Curling 2015-16: Second half season review

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Team Mouat, World Juniors gold medallists (photo: Tom J Brydone (facebook.com/brydoneimages))

Summer is here and the 2015-16 curling season is at an end – so it’s time to look back on the triumphs, disappointments and progress made during the year.

I reviewed the first half of the season in December – you can read that here – so this post will focus on January-May.

From World Championships to Grand Slams, World Curling Tour events to tournaments on Scottish soil, there was plenty for curlers and curling fans to get stuck into.

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Canada and Switzerland won the World Men’s and World Women’s Curling Championships respectively – Scotland failed to make the playoffs at either event.

Team Muirhead were once again the Scottish representative at World Women’s, this year held in Swift Current, Canada, and organised by a former GB Olympian – and Eve Muirhead team-mate – Kelly Schafer.

The current Team Muirhead put themselves in a promising position to make the playoffs with seven straight wins (including a 7-1 victory over Russia), but they slid from 5-1 up against Switzerland to lose 7-6… and further defeats to Japan and Canada saw them crash out.

Skip Muirhead said afterwards: “It’s hard to take that we’re out but we lost the last three games and at major championships you just can’t do that.”

Binia Feltscher’s Swiss rink defeated Japan 9-6 to claim gold – remarkably, that’s Switzerland’s third World Women’s in a row, and a fourth in five years.

Come World Men’s in Basel, Switzerland, Scotland was represented by Team Brewster – their skip Tom Brewster had won World medals before, but as a rink they were relatively inexperienced at this top level.

The Scots won their first two matches, but then lost five on the bounce to see their playoff hopes slip away. They finished strongly though, with wins over Finland, Germany and Sweden – the latter knocking the 2015 champions out of the playoff reckoning themselves.

Skip Brewster reflected: “It’s what could have been, I think. The guys have played great and we’ve learned a lot. If we take that experience and move on we can only be a stronger team next season.”

Team Kevin Koe, who had made it out of one of the toughest Brier fields in history to qualify for Worlds, took gold in Basel by beating Denmark 5-3.

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So a disappointing seasons for Scotland in the World Curling Federation events? Not exactly.

In March, Team Mouat won men’s gold at World Juniors in Copenhagen, Denmark, having recorded W7 L2 in the round robin stage to make the 1v2 playoff.

There they beat the USA 7-5 to reach the final, where they would again face the Americans. Twos in ends two and four proved the difference as Scotland won 6-3 to take the top spot on the podium!

Unfortunately Scotland women (Team Jackson) had a rather more difficult time in Copenhagen, losing seven games and being relegated to the B-Division for next season.

In April, the World Mixed Doubles and World Senior Championships took place in Karlstad, Sweden – with more success for Scottish (and British!) teams.

Jackie Lockhart’s Scottish women won gold in the Seniors event, defeating Germany 5-4 after an extra end in the final, which ensured they went the entire competition unbeaten; Scotland men (skipped by Gordon Muirhead) made it to the quarter-finals before losing to Canada.

In the World Mixed Doubles, Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and Gina Aitken (who had won the Latvian Mixed Doubles Cup just weeks before) scored an excellent fourth-place finish and collected 2018 Olympic qualifying points aplenty.

They had to do it the hard way though, coming through a tiebreaker and stealing one in end eight to beat reigning champions Hungary 6-5 in the last 16.

They recorded another 6-5 win in the quarter-finals, against Canada, before losing to China in the semis – and then missing out on bronze to the USA, as Russia won gold.

England (Anna and Ben Fowler) also performed strongly, taking eighth place overall, as did Ireland (Alison and Neil Fyfe) who came 12th.

And, while we’re on mixed doubles, a mention must go to Ross Whyte, who claimed a silver medal for GB in the discipline – partnered with Han Yu of China – at the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, back in February.

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In tour events, Teams Murdoch and Muirhead had particularly strong finishes to the season.

David Murdoch’s men had to shrug off the disappointment of losing the Scottish Championship final to Team Brewster (the Brewster rink were superb all week in Perth – solid, consistent and in control right to the end), but did so in fine style.

They had already won the German Masters in January, and as the season drew to a close they claimed the inaugural Aberdeen International Curling Championship in March and the European Masters in St Gallen, Switzerland, in April – as well as making their first ever Grand Slam of Curling semi-final at the Players’ Championship in Toronto.

Toronto was also the setting for a Team Muirhead triumph, Eve’s rink winning their third Players’ Championship title in the city (with Cathy Overton-Clapham as ‘super sub’, Anna Sloan having picked up an injury after Worlds).

A couple of weeks earlier, Team Muirhead (with Mairi Milne subbing for Sloan) had won the first ever Perth Ladies International – a competition which they had invested considerable time into getting off the ground and attracting a strong field from across the world.

The Perth Ladies was televised on BBC Alba, as was the 40th edition of the Perth Masters earlier in the year – which also had a strong entry list, including world champions in waiting, Team Koe (naturally, they won in Perth too).

The events in Perth, added to the Aberdeen International and Glynhill Ladies International (another strong field and also won by one of this season’s best teams, Tirinzoni of Switzerland), indicate a bright future for quality, more widely broadcast curling events in Scotland… just in time for the European Championships in November this year (and three more between then and 2020), you might say.

Nor should I forget the Scottish Curling Tour, which continues to provide a stepping stone for Scottish teams to experience high quality competition ahead of potentially taking on the world’s best. This season’s SCT was won by Team Mouat, ahead of Team Hardie in second.

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So what lies ahead in 2016-17? Personally I’m looking forward to seeing if the younger Scottish teams – like Mouat and Smith – can join the usual suspects – Brewster, Murdoch, Muirhead – in making an increasingly big impact on the world stage.

As the 2018 Olympics draw closer, mixed doubles will surely continue to gain attention as a fresh and exciting discipline full of medal potential at the highest level.

And – there’s no getting away from it – broom technology/technique will also be a talking point. The World Curling Federation has released a survey for curling’s stakeholders and announced a ‘sweeping summit’ will take place later this month… but we must wait until September for definitive new regulations.

Whatever happens, The Roaring Game Blog will continue to cover it. Scottish curling, its players and its fans deserve it – and more.

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Weekend round-up: Scottish success in Karlstad

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Senior women’s world champions – Team Scotland (photo: World Curling Federation/Celine Stucki)

The Scottish teams in Karlstad, Sweden, for the World Mixed Doubles and World Senior Curling Championships made quite an impact on the global stage.

The senior women’s team skipped by Jackie Lockhart won gold, while mixed doubles pairing Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat pulled off some shocks on their way to a fourth place finish.

Meanwhile, at the European Masters in St Gallen, Switzerland, Team Murdoch won the men’s competition and Team Muirhead were runners-up in the women’s.

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At the World Mixed Doubles, Scotland (Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat) were in a tough group (three of the top six teams in the final standings appearing in it) but got off to a brilliant start by beating Russia 9-8, scoring two in end eight and stealing one in the extra end.

They crashed back down to earth with a bump, losing 8-2 to the Czech Republic, and although they defeated Wales 8-4 and Qatar 19-0, they were W3 L2 and just clinging onto their playoff hopes after being beaten 9-7 by Estonia.

But they secured a tiebreaker by beating Brazil 12-2, which set up a rematch with the Czechs – this time Scotland emerged as winner, Aitken making a superb runback in the extra end to win 6-5.

Wales (Dawn Watson and Adrian Meikle) were W1 L5 in Group F, their victory coming against Qatar, 13-2.

England (Anna and Ben Fowler) qualified in second from Group C, having beaten Romania 9-2, Luxembourg 11-2 and Kazakhstan 9-2, losing 9-4 to Norway, then defeating Japan 10-2 and Turkey 8-2.

And Ireland (Alison and Neil Fyfe) made it out of Group D, but they did it the hard way, finishing W3 L3 and needing to beat Italy in the tiebreaker, which they did 8-7, and then Turkey in a final qualifying game to make the 1/8 finals (won 7-5 after an extra end).

In the last 16, Scotland faced a formidable opponent in the shape of reigning champions Hungary. They were 4-2 down after four ends but fought back and played an exceptional eighth end to steal one and win 6-5.

England scored twos in ends two, three and five as they overcame Korea 7-5, but Ireland gave up a five in end seven to lose 10-5 to Finland.

The Irish pair did beat Hungary 10-8 in the B event quarter-finals though, guaranteeing Ireland Olympic points for 2018, before rounding off their competition with losses to Slovakia (12-2) and Austria (9-6) to place 12th overall.

Come the quarter-finals, Scotland played Canada – they stole one in end four, scored two in end six and took their one in end eight to win 6-5.

England found themselves 7-0 down after three ends against the USA and despite scoring four in end four they lost out 12-6, bringing an end to their excellent run. Defeats to Estonia (10-8) and Finland (6-3) in the ranking games put them in a very commendable eighth place for the competition.

Scotland started their semi-final against China well, scoring three in end two, but China got two in end three and then steals of one in ends four to seven, meaning Scotland’s two in end eight was not enough – the Chinese winning 7-5.

They just missed out on a medal too – losing the bronze medal game 9-7 to the USA – but that should not take away from what was a fantastic run for Aitken and Mouat, who have hoovered up plenty of Olympic qualifying points for GB looking ahead to 2018.

Gold went to Russia (Anastasia Bryzgalova and Alexander Krushelnitskiy), who defeated China 7-5 to triumph.

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Taking place in Karlstad at the same time as the World Mixed Doubles, the World Senior Curling Championships saw Scotland women go undefeated on their road to gold.

The team (Jackie Lockhart, Christine Cannon, Isobel Hannen, Margaret Richardson, Margaret Robertson (alternate)) were W7 L0 in their pool – beating Italy 9-1, Switzerland 8-1, New Zealand 8-1, Austria 8-1, Russia 10-3, Germany 6-5 (after an extra end) and the USA 6-5.

Scotland men (Gordon Muirhead, Norman Brown, David Hay, Hugh Aitken) also qualified from their pool, with wins over the Czech Republic (7-4), Latvia (7-2), Russia (11-4), Germany (7-2), Belgium (13-2), Wales (9-5) and Switzerland (6-1), and one loss to the USA (7-6 after an extra end).

England men just missed out on the playoff places, finishing W5 L3 in their pool, while Wales men had a W3 L5 record.

Sadly the quarter-finals proved the limit for Muirhead’s rink, losing out 4-3 to Canada (who won silver, as Sweden took gold and Ireland the bronze).

No such problems for Lockhart’s women though. Topping their group meant they went straight into the semi-finals, where they overcame Sweden 8-6 with a two in the extra end – Sweden went on to win bronze with a 10-5 win over England, who had come first in their pool on W8 L0.

The final against Germany was another tight affair – Scotland scored twos in ends four and seven but it went to an extra end, where Lockhart got her one to win 5-4 and claim gold!

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Three Scottish teams took part in the men’s competition at the European Masters in St Gallen, open to the top ranked teams on the Curling Champions Tour this season.

Team Murdoch topped the standings by beating compatriots Team Brewster 5-4, Team Edin 4-1, Team Keller 8-1, Team Van Dorp 7-3, Team Smith 5-4 and Team Zang 7-1 – with only one loss, 6-3 against Team Michel.

Smith had a strong start with wins over Van Dorp (4-1), Zang (6-3) and Michel (6-1) – but losses to Brewster (7-5) and Murdoch rocked them back. They overcame Keller 4-2 but a 7-4 defeat to Edin saw them miss out on making the final – the Swedes going through to face Murdoch instead.

Beginning with three defeats (to Murdoch and then Keller and Edin) meant Tom Brewster’s rink were up against it to make the final, and they couldn’t quite make it despite beating Smith, Van Dorp (4-3), Zang (7-2) and Michel (5-4).

In the final, Murdoch scored three in end five and stole two in end six to overcome Edin 6-3 and take the title. Keller beat Smith 5-3 in the bronze game.

Scotland were represented in the women’s event by Team Muirhead (with Nadine Lehmann of Team Pätz filling in for the injured Anna Sloan).

Muirhead began with two losses – 8-5 to world champions Team Feltscher and 6-5 to Team Sigfridsson – but victories over Teams Wrana (6-4), Driendl (8-3) and Wang (8-4), plus other results going their way – saw them into the final.

They weren’t able to finish the job though – Feltscher scored five in end one and Muirhead couldn’t quite pull it back, the Swiss winning 6-5. Bronze went to Daniela Driendl’s German rink.

The Muirhead rink (again with Lehmann subbing in) join Teams Mouat and Murdoch in competing in the curtain-closer for the season – the Grand Slam of Curling Champions Cup, running from tomorrow until Sunday, May 1.

Weekend round-up: Team Muirhead win third Players’ Championship

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Team Muirhead, Players’ Championship winners (photo: Grand Slam of Curling/Anil Mungal)

Team Muirhead reigned supreme in Toronto once again, winning their third Players’ Championship in the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

It was also a successful competition for Team Murdoch, as they reached their first ever semi-final at a Grand Slam of Curling event.

Meanwhile, in Karlstad, Sweden, Scotland’s teams have begun their campaigns at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and World Senior Curling Championships.

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Team Muirhead – Eve Muirhead, Vicki Adams and Sarah Reid being joined by Cathy Overton-Clapham at second, with regular vice-skip Anna Sloan still out with her ACL injury – went into the Players’ Championship as holders.

They began well, beating Team Pätz 6-5 with twos in ends three and six, plus a steal in end four.

Muirhead then lost 8-5 to Team Rocque (giving up a five in end six) but bounced back with wins over Teams Sweeting (4-3) and Jones (7-4), the latter seeing them go 5-0 up after four ends and seeing it out.

They finished off the pool stage with a 5-4 victory over Team Sidorova (stealing one in end two and scoring two in end four), which set up a quarter-final against Team Brown.

The Scots overwhelmed their American opponents, scoring twos in ends one and three, stealing three in end four and then finishing the game with a five in end seven for a 12-4 scoreline.

The quarters also saw a shock exit for Team Homan, the top women’s rink this season, to Team Einarson (7-6, after being 6-2 up), but not before they had sealed the Rogers Grand Slam Cup for their consistency in the big events.

In the semi-finals, Muirhead had another fast start, scoring threes in ends two and four as they overcame Team Tirinzoni 7-2, in a repeat of the Perth Ladies International final.

It was a clash of the multiple Players’ Championship winners in the final in Toronto, as Muirhead (two titles) took on Jones (five titles).

Muirhead made a clutch draw against four for one in end one, then stole in end two to lead 2-0. Jones hit back with three in end three, but a two for Muirhead in end four nudged them back ahead at halfway.

Jones was forced to one in end five, before Muirhead blew the game open with two excellent skip stones to score three.

The Canadians scored two in end seven to narrow the gap to one, but the Muirhead rink held their nerve in end eight, scoring two to win the game 9-6 and clinch another title.

Skip Muirhead said: “I just seem to really love it here. It seems to bring out the best [in us]. Three times we’ve been here and three times won it.

“I’m happy it’s here the next year as well. I think it’s really the crowd that makes it. The ice conditions have been fantastic. My team has been great all week.”

This title caps a hugely successful couple of weeks since Worlds, having won in Perth and Toronto now, and is a testament to the fine work of ‘super spare’ Overton-Clapham.

It also secures Team Muirhead a spot in the season-ending Champions Cup, which runs April 26-May 1.

Team Murdoch (David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow) were placed in a tough-looking group but came through with three wins to two losses.

After taking Team McEwen to an extra end before losing 7-6, they defeated Team Shuster 8-6 – stealing two in the extra end!

They followed that up by beating Team Laycock 8-6, with two in four, three in end six and two in end eight – and then came another match with an extra end, or rather two extra ends, as David Murdoch made an extraordinary shot to clear the house to blank, before claiming one in the extra extra to win 6-5.

Murdoch lost 5-2 to Team Gushue (giving up a four in end five) in their last pool stage game, but they had still secured a quarter-final spot.

There they played Team Howard, taking the victory 8-2 thanks to three in end three, two in end five and a steal of two in end six.

That set up another match with Gushue, and again Gushue proved too strong – scoring twos in ends one, five and seven to win 6-2 – but it was a great run by the Murdoch rink (to their first ever Grand Slam semi) who, like Muirhead, are having a strong finish to the season.

Gushue, the Rogers Grand Slam Cup winner on the men’s side, went on to win a tight final against Team Jacobs, stealing one in end two, scoring two in end six and blanking end eight to win 5-4.

For more photos from the event, see the gallery here, and – as ever – Ben Hebert’s Sheet Show is a delight.

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Back in Europe, the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and World Senior Curling Championships are underway.

At time of writing, Scotland’s mixed doubles pairing of Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat sit W1 L1 after a 9-8 victory over Russia (stealing one in the extra end) and a 8-2 defeat to the Czech Republic.

Anna and Ben Fowler of England sit on two wins after being Romania and Luxembourg, while Wales’ Dawn Watson and Adrian Meikle have one win (over Qatar) and one loss (to Brazil) – and Ireland (Alison and Neil Fyfe) are also W1 L1 having beaten Italy and lost to Canada.

Follow live scores from the rest of the tournament here, and watch selected games on World Curling TV.

In World Seniors, meanwhile, Scotland men (Gordon Muirhead, Norman Brown, David Hay, Hugh Aitken) won their first match 7-4 against the Czech Republic, but lost their second, 7-6 against the USA after an extra end.

They bounced back with a win in their third game though, 7-2 versus Latvia.

Scotland women (Jackie Lockhart, Christine Cannon, Isobel Hannen, Margaret Richardson, Margaret Robertson (alternate)) won their opener 9-1 versus Italy and they followed that up with 8-1 victories over Switzerland and New Zealand.

As for the other teams from the British Isles, both England men and women sit W4 L0, Wales men are W2 L2, and Ireland men W4 L1.

Keep up to date with World Seniors scores throughout the week here.

World Mixed Doubles: England and Wales Q&A

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Anna and Ben Fowler, Team England in Karlstad

It’s not just Scotland waving the flag for British interests at the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Karlstad, Sweden, from tomorrow.

England are represented by siblings Anna and Ben Fowler, while Dawn Watson and Adrian Meikle are playing for Wales.

The Roaring Game Blog spoke to the English and Welsh curlers before they travelled to take part in the competition.

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Roaring Game Blog (RGB): When did you first play mixed doubles and how did that come about?
Anna Fowler (AF): I first played mixed doubles in 2009 in the national championships with my older brother Sam Fowler. We played three years in a row and never managed to win the championships. I then played with my ladies team coach, John Sharp, in 2013 when Ben and Hetty Garnier (my third) won the nationals. Hetty was unable to go to the Worlds due to school commitments, so I went with Ben to New Brunswick, Canada. Having never played together before, this was really difficult for us and despite coming close, we didn’t manage to win a game. The experience was enough to put me off the game for nearly three years!
In 2015, Ben and I decided to enter the nationals together and I pulled myself out of my early mixed doubles retirement. We had a fantastic championships in Dumfries and won the final against last year’s champions, Lana Watson and Alan MacDougall.
Dawn Watson (DW): I first played in a competition in Braehead with John Brown (English) as we were playing in a weekend competition and thought it would be fun.
Subsequent to that I had the opportunity to play for Wales in the World Mixed Doubles in Dumfries with Adrian.
Adrian Meikle (AM): 2013-14 as the opportunity to play in the World Mixed Doubles in Dumfries came about, being ‘local’.

RGB: What do you like most about the discipline?
AF: I think the game has really benefited from the new rules – movement of the placed stone to the back of the four foot circle and introduction of the power play. I also really enjoy playing with Ben. I think being siblings means we’re always on the same wavelength and means we can say what we really think without it being a problem!
DW: It’s a very different game and moves very quickly.
AM: For me, the complexity and difficulty of shots.

RGB: Has playing mixed doubles helped your play in the four-person game?
AF: Definitely. Mixed Doubles teaches you to play aggressively, and having only five stones teaches you to plan ahead.
DW: Not really, as it is such a different game.

RGB: How much chance have you had to practise mixed doubles together this season?
AF: Aside from the English championships and Dumfries Mixed Doubles, we also played a practice competition against Irantzu and Gontzal from Spain, Bruce [Mouat] and Gina [Aitken] and Hayley and John Duff from Scotland. There was some really high quality curling played at this event and it was great preparation for Worlds.
DW: Just one practice weekend in Glasgow, no tournaments. We had one planned we had to cancel but with no dedicated facilities to use in Wales (though we are working on a project for a dedicated facility in North Wales which would change this) we need to travel for practice.

RGB: What support (coaching, facilities etc) have you had to get to this point?
AF: The ECA has made a donation to our costs and British Curling kindly arranged the ice for our recent practice competition. We don’t receive any other support or coaching for mixed doubles.
AM: None – it’s all on us.

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The groups at World Mixed Doubles 2016

RGB: Having seen the groups/schedule, what are your goals going into the competition in Karlstad?
AF: We are really pleased with our draw and think that we have a fair chance of reaching the knock out stages and Olympic points. There are some tough teams in our group (notably Japan and Norway), but we know that anything can happen in mixed doubles, so we have to take each game as it comes.
AM: To qualify for the playoffs.

RGB: Does MD coming into the Olympics affect the time/focus you put into it?
AF: Yes, absolutely. No British team has ever medalled at a World Mixed Doubles Championship, so this means there is a big opportunity for us to excel. There are a lot of established and successful British teams at men’s and women’s level, but this is yet to be replicated in mixed doubles. We hope that we can be successful at Worlds to give us a chance of competing at Olympic level.
DW: We would love to put more time and focus into it, but as we have no local facilities to use and we are totally self-funded this is very difficult.
AM: Not really. Realistically we know that Welsh players couldn’t make the GB program as it will be based in Scotland.

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England open up their campaign against Romania at 3pm UK time. On Tuesday, their game against Japan is being shown live online here.

Wale kick off versus Brazil tomorrow at 11am UK time.

You can follow updates from the competition on the Roaring Game Blog Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the week.

World Mixed Doubles: Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat Q&A

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Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat, at the 2015 Scottish Championships in Braehead (photo: Tom J Brydone (facebook.com/brydoneimages))

Scottish mixed doubles champions Gina Aitken and Bruce Mouat are representing their country in Karlstad, Sweden, from April 16-23.

The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship involves 42 teams, split into six groups of seven – with countries as diverse as Lithuania, Qatar and New Zealand.

The Roaring Game Blog (RGB) spoke to Aitken and Mouat before they set off for Sweden to preview the competition.

RGB: When did you first play mixed doubles and how did that come about?
Gina Aitken (GA): The first time was three or four years ago. We saw the Scottish mixed doubles was on, entered for fun and we won! So we kept up with it from there.
Bruce Mouat (BM): December 2012 would’ve been the first together with Gina. It was a new thing for us, but we made the playoffs, got on a good streak and won. I had played before, though, in October that year with another friend.

RGB: What do you enjoy most about the discipline?
GA: The different tactical approach, with fewer stones in play. There are only five shots each end to score, so you’ve got to make them count.
BM: As a skip, figuring out the angles and how aggressive to go. The big runbacks are always fun too!

RGB: Has mixed doubles helped your play in the four-person game?
GA: Yes, you play with a different approach, more aggressive, which gives you a new perspective to take into the four-person game.
BM: Definitely. When I started playing curling I was too aggressive, so it has helped me work on strategy, angles and shot selection with so many options available.

RGB: What support have you had to get to this point?
GA: This year we’ve had my dad [David Aitken] as coach, looking at the different tactics, especially the power play. We discuss the options in games, the key opportunities and how to take advantage of them. It’s a new discipline and so everyone’s still exploring it.
BM: We train together at least once a week, as well as doing individual work on fitness and so on. We’ve had support from British Curling, who’ve set up training for us, and the clubs.

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Aitken and Mouat won the Latvian Mixed Doubles Curling Cup II earlier this month

RGB: How helpful was the Latvian Mixed Doubles in your preparation for Worlds?
GA: It was a good competition so close to Worlds. Mixed doubles is so different [to the four-person game] that it takes a while to get back into it. We were able to try some things out in Latvia and had a great time.
BM: There were a lot of strong teams in Latvia, so it really helped us prepare for Worlds. We saw the tactics adopted by other teams, whether sweeping or aiming at the broom. So we can work on what we want to do and adapt to others’ play.

RGB: What targets have you set for Worlds?
GA: To come top eight. We did that before in Canada [in 2013] and believe we can do that again. Ultimately we want to go as far as we can.
BM: We had a discussion with our coach, Gina’s dad, and we aim to make the playoffs for ranking points. If we do get there, we’ll then be aiming for gold – we want to win this.

RGB: Has mixed doubles’ entry into the Olympics affected the time/focus you give to it?
GA: The Olympics has meant people are paying more attention to it. For me, I’m conscious of the qualification process for GB. We are thinking about it, but it doesn’t affect our play – we’re always going out to do our best.
BM: It definitely gives me another option – I’m open to the different curling formats. Mixed doubles is enjoyable, but I’m always aiming to make the Olympics in the traditional format. But of course I’m not going to turn down a chance to compete in mixed doubles at that level.

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The World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship kicks off on Saturday, with Scotland’s first game against Russia at 11am UK time – you can watch it live via World Curling TV.

There will be updates throughout the tournament on the Roaring Game Blog Facebook and Twitter.