Teams Fleming and McNay take the plaudits

TeamFleming-Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart
SMILES: Team Fleming. Pic: British Curling/Graeme Hart (Perthshire Picture Agency)

Team McNay emerged victorious at the Dumfries Open, while over in Switzerland Team Fleming reached the semi-finals of the Women’s Masters Basel.

The weekend also saw the Scottish Curling Senior Mixed Championship take place, and Scotland (Team Hardie) begin their campaign at the World Mixed Curling Championship.

***

The Women’s Masters Basel involved two Scottish rinks – Teams Fleming (Hannah Fleming, Jen Dodds, Alice Spence, Vicky Wright) and Muirhead (Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams, Lauren Gray).

Fleming took the simplest possible route to the playoffs, as wins over Witschonke, Norberg and Matsumura sent them straight into the quarter-finals.

Muirhead – the reigning champions – also began well, with victories against Widmer and Hegner, but a loss to Fujisawa (giving up three steals in the last four ends) knocked them down onto the B-Road.

A second defeat, to Sidorova, followed, but Muirhead then beat Widmer again and Sigfridsson to set up a last-eight clash with Fleming.

The all-Scottish match went Fleming’s way, as they scored twos in ends three and five and one in end eight to win 5-4, and Muirhead’s title defence was over.

Having put so much into that match, though, things rapidly fell apart for Fleming against Feltscher in the semi-finals… the Swiss rink winning 8-1.

The final went the way of Bingyu Wang’s rink, the Chinese team beating Feltscher 9-3 to claim the title.

For Hannah Fleming, who had not beaten Muirhead since 2013, this win (and overall tournament performance) will give her and her team-mates hope of narrowing the gap to their Scottish friends and rivals as the season goes on.

***

The second event in this year’s Goldline Scottish Curling Tour, the Dumfries Open, saw 10 teams take part – initially separated into two pools of five.

Team Jamieson topped Pool A with four straight wins, while Team Gallacher clinched Pool B and the other direct route into the semi-finals.

To see who would join them, Bryce met Taylor and McNay faced Pougher of Wales in the quarter-finals – which went the way of Bryce (8-3) and McNay (7-5).

Both of those rinks then won in the last four, Bryce seeing off Jamieson 7-4 and McNay breezing past Gallacher 7-1.

The final was a see-saw affair, with Bryce stealing their way into a 3-0 lead but McNay scoring three in the third end to level, before the teams traded singles up to end seven, where McNay scored two.

Bryce were forced to one in the eighth end, taking the game into an extra end, but McNay held hammer and scored one to win 7-6 – meaning it was they (Cameron McNay, David Baird, Robin McCall, Gavin Barr) who took the title.

***

The Scottish Curling Senior Mixed Championship was held at Stranraer Ice Rink over the weekend, again with 10 teams in two groups.

The round robin stage ended with Teams Adam, Cannon, Kesley and McQueen making the semi-finals.

There, Adam beat McQueen 9-2 and Cannon overcame Kesley 8-5, setting up a final which was won 6-5 after an extra end by Adam (Graeme Adam, Alison McLennan, Stuart Wilson, Carolyn Hibberd).

***

There were 16 teams involved in the first Asham Under-14 Slam of the season at intu Braehead.

The final saw Team Munro (Robyn Munro, Findlay Hare, Rory Dodds, Ben Kyle) beat Braehead Rockers 5-3 in four ends.

***

Finally, at the World Mixed Curling Championship 2017, in Champéry, Switzerland, Scotland (Grant Hardie, Rhiann Macleod, Billy Morton, Barbara McFarlane) have two wins and a loss so far.

They opened with wins over Spain and Ireland, only to then lose 6-5 after an extra end to Korea.

Their next match sees them face Denmark; you can stay up to date with the scores from the tournament here.

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Scotland win bronze at World Mixed Championship

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Bronze medal winners (L-R): Sophie Jackson, Bobby Lammie, Katie Murray, Cameron Bryce (photo: worldcurling.org/wmxcc2016/teams)

Scotland’s young team only lost one match as they claimed bronze at the World Mixed Curling Championship in Kazan, Russia.

They were beaten in the semi-finals by eventual silver medallists Sweden, as the Russian hosts took gold, but recovered to take bronze ahead of Korea.

Elsewhere this weekend, Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat finished as runners-up at the Austrian Mixed Doubles Cup, and more Scottish curlers competed at home, in Norway and in Canada.

***

There have been two World Mixed Curling Championships, and Cameron Bryce (skip), Katie Murray, Bobby Lammie and Sophie Jackson have represented Scotland at both of them.

Last year in Bern, Switzerland, they exited the competition at the last 16 stage, but they surpassed that achievement by some distance in Kazan.

The Scots kicked off their group stage challenge with an 8-3 win over Italy, and followed that by beating Norway 8-1 and Japan 7-4.

Further victories against Romania (8-4) and Belarus (9-5, with a five in end two!) saw them ease into the knockout stages, and a sixth win from six was secured as they saw off New Zealand 7-2.

Ireland’s foursome finished the competition with¬†a W2 L4 record (beating Brazil 13-4 and Slovakia 6-4), while Wales were W4 L3 for the event, narrowly missing a playoff/tiebreaker place despite defeating Croatia (7-6, after an extra end), Slovenia (8-1), the Netherlands (8-3) and Estonia (6-3).

England were even closer, wins against Brazil (12-1), Ireland (8-5) and Finland (6-4) earning them a tiebreaker against the Finns, only for their opponents to edge it 6-5 and make the playoffs themselves.

Scotland the last British side standing, they took on the USA in the round of 16, the stage at which they’d gone out to Switzerland last season.

No problems this time round, Bryce’s rink scoring three in end two and stealing one in end four for a 4-1 win.

To the quarter-finals then, and a big match with Canada, who like Scotland were yet to lose a game.

Scotland stole two in the first end, but Canada took singles in ends two and three, and the Scots were forced to one in end four for a 3-2 lead at halfway.

Canada took two in end five and they led 5-4 going down the eighth Рbut Scotland, crucially, held hammer. And they used it to maximum effect, as skip Bryce made a takeout to score two and win the match 6-5.

Sweden were their opponents in the last four, and they proved too much for Scotland to handle. Successive steals in the first three ends saw the Swedes 3-1 up at halfway, and they took two in end five and three in end seven to take the game 8-2 and make the final.

A tough result for Scotland to pick themselves up from, but they had to go again in the bronze medal match with Korea.

There they again found themselves 3-0 down after giving up a steal of one in end one and two in end two, but they fought back with singles in ends three and four.

A crucial steal of two in the fifth end put Scotland ahead for the first time in the game, a lead they carried into the eighth at 5-4.

Korea had hammer down the last, but Scotland had four shot stones ahead of opposing skip Lee Kibok’s final stone – a raise takeout attempt which only cleared one stone, giving the Scots a steal of three, an 8-4 victory and the bronze medals!

In the final, Sweden –¬†runners-up in 2015, beaten by Norway¬†–¬†finished second again, Russia winning gold after a 5-4 extra-end victory.

Reflecting on his team’s bronze medals, Scottish skip Cameron Bryce said: “It‚Äôs always good to bounce back after a defeat in the morning. We wanted to make sure we went home to Scotland with a medal. We started off slow so we had to do it the difficult way and steal our way through.

“Bronze is good now, but we were really disappointed this morning. After a couple of days we‚Äôll be really happy with our bronze.”

For photos from the event, check out the WCF Facebook album here.

***

Another Scottish success story came at the CCT Austrian Mixed Doubles Curling Cup in¬†Kitzb√ľhel, as Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat – who have both been selected in¬†the British curling squad for¬†the next Winter University Games – finished as runners-up.

The Scottish pair eased through the pool stages of the event, beating Zubercova/Gallo of Slovakia 16-3, Reitsma/Genner (Austria) 12-3 and Mayrhans/Kapp (Germany) 8-1.

In the first playoff round, they defeated Fischer/Roth (Austria) 9-3, with two in end three, four in end five and two in end six, to wrap up a semi-final spot.

There they scored twos in ends one and three, stole one in end four and added another three in end seven to overcome Kauste/Rantamaki of Finland 8-3 and make the final.

The final proved a step too far for Aitken/Mouat, up against the Hungarian pair of Ildiko Szekeres and Gyeorgy Nagy.

It was finely poised after the fourth end with the Scots leading 4-3 courtesy of twos in ends two and four, but the Hungarians scored three in end five then took single steals in ends six, seven and eight for a 9-4 victory.

Nevertheless, a positive result for Aitken and Mouat, who continue their mixed doubles progress with the CCT Mixed Doubles Cup Geising next weekend.

***

There were more up-and-coming Scottish teams in action this weekend in events at home and abroad.

The second Asham Under-14 Slam of the season, after the event in Forfar earlier this month, took place in Stranraer.

The four sections were topped by Teams Stewart, Ryder, Stranraer 1 and Stranraer 2.

And so in the high road semi-finals, Stranraer 1 defeated Ryder 4-1 and Stranraer 2 beat Stewart 7-2.

That set up an all-Stranraer final, and it was Stranraer 2 (Robyn Munro, Robbie Lyon, Finlay Aldred, Iona Irving) who triumphed over Stranraer 1 (Matthew McCrone, Kaleb Johnstone, Kerr Lyon, Thomas Hay), scoring three in end one and adding singles in ends three and four to clinch a 5-2 victory, while Ryder defeated Stewart 4-1 for third spot.

In the low road final, it was Forfar winners Team Gallacher (Hamish Gallacher, Scott Hyslop, Jack Strawhorn, Jack Carrick) who came out on top, beating Team Gow 6-1.

Further afield, meanwhile, Teams Baird (David Baird, Fraser Kingan, Robin McCall, Gavin Barr) and Aitken (Karina Aitken, Rebecca Morrison, Hailey Duff, Laura Barr) took part in the EJCT Oslo event in Norway.

Baird started with a 7-1 victory over Team Kringlebotrn, and then saw off Team Studer of Switzerland 9-4.

Two 6-5 defeats to Norwegian rinks followed, to Teams Foss (after an extra end) and Myran, but they then overcame Team Bremanis of Latvia 7-2 for a spot in the quarter-finals.

There their progress ended, Team Nygren of Sweden stealing three in end eight to beat the Scots 8-5.

In the girls’ section of the junior event, Aitken lost 8-5 to Norwegians Team¬†Forbregd but were 8-5 winners themselves in their next match, against Team Bremane of Latvia.

However, two losses against Swedish rinks, Teams Sundberg (4-3) and Westman (6-2), saw them exit on a W1 L3 record.

The boys’ winner at¬†the event were Team¬†Muskatewitz of Germany, beating Myran 6-4 in the final, and on the girls’ side it was Sundberg who triumphed in an all-Swedish final, 8-3 versus Westman.

***

Finally, there were Рas ever Рan abundance of events taking place in Canada over the weekend, ahead of the first Grand Slam of the season this week.

Team Brewster, having just won the European Playdowns to represent Scotland in Braehead, took part in the Medicine Hat Charity Classic in Alberta.

Brewster’s rink – Tom Brewster, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson, Hammy McMillan – couldn’t carry over their form from Perth though, losing to Team Scharback (4-2) and Team Stroh (5-4) to drop to the C-Road.

There they finally picked up a win, beating Team Kleibrink 6-2, then added another – defeating Scharback 9-0, capped by a steal of five in end five – but a 6-1 loss to Team Appelman ended their run a match short of the playoffs.

Team Smith (Hannah Smith, Sarah Reid, Laura Ritchie, Claire Hamilton) also made the trip to Canada, competing in the Canad Inns Women’s Classic in Manitoba alongside some stellar names – Teams Homan, Jones, Sigfridsson and Tirinzoni to name but four.

Their first match was a daunting one, against Stockholm Ladies Cup winners and European Championships qualifiers Team Hasselborg, and the Swedes won 9-1.

Another defeat followed, 7-3 against Team Middaugh, and a 5-2 loss versus Team Barbezat of Switzerland on the C-Road saw their participation finished.

The playoffs for both the Medicine Hat Charity Classic (follow here) and Canad Inns Women’s Classic (here)¬†are being contested later¬†today.

As for the Challenge De Curling De Gatineau in Quebec, it was Team Epping (with ‘super spare’ Craig¬†Savill) who triumphed, overcoming Team Dunstone 4-3 in the final.

One last thing! Back in Europe, Team Edin claimed yet another title in what has been an incredibly fast start to the season for the Swedes, beating Team Pfister 7-5 in the Champery Masters final.

The tournament was televised through World Curling TV, another step forward in their attempts to expand the sport’s reach.

 

Brewster and Muirhead to represent Scotland in Braehead

brewster-win-playdowns
Team Brewster, men’s winners in Perth (photo: twitter.com/Team_Brewster/status/787670325081305089)

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.

 

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.

***

Also this weekend, the World Mixed Curling Championships began in Kazan, Russia, with Scotland in Pool A alongside Belarus, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway (the defending champions) and Romania.

Scotland’s team is the same as in 2015 – Cameron Bryce, Katie Murray, Bobby Lammie and Sophie Jackson – and they have made a positive start this year, with three wins.

Those have come against Italy (8-3), Norway (8-1) – albeit an entirely new Norwegian team to last year’s champions – and Japan (7-4).

Scotland’s next match is against Romania tomorrow, 2pm UK time.

Follow their progress in the remaining games here, or via the Roaring Game Blog Facebook and Twitter pages.

October 2016 curling preview

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Team McEwen, last season’s GSOC Masters men’s winners (photo: Grand Slam of Curling/Anil Mungal (anilmungal.com))

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…

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Dumfries Open (Scottish Curling Tour)
Dates: October 7-9
Number of teams: 18
Prize money: £2,050
Last year’s winners:¬†Team Hardie (Scotland)
Website: http://scottishcurlingtour.blogspot.co.uk

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)
Website: https://www.facebook.com/EJCTLivechannelCup

Team Bryce fly the flag for Scotland at this European Junior Curling Tour event in¬†H√§rn√∂sand, 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.

***

Scottish Curling Senior Mixed Championship (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Dates: October 7-9
Number of teams: 15
Last year’s winners: Team¬†Dodds
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/scottish-curling-senior-mixed-championship-4

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)
Website: http://www.womensmasters.ch/english/home

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.

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Forfar (U14 Slam) (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Date: October 9
Number of teams: 16
Last year’s winners: Team¬†Bryce
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/asham-under-14-slam-fofar

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.

***

European Playdowns (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Dates: October 12-16
Number of teams: 5
Last year’s winners: Team Smith; Team¬†Muirhead
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/european-playdowns-4

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.

***

Service Experts Mixed Doubles Classic (Curling Champions Tour)
Dates: October 14-16
Number of teams: 17
Prize money: $12,500
Last year’s winners:¬†N/A
Website: http://sherwoodparkcurling.com/mixed-doubles-classic

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)
Website: http://www.worldcurling.org/wmxcc2016

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: ‚ā¨2,800
Last year’s winners:¬†Team¬†Toth/Wunderer (Austria)
Website: http://www.curling-austria.at/events.html

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 Kitzb√ľhel, Austria. The likes of Oona Kauste/Tomi Rantam√§ki (Finland) and Ildik√≥ Szekeres/Gy√∂rgy 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)
Website: http://www.curling-masters.ch

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.

***

Canad Inns Women’s Classic¬†(World¬†Curling Tour)
Dates: October 21-24
Number of teams: 32
Scottish team: Team Smith
Prize money: $60,000
Last year’s winners: Team Kim¬†(Korea)
Website: http://www.worldcurl.com/events.php?task=Event&eventid=4239

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.

***

Stranraer (U14 Slam) (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Date: October 23
Number of teams: 16
Last year’s winners: Team Craik
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/asham-under-14-slam-stranraer

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)
Website: http://www.thegrandslamofcurling.com/curling/masters

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, P√§tz, 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: ‚ā¨3,000
Last year’s winners: Team Demkina¬†(Russia)
Website: http://kerlingahalle.lv/ricc

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.

***

Scottish Province Championship (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Dates: October 28-30
Number of teams: 30
Last year’s winners:¬†Loch Leven
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/scottish-province-championship-4

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.

***

Lanarkshire (U17 Slam) (Royal Caledonian Curling Club)
Dates: October 29-30
Number of teams: 24
Last year’s winners: Team¬†Kinnear
Website: http://competitions.royalcaledoniancurlingclub.org/competitions/asham-under-17-slam-lanarkshire-3

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.

Team Bryce spotlight

Team Bryce (L-R): Cameron Bryce, Zack Stewart, Fraser Kingan, Frazer Shaw
Team Bryce (L-R): Cameron Bryce, Zack Stewart, Fraser Kingan, Frazer Shaw – Jayne Stirling Photography (facebook.com/JayneStirlingPhotography)

Team Bryce are an academy men’s team looking to provide a bright future for Scottish and British curling, currently competing in the Scottish Curling Tour and junior events.

Who are the team members, and what are their objectives for this season and beyond? Read on to find out…

Q: Could you introduce the members of the team – how long they’ve been curling and what they bring to the team dynamic?
A: Frazer Shaw (lead): I have now been curling for seven years – I started in my last year of primary school. I am an outgoing and competitive person. I really enjoy curling with my team because we have such a good friendship, built over the past couple of seasons. I feel that I bring an element of fun to the team when appropriate, as well as the desire and energy to win.
Fraser Kingan (second): I have been curling for nine years. I am a very motivated and competitive person and always put my all into every game I play. This benefits the team as it helps us to all get fired up for each game which makes us all play better.
Zack Stewart (third): I have also been curling for nine years since starting at Dumfries at the end of primary school. I am the most reserved member of our team – this allows me to keep a level head during our games and try to keep my team-mates’ heads in the right place when we are on ice. I am also highly motivated and I really enjoy pushing myself in training and games.
Cameron Bryce (skip): I started curling at the age of 10, also at primary school. This is my 10th season. On the ice I am quite laid-back when in play. I don’t get stressed or flustered when we are under pressure in a game. With Zack and myself being calm, it benefits our team in big games. I am highly motivated and I train at every possibility, to get the best out of myself.

Cameron Bryce at the Kinross Junior Classic
Cameron Bryce at the Kinross Junior Classic – Brydone Images (facebook.com/brydoneimages)

Q: Cameron, you skipped the Scottish team at the World Mixed Curling Championship last month – how would you sum up that experience?
A: In my first experience on the world stage, I found my time very enjoyable. It was a great stepping stone for the season ahead and beyond.
It definitely helps for coping with some pressure situations and makes me hungry to be back at a world championship event in the near future.

Q: This is your third season together – how does that familiarity help you out on the ice?
A: It gives us a real consistency both on and off the ice. We know when we need the support and can work really well together when this occurs.
We all know each other’s strengths and we can really use that to our advantage when at competitions.
The attributes we all bring to the ice are really positive. Going into the start of this season we are all putting that extra effort in, both physically and mentally.

Q: You have a new coach – Keith Prentice. What does he offer you as a team?
A: First of all, Keith has a lot of great experience in curling – from coaching high performance teams over the past few years, to competing for Scotland in the World Senior Championship, and winning.
Keith has been in many situations we aspire to be in, going into major championships, and we feel he is the right person to help us achieve our goals.
We hope this combination can work really well to build a similar sort of consistency in our game.

Q: How happy were you with your 2014-15 season overall?
A: We felt the 2014-15 season went really well. We achieved some great results throughout the season, our highlight being the Scottish Men’s Championship.
However, we didn’t play our best in the junior finals Рso if we had to say the result we were most disappointed in, it would have to be that.

Q: Looking ahead, what are your ambitions for the 2015-16 season?
A: Our main ambition for the season is to win the Scottish Junior Championships.
But this is just a stepping-stone for our team ambitions – to compete and medal in the World Junior Championships.

World Mixed Curling Championship 2015: Norway claim historic win, Scotland beaten by hosts

Norway won the inaugural World Mixed Curling Championship in Bern, Switzerland, as Scotland suffered an agonizing post-group stage qualifying round exit.

The competition replaced the European Mixed Curling Championship, with 36 World Curling Federation member countries from four continents entering one team of two male and two female players.

It was a young Scottish team which had qualified for the event, with skip Cameron Bryce joined by Katie Murray, Bobby Lammie and Sophie Jackson, and coached by Barbara McFarlane.

Scotland were placed in Pool D, alongside Austria, Belarus, Brazil, Estonia, Hungary, Japan, Turkey and the USA.

They had to wait until session four for their first match, but started with a bang, scoring four in end two and five in end six in a 13-2 victory over Brazil.

The Scots then racked up wins over Estonia (12-4), Japan (4-2), Belarus (12-1) and Turkey (9-2), before a crunch meeting with fellow unbeaten side Hungary.

The Hungarians were simply blown away, though, as Scotland scored four in end two and the stole three in ends three and four on their way to an 11-3 victory.

Their own unbeaten record was lost in the next match, however – the USA proved too strong as they came through 9-3.

They bounced back by beating Austria 6-3 in their final pool match, but the USA still finished top of Group D and therefore Scotland needed to win a play-off match to make the quarter finals.

As for the other teams from the British Isles competing in Switzerland, England finished on a P1 L7 record, Wales W3 L5 and Ireland W4 L4.

Scotland faced the hosts Switzerland in their quarter-final qualifier. A very tight match, it was 2-2 after four ends but Scotland led 4-3 after six.

The Swiss scored two in end seven, meaning Scotland were 5-4 down but had hammer in the eighth.

They played that end well and it looked set up for skip Bryce to claim two and the victory, but his final stone was a little wide, giving Switzerland a steal of one – and the win, 6-4.

You can watch that match here.

In the quarter finals, China beat Germany 8-3, Norway defeated the USA 7-5, Russia won 8-3 over Canada and Sweden squeezed to a 5-4 win over Switzerland.

The semi finals saw Norway (7-3 against China) and Sweden (6-5 over Russia) progress, setting up a repeat of the 2014 European Mixed Curling Championship final, won by Sweden.

This time Norway triumphed, winning 5-3. That meant Sweden had to settle for silver, while China won a 5-4 extra-end clash with Russia for bronze.