Weekend round-up: Canada conquer World Men’s

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Canada (Team Koe), World Men’s champions (photo: twitter.com/CurlingCanada/status/719213209387831296)

Kevin Koe and his Canadian rink won gold at the World Men’s Curling Championship in Basel, Switzerland, while Denmark took silver and the USA bronze.

Scotland (Team Brewster) missed the playoffs, but finished their week strongly with a win over the defending champions Sweden.

Meanwhile, in Aberdeen, Cameron Bryce’s rink retained their Scottish Mixed Championship title and again earned passage to Worlds.

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Scotland (Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan, Scott Andrews (alternate)) opened their Worlds campaign with a 9-3 victory over Korea, then an impressive 6-3 win against last year’s runners-up Norway.

But from there the wheels seemed to fall off, as the team suffered five consecutive losses. After a 9-6 defeat to Russia, they looked set to recover against Japan, only to give up a steal in the extra end to lose 6-5.

They were then beaten 5-3 by Canada, 5-4 by Switzerland and 9-7 by the USA, the latter two results both after an extra end.

The Scots finally stopped the rot against Finland, a three in end eight capping a 7-3 victory, and then beat Germany 7-6, taking their one with hammer in the extra end.

Yet another extra end loss followed against Denmark, 7-6, but they finished their tournament on a high with a three in end 10 to defeat the holders Sweden 6-4.

Skip Brewster reflected: “It’s nice to finish on a win and it’s good for Olympic points  But it’s what could have been, I think. The guys have played great and we’ve learned a lot – I’ve learnt a lot and they’ve learnt a lot.

“Mike [Harris] our coach was saying that last night… there’s a lot of great things there and if we take that experience and move on we can only be a stronger team next season.”

Scotland ended up in seventh position, on five wins and six losses, behind Norway and Sweden, last season’s finalists both failing to make the final four.

Canada defeated Denmark 5-3 in the 1v2 playoff, before the USA saw off Japan 5-4 in the 3v4 game (though their three in end eight was a controversial one, as a Japanese shooter bounced off the boards and kept a US stone biting).

Rasmus Stjerne’s Danes overwhelmed the USA 9-3 in the semi-final – the Americans going on to win bronze by beating Japan 8-6.

In the final, Denmark scored two in end three but Canada hit back with two in end five and then claimed two in end nine for a 5-3 lead before running the Danes out of stones.

That meant gold for Kevin Koe, Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing, Ben Hebert and alternate Scott Pfeifer, continuing what has been an enormously successful season for the Koe crew – and it is Canada’s 35th World Men’s win.

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Back in Scotland, the Scottish Mixed Championship took place at Curl Aberdeen, with seven teams formed of two males and two females playing in alternate positions.

Cameron Bryce, Katie Murray, Bobby Lammie and Sophie Jackson won the championship last season and returned to defend their title – they qualified for the final by beating Mouat 6-2, Marshall 8-2, A. Bryce 7-4, Penny 6-1 and Fraser 9-7, only losing one round robin game, 5-2 to Waddell.

Also making the final on a W5 L1 record were Blair Fraser, Rowena Kerr, Duncan Menzies and Abi Brown – their victories coming against Marshall 6-5, Mouat 9-1, Waddell 10-2, Penny 9-4 and A. Bryce 4-1.

Fraser’s rink began the final with a steal of one, but Bryce scored one in end two and then stole one in three, three in four and two in five to lead 7-1.

Fraser took three in end six to give themselves hope, but Bryce hit back straight away with their own three in end seven to win the game 10-4 and retain the championship.

Their reward is a trip to Kazan, Russia, for the World Mixed Curling Championship from October 15-22.

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Finally, the Ladies One Day Bonspiel, run by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club’s ladies branch, took place in Kinross.

Sixteen teams (two players with more than five years of curling experience, two players with less than five years) played in two sections of eight.

Section A was topped by Team Drysdale (Maggie Scott, Elizabeth Glennie, Jane Drysdale, Lesley Johnston), who defeated Milne 7-2 and Nicoll 9-2.

And Section B was headed by Team White (Margaret White, Pat Galloway, Janice Sutherland, Karen McCreath), winners over Corstorphine 8-1 and Adams 6-3.

Team Drysdale were overall winners, with more shots up than Team White.

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Tom Brewster taking on tough field, one shot at a time

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

Having formed a new team (Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan) in the wake of the 2014 Olympics, Tom Brewster has steered them to represent Scotland at the World Men’s Curling Championship this week.

Joined by alternate Scott Andrews and coach Mike Harris, they kick off their campaign in Basel, Switzerland, against Korea tomorrow.

I spoke to Brewster to preview Worlds before his rink set off for the competition.

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The team reached the final of the Aberdeen International last weekend, finishing as runners-up to Team Murdoch.

For Brewster, it was excellent preparation for Worlds.

“It was great to get back on the ice again, as we haven’t really competed in an event since the Scottish Championships,” he said.

“It got the brain thinking again competitively, tactically. Technically you can do all the work you want, but until you’re playing games you don’t quite switch on properly.

“So I think it’s helped greatly, and hopefully it’ll hold us in great stead for Saturday.”

Brewster juggles his skipping role with a job as manager at Curl Aberdeen, and so I asked how successful he felt the inaugural event had been from that perspective.

He said: “We set the event up in April May last year, British Curling stepped in to support it, to increase the quality events in Scotland and bring better quality teams across, to give as many Scottish teams as possible the chance to play in a strong field.

“I think we succeeded – from the feedback from the teams everybody loved it and hopefully they’ll support it again next year and we’ll have a bigger field, a stronger field, which is great for curling in Aberdeen and Scotland.”

On to Worlds then, and making sure the team is fit and firing for the start of the round robin, which runs from tomorrow through to Thursday (playoffs Friday to Sunday).

“Rest and recuperation is the big thing really,” Brewster explained.

“We’ve got some training ice on Thursday for us to fine-tune any bits and pieces that we’re not too happy with from the weekend.

“Then on Friday we have practice in the arena that we’re playing in.

“The time will disappear very quickly, so it’s about making sure we eat properly, and get as much rest and recovery as we can.”

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Team Brewster (photo: Tom J Brydone)

The Worlds routine is something Brewster is used to, having been a medallist at this level in 2002, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

I asked him to compare the experience and quality of the field this year to others that he’s faced in the past.

“It’s very strong,” he said. “It’s always strong at this level and this year is no different.

“The Canadians are strong, you’ve got Niklas Edin’s Sweden playing at the top level, Thomas Ulsrud [Norway] won it a couple of years ago… it’s a top field.

“So you always have to play at your best and hopefully get a little bit of luck along the way.”

The venue for this year’s event – St Jakobshalle – is one Brewster is familiar with, as it hosted World Men’s in 2012 too.

“It’s a nice arena – it’s used mainly for tennis,” Brewster said. “The ice is made up for this event, so it’s something of a one-off.

“There was a good set-up the last time. They had a few issues with the ice last time in terms of humidity, but they’ll have rectified that for this event with a dehumidifier, so I’d expect the ice conditions to be even better than last time.”

He’s also very familiar with the team’s alternate, Scott Andrews having been on Brewster’s rink up to Sochi.

I asked what assets Andrews brings to the team for Basel.

“Scott brings experience from previous championships,” Brewster said.

“He knows me very well, I know him. He knows how I operate, how I run the team, what I will expect from the team members.

“That saves a lot of hassle in itself, as he can just go straight in, we all know each other well, so he’ll fit in well.”

Finally, what are the key factors in staying in the running through to the end of the week and the playoffs in this competition?

Brewster said: “It’s the old cliche but it holds true – one shot at a time, one end at a time, one game at a time.

“You can’t look too far ahead because every shot matters.

“You want to focus on all the little things, and hopefully the big things will take care of themselves.”

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Follow #wmcc2016 live scores through the event page, as well as updates from the Royal Caledonian Curling Club’s site – and, of course, the Roaring Game Blog Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Selected matches (including Scotland v Canada) will be shown online through World Curling TV, while Eurosport also has some coverage through the week.