though, and took it by defeating Team Sidorova 5-3, with a two in end seven and steal of one in end eight.
Team Un-Chi Gim claimed the women’s title by overcoming Sigfridsson 7-4.
Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright), meanwhile, were in China for the inaugural Qinghai China International (‘Redmagic Cup’).
They got off to a losing start, beaten 6-5 by Team Kubeskova after an extra end, but recovered to defeat Team Kauste 10-6 and local favourites Team Wang (by a remarkable 11-10 scoreline).
But they were then beaten 10-7 by Team Brown of Canada, before a 7-5 victory over Team Witschonke had them on W3 L2.
That was improved with a 4-3 win versus Team Jentsch (stealing one in the extra end), but a 10-8 loss to Team Roth (after another extra end) pushed them into a tiebreaker for the playoffs.
There, two in end one, three in end six and a stolen two in end seven saw off Wang 8-2.
In the semi-finals they faced Roth of the USA, and frittered away a 4-3 lead after six ends to trail 6-4 after nine having given up consecutive steals – but a three in end 10 won it for the Scots 7-6, and booked a spot in the final.
Fleming had to settle for runners-up spot, though, as Brown grabbed four in end five and three in the seventh end as they won out 9-4.
Coming after a second-placed finish at the Red Deer Curling Classic at the end of last month, it’s been a very fruitful finale to the year for Fleming.
The men’s competition was won by Team Ulsrud of Norway, who beat Canadians Team Lyburn 8-5 in that final.
In Scotland, the Dumfries Challenger Series drew in teams from the home nation and across Europe.
Section A of the men’s competition was topped by Team Mouat (Bruce Mouat, Bobby Lammie, Derrick Sloan, Gregor Cannon, Alasdair Schreiber), who took wins over Teams Thune (8-3), Haubjerg (7-1), Gallacher (8-3) and Jamieson (conceded) – while Thune also made the playoffs.
Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle, Frazer Shaw) edged fellow Scots Team Hardie (Grant Hardie, Blair Fraser, David Reid, Duncan Menzies) for top spot in Section B, Bryce winning the head-to-head 5-1 and also beating Teams Grzelka (7-1), Brunner (7-3) and Hamilton (6-0) – Brunner joined Bryce and Hardie in making the last eight.
And in Section C it was Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) who came out in first spot, with victories over Teams Fraser (6-3), Jungen (10-3), De Mollinedo (7-4) and Telfer (6-1) – Fraser and De Mollinedo also reaching the quarters.
The last eight matches saw wins for Bryce (7-3 versus Fraser), Hardie (5-3 over Thune), Smith (7-4 against Brunner) – and, pulling off a shock, the Spaniards De Mollinedo, four in end seven and two in end eight giving them an 8-4 triumph versus Mouat.
Come the semi-finals, Bryce scored four in end three and three in the sixth to outgun De Mollinedo 8-3, while Smith scored two in end one, stole in ends two and three, before adding more singles in ends five and six, then a two in the eighth as they saw off Hardie 8-4.
The final was a suitably close encounter, with the rinks exchanging singles throughout.
But it was Smith who ultimately took the match and the title, scoring ones in ends one and three, blanking end five, and adding ones in ends six and eight to win it 4-3.
“It’s been a terrific first half of the season. They have [made] a final at a Grand Slam and won two tour tournament victories – all this puts us in the top 15 in the world.
“Now we get a few days off over Christmas, then back to camp in Braehead just before New Year’s Eve, then we start the second half of the season with the Canadian Open in North Battleford (January 3-8).”
In the women’s section, Teams Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair) and Mathis (Switzerland) secured direct progress to the semi-finals, Jackson beating Teams Lander (7-4), Hazel Smith (5-2), Gina Aitken (10-2) and Barbezat (6-4).
The quarter-finals were then contested between Teams Aitken, Barbezat, Gisler and Smith, with Aitken (Gina Aitken, Rowena Kerr, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen) and Barbezat making the semis, both by 6-5 scorelines and both stealing in the eighth end to clinch it.
Jackson won the dramatic last-four tie with Barbezat, stealing one in end eight to win 4-3, but Aitken could not make it an all-Scottish final, beaten 5-4 by Mathis after giving up a three in end six.
That final was also very tight, with Mathis taking a 3-0 lead after two ends but Jackson battling back with a steal of two in end seven for 6-6, only for the Swiss rink to take one in the eighth for the victory.
We had a close final but unfortunately lost. We have had a great weekend and would like to thank our sponsors for all of their support!😊
Finally, we come to the Lockerbie Junior International, a part of the Asham U21 Slam series.
Team Whyte (Ross Whyte, Callum Kinnear, Ryan McCormack, Duncan McFadzean) were looking to take advantage of U21 Slam nemesis Team Bryce competing in Dumfries instead of Lockerbie, and they topped their section with four wins from four.
In the semi-finals they edged out Team McNay 5-4, scoring two in end eight, before facing Team Baird in the final.
Two in end two, three in end four and two in end six gave Whyte a 7-2 triumph.
In the B-Division, England men sit on a W2 L3 record, Wales men on W3 L2 and England women on W4 L2. Follow scores from their remaining games here.
Moving outwards from Scotland, our next stop is Bern in Switzerland, where an inaugural mixed doubles competition took place this weekend.
There were two Scottish teams involved – Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat, and Judith and Lee McCleary – among 32 participants from across Europe, from Spain to Russia.
In the triple knockout format, Aitken/Mouat won their first match against Iseli/Iseli of Switzerland 10-2, and remained on the A-Road by thumping French pair Morand/Borani 14-4 (stealing five in end two).
They set up an A final by overcoming Jaeggi/Freiberger of Switzerland 7-0, but were defeated 6-4 by Hajkova/Paul from the Czech Republic.
On the B-Road they overcame Hungarian pair Szekeres/Nagy 7-2 but lost out 9-3 in the B final against Turmann/Lill of Estonia, before making the playoffs at the third time of asking by defeating Huembelin/Gubler (Switzerland) in emphatic fashion, 13-2.
McCleary/McCleary also won their first three matches, 8-6 against Swiss duo Wild/Wild, then 7-3 versus Noreen/Noreen of Sweden, and 9-2 over Grunder/Hartmann from Switzerland.
But like Aitken/Mouat they too lost their A final, 10-4 against Perret/Rios (Switzerland), and they were then knocked down to the C-Road by another Swiss pair, Michel/Michel, after a 9-6 defeat.
And a third successive loss to Swiss opposition, Jaeggi/Freiberger (6-5 after an extra end), tore up their playoff hopes – though they would still contest the Consolation event.
Aitken/Mouat faced Russian pair (and mixed doubles powerhouse) Bryzgalova/Krushelnitsky in the quarter-finals, and despite a four in end four they went into the eighth end 6-5 behind – but they had hammer, and scored two to win the match 7-6.
In the last four the Scottish team had a rematch with Hajkova/Paul and this time it had the opposite outcome – Aitken/Mouat scored twos in ends one and four and stole three in end five for an 8-1 victory.
The final pitted them against Tamara and Sven Michel, and the Scots had the perfect start, with four in end one, then a steal of two in end two for a rapid 6-0 lead.
The Swiss scored two in the third end, but two for Aitken/Mouat in end four and a steal of one in end five saw the match finish 9-2 to them – meaning they had taken the title!
Strung together three good games today to Win the First Bern Mixed Doubles tournament. 💪🏼 Thanks to British… https://t.co/IXqRJfffkF
The Scottish success did not end there either. McCleary/McCleary had battled into the Consolation competition final with wins over Swiss teams Iseli/Iseli (9-5, with five in end six) and Clostre/Panzera (7-4).
In the Consolation final they were up against Camilla/Per Noreen – the Scottish pair stole one in end three but at halfway the Swedes led 3-2. Twos in ends five and seven, however, gave McCleary/McCleary the win 6-4.
With the Scottish Mixed Doubles Championship taking place on December 8-11, these two teams have picked a fine time to hit form as they prepare to battle each other (and six other pairs) in Braehead.
And now onto Canada, where three Scottish rinks competed at the Red Deer Curling Classic in Alberta.
In the men’s competition, Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) made it straight through to the A-Road final by defeating Teams Powell (5-2), Yablonski (5-2) and Park (4-2).
But there they suffered their first defeat – 6-4 against Team Geall. Though that was soon made up for, as they saw off Teams Lizmore 6-5 and Hanson 5-0 to make the last eight.
Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Bobby Lammie (subbing for Thomas Muirhead), Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith), meanwhile, continued their recent good form – having made their first Grand Slam final last weekend – by joining Murdoch in making the playoffs.
Smith began with a 7-1 win over Team Heidt, then progressed to the A final with victories over Teams Hansen (5-2) and Appelman (7-3).
There they were edged 7-6 by Team Bottcher, but – after a rip-roaring 7-2 win over Team Koe – they secured a spot in the playoffs by beating Appelman again, 5-4 this time.
In the quarter-finals, Smith snuck past Team (Jamie) Koe, scoring two in end eight to win 6-5, but Murdoch exited the competition, beaten 6-3 by Appelman.
The last four pitted Smith against Koe again – Kevin this time – and this time the reigning world champions claimed the win, with two in end eight to take it 5-4.
Koe went on to secure the title, beating Appelman 6-5 after an extra end in the final.
Over on the women’s side, Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) made it to the knockout stage at the earliest opportunity.
Fleming powered into the playoffs with wins over Teams Min Ji Kim of Korea (4-3), Ogasawara of Japan (8-0, stealing three in end three and four in end five) and Ramsay (8-1, stealing four in end seven).
In the last eight Fleming defeated Team Kleibrink 6-4 thanks to three in end four and a steal of two in end six, and they booked their spot in the final with a fine 5-3 victory over Team Rocque, stealing two in end two and adding the decisive deuce in end seven.
But they fell short at the last against the in-form Team Chyz, giving up steals of one, three and one in the first three ends, meaning twos in ends four and six could not save them from an 8-4 defeat.
Good weekend in red deer, sadly losing out in the final to @teamchyz thanks to all the organising comittee for a well ran friendly event.
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.
Confirms its a game of inch's…. Battled hard on tricky ice but just missed out. Europeans up next in Glasgow!
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.
We won our final game against Team Aitken so we are off to the B Division Championships in January! 😁
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.
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!
We beat Switzerland 7-4 in the final! We have had a great weekend and would like to thank all of our sponsors for their support 😊
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.
Lost yesterday to Team Morris, finishing on 1-3. Not what we were after but we will go again in two weeks! #GSOC#2016WFGmasters #
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.
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.
Teams Brewster and Muirhead did it again – overcoming their compatriots to represent Scotland on the international stage.
Last season’s Scottish Championships winners (and subsequent World Championships participants) will be the home teams at next month’s European Championships in Braehead.
Speaking of Worlds, four Scots are taking part in the World Mixed Curling Championship in Kazan, Russia, and so far have won two from two.
Perth hosted the Playdowns to decide who would represent Scotland at the upcoming home European Championships – involving three men’s teams and two women’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) played a double round robin before a best-of-three final.
It was Murdoch who made the fast start, with two wins. First they overcame Brewster 7-5 (scoring twos in ends two, five and eight, and stealing one in end nine) and then they defeated Smith 8-5, with three in end two, two in end five and a steal of two in end 10.
However, Brewster got their first win on the board by edging Smith 6-5 (two in end two, steal of one in eight and using hammer for one in end 1o) and then drew level at the top of the standings on W2 L1 courtesy of a 6-3 victory over Murdoch, scoring two in end three and stealing three in end four.
Smith, who have had an impressive start to the season but found themselves W0 L2 here, had to beat Murdoch to keep their hopes of making the final alive. But again they suffered a 6-5 defeat, giving up a three in end six having been 4-1 up after five ends.
Already qualified Brewster then won 9-7 against Smith in the final round robin match, last season’s European qualifiers departing with no wins and four defeats.
The first of the final matches saw Brewster storm into a 4-0 lead through a steal of one in end two and two in end three, though Murdoch narrowed the gap to 4-2 at halfway.
Brewster, undeterred, scored two in end six and stole one in end seven to win the match 7-2.
Murdoch therefore had to win the next game, but were struck a heavy blow when Brewster scored three in end three, then stole one in end five, leading 5-1 at the halfway mark.
The rinks then exchanged twos up to end nine, where Brewster’s takeout for a deuce prompted handshakes at 9-5 – and European qualification for his team.
We did it!!! 2-0 in the final means we'll be representing Scotland at the Europeans… in GLASGOW!!… https://t.co/rLH8ZKNGzX
As for the women, Teams Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) and Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Kelly Schafer, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) went head-to-head in a best-of-five series.
Muirhead laid down an early statement of intent with a 9-3 win in the opener, scoring three in end five and twos in ends seven and nine.
The second match was tighter, Fleming scoring two in end four but Muirhead leading 3-2 at halfway… then taking a steal of three in end six. Two in end seven and a steal of one in end eight couldn’t pull it back for Fleming, Muirhead winning 7-5.
Fleming needed victory in the third match to stay in contention, and started it with a steal of two in end one. Muirhead, though, scored twos in ends two and four, the game level at 4-4 after five.
Muirhead took two in end six, but Fleming replied with two in end eight – the rinks then exchanging ones to set up an extra end at 7-7. Crucially for Muirhead, they held hammer in the extra, and scored two for a 9-7 victory – and qualification for Braehead.
Day 2 + 2 wins = Europeans bound! Excited to be playing the European championships at home in Glasgow! #ecc2016
The 2016-17 season has already seen success for the likes of Team Bryce, Team Hardie, Team Jackson and Team Smith in Scotland and overseas, while last weekend Teams Fleming and Murdoch reached the final of Curling Champions Tour events.
October sees plenty more events, including the first Grand Slam of the season and those all-important European Championship Playdowns…
Team Hardie look to defend their title, and indeed repeat last season’s exploits, where they won both the Braehead Open and Dumfries Open to kick off their curling year in style. Other Scottish teams vying for the title include Team Mouat and Team Taylor, while there is a strong women’s representation through Teams G Aitken and Smith, as well as mixed teams and challengers from England and Wales.
Livechannel Cup(European Junior Curling Tour) Dates: October 7-9
Number of teams: 19 (14 boys’; 5 girls’)
Scottish team: Team Bryce
Prize money: SEK 40,000
Last year’s winners: Team Eremin (Russia); Team Panthera (Sweden)
Team Bryce fly the flag for Scotland at this European Junior Curling Tour event in Härnösand, Sweden. They’ve had an impressive start to their season, what with wins at the EJCT Braehead International and two Asham U21 Slams. Should Bryce emerge from their pool, the likes of Team Lottenbach (Switzerland) and Team Ramsfjell (Norway) pose threats.
The first RCCC national competition of the season returns to Stranraer, as 15 teams over over-50s (two males and two females in alternate positions) challenge for the honours in a social atmosphere. Trevor Dodds’ rink return to defend their title, as do last season’s runners-up Team Horton, and Team Craig, the winners the year before that.
Women’s Masters Basel(Curling Champions Tour) Dates: October 7-9
Number of teams: 24
Scottish teams: Team Fleming, Team Muirhead
Prize money: CHF 32,000
Last year’s winners: Team Sidorova (Russia)
Last season Team Fleming made the quarter-finals at this event in Switzerland, Team Muirhead the semis. Fleming performed superbly last weekend in making the Stockholm Ladies Cup final, while Muirhead made two finals out in Canada in the weeks before that. In this triple knockout competition, Fleming start against Team Schöpp, Muirhead versus Team Maillard. Other rinks to watch out for include those of Silvana Tirinzoni and the on-song Anna Hasselborg. Selected games will be livestreamed here.
Reigning champions Angus Bryce’s rink do not return, so there will be a new winner for the one-day U14 Slam. Teams, divided into four sections, will play four-end matches in their groups, before high and low road deciders.
Who will represent Scotland as the nation hosts the European Curling Championships in Braehead in November? In Perth, Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith will challenge for the men’s spot, while Teams Fleming and Muirhead contest the women’s. Fleming will be looking to pull off an upset over their best-of-five-match series, while the men’s teams play each other twice before a best-of-three final – Smith have started the season very well, Murdoch reached the Swiss Cup Basel final last weekend, and Brewster have pedigree aplenty.
Mixed doubles is catching on like wildfire and here we have another event, in Alberta, Canada. No Scottish teams are taking part in this one, but there are rinks representing China, Hungary, Russia and the USA, as well as 10 Canadian teams including Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant, 2016 Canadian Mixed Doubles champions.
World Mixed Curling Championship 2016(World Curling Federation) Dates: October 14-22
Number of teams: 37
Scottish team: Team Bryce
Last year’s winners: Team Walstad (Norway)
Kazan, Russia, hosts the second installment of the World Mixed Curling Championship, the first won by Norway last season. Scotland is represented by Cameron Bryce (skip), Katie Murray (a one-event detour back into the sport after stepping back this season), Bobby Lammie and Sophie Jackson. They face Belarus, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and Romania in Group A. England, Wales and Ireland also have teams involved.
Austrian Mixed Doubles Cup(Curling Champions Tour) Dates: October 20-23
Number of teams: 12
Scottish team: Team Aitken/Mouat
Prize money: €2,800
Last year’s winners: Team Toth/Wunderer (Austria)
Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat made the quarter-finals at the Canad Inns Mixed Doubles last weekend, and they will be back in action in the new Olympic format in Kitzbühel, Austria. The likes of Oona Kauste/Tomi Rantamäki (Finland) and Ildikó Szekeres/György Nagy (Hungary) will provide stiff competition.
Curling Masters Champery(Curling Champions Tour) Dates: October 20-23
Number of teams: 24
Prize money: CHF 40,000
Last year’s winners: Team Grattan (Canada)
Teams Brewster and Smith participated in this event last season, but no Scots are taking part this time around (it is hot on the heels of the European Playdowns). There’s no lack of quality in the field in Switzerland though, with Teams De Cruz, Edin, Kauste and Ulsrud among the 24 involved.
Hazel Smith’s new rink (her team-mates being Sarah Reid, Laura Ritchie and Claire Hamilton) face a quality field in this cashspiel in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Teams Einarson, Fleury, Homan, Jones and McCarville are some of the Canadian sides involved in the triple knockout competition, while Teams Hasselborg, Kim (reigning champions), Tirinzoni and Wang lead the international challenge.
The next stage of the one-day U14 Slam events, following the one in Forfar earlier in the month. Last season’s winners Team Craik have aged out, so once again the contest is well and truly up for grabs among Scotland’s very young curlers.
Masters (Grand Slam of Curling) Dates: October 25-30
Number of teams: 30 (15 men’s; 15 women’s)
Scottish teams: Team Murdoch, Team Smith; Team Muirhead
Prize money: $100,000; $100,000
Last year’s winners: Team McEwen (Canada); Team Homan (Canada)
The season’s opening Grand Slam takes place in Okotoks in Alberta, with three Scottish teams part of a world-class field based on the Order of Merit rankings up to 2016-17 week four. In the opening round-robin stage, Teams Murdoch and Smith (making their top Slam debut after competing in Tour Challenge tier 2 last season) face each other first up, before playing Teams Carruthers, McEwen and Morris. Team Muirhead are up against Teams Kim, Pätz, Rocque and – last but certainly not least! – Homan.
Riga International Curling Challenge (Curling Champions Tour) Dates: October 28-30
Number of teams: 12
Prize money: €3,000
Last year’s winners: Team Demkina (Russia)
This women’s competition held in Riga, Latvia, returns for a second year. No Scots on board, but Teams Barbezat (Switzerland), Driendl (Germany), Kauste (Finland), Lundman (Sweden) and Maillard (Switzerland) are Curling Champions Tour regulars.
Thirty teams, covering provinces across Scotland, are divided into six groups for this competition at Greenacres. Those sections then lead to quarter-finals, high and low road semi-finals and high and low road finals. The club teams competing have all won their provincial qualifier to get here.
As with the Province Championship, this competition features sections and knockouts heading towards high and low road finals – matches being up to six ends. Last year’s high road winners and runners-up, Teams Kinnear and Craik, are back – while Lisa Davie’s women’s rink, fourth at the Kinross Junior Classic U21 Slam last weekend, are also contenders.
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.
Finished with a 2-2 record here @StockholmLCC wasn't enough to make the playoffs… Now time to re cap and move forward with @howardfour ☺️
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.
Tough game vs Carson but pulled through by 1, semis tomorrow vs the one and only Grant Barr and @PubTeamCurling
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.
Scottish rinks Team Smith and Team Muirhead had great runs at the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard and HDF Insurance Shoot-Out respectively, only to be denied glory at the last.
Smith had their magnificent winning run in Canada ended at 12 games by Team Edin at the semi-final stage in Oakville, the Swedes going on to win the competition.
The new-look Muirhead rink, meanwhile, were beaten in the Shoot-Out final in Edmonton by Team Scheidegger, who pulled off a remarkable comeback win.
Team Smith (Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell, Cammy Smith) had won the Oakville OCT Fall Classic last weekend, so had form going into the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard, one of 20 teams in the men’s tier 1 event (triple knockout format).
Smith began with a 7-0 win over Team Kean, scoring three in end one and stealing their way to victory in just four ends, before beating Team Epping 5-2, with two in end six and a pair of steals in ends seven and eight.
That set up an all-Scottish clash with Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan), who’d scored threes in ends two and four to beat Team Shuster of the USA 7-1 – but here it was Smith who triumphed, a two in end four crucial in their 4-2 win.
So now Smith faced Team Edin of Sweden for a place in the quarter-finals – and they got off to a brilliant start, scoring four in end one, winning the game 5-2 in five ends.
As for Brewster, they were beaten 5-4 by Team Carruthers to drop to the C-Road, where they defeated Epping 5-2 but then lost 8-3 to recent Baden Masters winners Team De Cruz, the damage done in the first end as the Swiss scored five.
Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) were undone 6-1 by De Cruz in their first match, but won on the B-Road against Team Retchless 6-3, with a three in end one.
But further defeats to Team Balsdon (6-5, having given up four in end two) and Team Dunstone (7-3, after going 5-1 down after three ends) saw them exit the competition.
As for the women’s competition, Team Fleming’s (Hannah Fleming, Jennifer Dodds, Vicky Wright, Alice Spence) first competition of the season saw them start against Team Sinclair of the USA – who won 5-2.
On the B-Road, a four in end three (after having given up a four in end two!) helped them on their way to a 7-6 victory over Team Perron, following that with a 5-3 win over Team Auld.
But a four in end two propelled Team Tirinzoni to an 8-5 victory over the Scots, who were then knocked out by Team Harrison 7-6, Fleming hauling themselves from 6-2 down to level but being denied another steal in end eight thanks to Jacqueline Harrison’s superbly-judged tap.
Team Tirinzoni won the women’s title (defeating Team Flaxey 8-5 in the final), while Team Van Dorp of the Netherlands beat Team Horgan 4-2 to triumph in men’s tier 2.
Teams Aitken (Gina Aitken, Rowena Kerr, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen) and Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Kelly Schafer, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray) were placed in the same pool at the HDF Insurance Classic in Edmonton, Alberta.
Aitken – in their first competition since their new line-up came together – struggled, losing to Team Schmiemann 5-4 after an extra end, Team Fujisawa of Japan 8-1, Team Eberle 11-2 (7-0 down after just three ends) and Team Driendl of Germany 6-3.
But Muirhead, with Gray in at lead and Schafer covering for Anna Sloan, rolled off the wins – 5-4 against Fujisawa, 8-3 against Eberle (a textbook game – two with hammer, force to one without), 7-3 over Driendl (threes in ends six and seven) and 7-1 against Schmiemann.
Their final pool match pitted them against each other, with Aitken stealing their way to a 5-2 lead after six ends. Muirhead, though, scored two in end seven and stole singles in end eight and the extra to snatch it 6-5.
Muirhead’s quarter-final match against last season’s Scotties winners Team Carey was more routine, as they stole two in end two on their way to a 4-1 lead at halfway, before a two in end seven finished the Canadians off at 7-2.
Team Rocque were their opponents in the last four – twos in ends two, six and seven ensured Muirhead’s progress against the hometown rink by a score of 6-3.
The final saw Muirhead face Team Scheidegger – who had surprisingly knocked out Team Sweeting in the quarter-finals – and things started well for the Scots as they scored two in end one and three in end three, leading 5-2 after four ends.
But from there the Canadians reeled off four successive steals of one to win the match 6-5 – an opportunity missed for Muirhead, as the plucky Scheidegger rink won the day, but a fine run in their first competition of the season with two new players.
Started the day strong with a semi final win but unfortunately couldn't finish it off in the final… We had a great run though! #RunnersUp
Elsewhere in the curling world this weekend, the World Curling Federation’s Annual General Assembly took place in Stockholm, Sweden.
The 54 member associations approved the WCF’s proposed resolutions for sweeping and brushes in elite level curling, allowing the world governing body to “set rules, specifications and policies for sweeping techniques and brush technology” for the first time – see the full news story here.
In short, these rules define the accepted sweeping motion (can be in any direction), approved sweeping devices for each player (no brush/brush head changes), and the penalties for breaching the standards (player/team disqualification).
In addition to the sweeping rulings, other announcements were made, including that the Andorra Curling Association will host its first championship (the European Curling Championships C-Division 2017) and Champery in Switzerland will be the setting for the World Mixed Curling Championship 2017.