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.