A little further north of Minnesota, the hotbed of curling (and therefore the gold medal favourites in every Olympic Games) saw its Olympic representatives decided.
Team Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) were in Eveleth, Minnesota (USA), for the Curl Mesabi Classic.
They began well, with wins over Teams Rhyme (5-2) and Martin (6-5), but defeats to Rocque (3-2) and Schultz (6-4) forced them into a tiebreaker with McPhee, which they won to make the quarter-finals.
The last eight pitted them against Rocque again, and once again the Grand Slam regulars were too strong, with twos in ends three and six helping them to a 6-2 victory – and Rocque went on the win the title, beating Roth in the final.
The Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings culminated in Ottawa, Ontario, this weekend, and it’s Teams Homan and Koe who will represent Canada at next year’s Olympic Games.
Team Carey topped the women’s round robin with eight wins from eight, but after Homan defeated reigning Olympic champions Jones in the semi-final, it was the current world champions who triumphed 6-5 in the final.
On the men’s side, Koe finished W7 L1 to book their place in the final; McEwen beat Gushue in the semi, but could not repeat the trick – Koe winning 7-6.
They will be joined at Pyeongchang 2018 by Denmark men (Stjerne), Italy men (Retornaz), China women (Wang) and Denmark women (Dupont), after they emerged from the Olympic Qualification Event in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
That means that the Olympics will feature the following teams:
Men – Canada, Denmark, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, USA; women – Canada, China, Denmark, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, Russia (subject to International Olympic Committee decision), Sweden, Switzerland, USA.
Finally, this weekend also saw the Perth edition of the Asham Under-14 Slam take place at the Dewars Centre.
A total of 16 teams competed across four sections, before the High Road final was contested between Teams Chalmers and Maguire.
McGuire (Inca Maguire, Holly Wilkie-Milne, Laura Watt, Emma Allan) won 5-1 to clinch the title.
Team Jackson retained their women’s title at the Braehead Junior International, while Team Carson made it a Scottish double by triumphing on the men’s side.
There was also action in Forfar this weekend, while Teams Brewster and Hamilton took part in competitions further overseas.
Braehead welcomed 18 men’s teams and 14 women’s for the Junior International event on the European Junior Curling Tour (EJCT).
There were seven Scottish rinks on the men’s side, with five making the knockout stages – and a sixth (Team Craik) just missing the playoffs by a few centimetres in the draw shot rankings.
Teams Baird and Gallacher topped Pool A, with Team Whyte joining Team Nygren (Sweden) at the summit of Pool B, and Teams Kinnear and Carson dominating Pool C.
The quarter-finals brought wins for Carson (8-2 against Baird), Nygren (6-4 over Gallacher), Ramsfjell of Norway (5-3 versus Kinnear) and Whyte (6-1 against Lochmann of Switzerland).
Come the last four, Carson beat Nygren 8-4 and Ramsfjell saw off Whyte 6-2.
In the final, twos in ends three, four and six helped Carson (Luke Carson, Ben Cormack, Euan MacDiarmid, Mark Taylor) win 7-5 to clinch the title, while Nygren beat Whyte 5-4 for third spot.
There were six Scottish teams in the women’s competition, and four of them – Teams Davie, Farmer, Jackson and Morrison – progressed to the playoffs.
In the last eight, Davie saw off Chmarra (Poland) 6-4, Jackson defeated Morrison 6-4, Tanner (Switzerland) beat Farmer 6-5, and Witschonke of Switzerland eased past Podrabska (Czech Republic) 9-2.
The semi-finals were all-Scottish and all-Swiss affairs, with Jackson beating Davie 6-3 and Witschonke defeating Tanner 7-2.
As for the final, it was rather one-sided, as Jackson (Sophie Jackson, Naomi Brown, Mili Smith, Sophie Sinclair) got two on the board in the first end before blowing it open with five in the fourth and a steal of two in the fifth to win 9-1.
Davie won the third-place match 7-6.
A solid performance in the final means we have retained our title as Braehead European Junior Curling Tour winners! 🏆
The latest stop on the Goldline Scottish Curling Tour was the Forfar Curl Fest, involving 12 teams.
The semi-finals were won by Team Barr (against Marshall) and Team Dick (versus Prentice), with Grant Barr’s rink going on to take victory in the final.
Team Brewster (Tom Brewster, Duncan Menzies, Scott Andrews, Alasdair Schreiber) were in Canada for the Ashley Home Store Curling Classic, and finished Pool C with a W4 L1 record.
Wins against Teams Laycock, McQuiggan, Pierce and Tardi, with their only defeat coming against Mike McEwen’s rink.
The quarter-finals proved their limit, however, as they lost 4-3 (after extra end) to Team Koe, who went on to beat Team Edin in the final.
And Team Hamilton (Claire Hamilton, Gina Aitken, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen) headed to Estonia for the Tallinn Ladies International Challenger, and beat Teams Link, Pavlyuchik and Telnova to make the playoffs (only losing to Team Widmer).
Like Brewster, they went out in the last eight, again to an extra-end defeat – 5-4 against Team Kauste of Finland – as Swiss rink Widmer won the final against Baksheeva (Russia).
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.
“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.
The first Goldline Scottish Curling Tour event of the season took place this weekend, with Team Bryce claiming the Braehead Open title.
Elsewhere, the new Team Hamilton competed at the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, Canada, and fell just short of a quarter-final spot.
The Braehead Open involved 22 teams in two sections, playing three pool matches ahead of the last 16.
The rinks making the quarter-finals were Teams Bryce, Carson Gray, Hardie, Hare, Ireland, Marshall and Woolston.
Bryce and Hare met in the final, which was 3-3 after five ends, but after Hare scored two, Bryce claimed three, meaning Bryce went into the final end 6-5 up but without hammer.
They managed to force the error, though, stealing one for a 7-5 win – and added to the Tallinn International they won earlier in the month, that’s two wins from two events for Team Bryce (Cameron Bryce, Ross Whyte, Robin Brydone, Euan Kyle).
The new-look Team Hamilton (Claire Hamilton, Gina Aitken, Rachael Halliday, Rachel Hannen) were the latest Scottish rink to head across to Canada – for the Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
In a triple knockout format, they began with a 7-6 loss to Flaxey to slip onto the A-Road, but wins over Eberle and Fleming set up a B-Road final with Jennifer Jones’ rink.
The Olympic champions won that encounter, and Hamilton’s campaign was ended in the C-Road final, as they lost to Holland, just one match short of a quarter-final place.
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.
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.
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!
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?