Week 9 has come to a close. Not nearly as busy as week 8 was, but no less important. While teams in Canada were chasing CTRS points, teams in Europe were battling for the right to represent their country at the European Curling Championships in Denmark next month. Although these playdowns were not WCT events, and neither is the European Curling Championship, they are no less significant. For starters though, let’s take a listen to my preview and predictions for this past week.
Now, let’s take a look at the results.
Congratulations to Team Paetz on winning the Swiss Playdowns for the European Curling Championships! They defeated reigning European champions Team Feltscher to earn the right to represent Switzerland next month. Team Tirinzoni was also in the competition, but lost a tiebreaker to Team Feltscher and ended up in third place. As the reigning World Champions, Team Paetz will have the opportunity to follow in Team Feltscher’s footsteps of claiming the World & European Championships in the same calendar year. I didn’t predict a winner for this event, as I thought each team was capable of winning and honestly couldn’t predict who would come out on top. There is no doubting the level of talent when it comes to women’s curling in Switzerland, giving them a depth that is second only to Canada.
Congratulations to Team Muirhead & Team Smith, winners of the Scottish Playdowns for the European Curling Championships! Team Muirhead was dominant throughout and went undefeated, defeating Team Gray in the final. Team Fleming came in third, losing a tiebreaker game to Team Gray for second place. Unfortunately, Sarah Reid was still sidelined with injury (speedy recovery Sarah!), so Rachel Hannen stepped in as lead (and did quite well from what could be seen). As for Team Smith, they bounced back from an 0-2 start to win 6 straight and ultimately top Team Brewster in the playoffs. It was brother versus brother at 3rd, as Eve’s older brother Glen plays vice for Brewster while her younger brother Thomas plays vice for Smith. Considering that their father Gordon is an accomplished champion curler himself (and skipped the Scottish men’s team in the Senior World Championships in Russia this past spring) I think it’s safe to say that curling runs in the blood of the Muirhead family.
As I predicted, Team Muirhead came out on top for the women. Team Fleming may not have qualified, but they are still having a pretty good season and I would definitely keep my eye on them. While I did not predict a winner for the men, I did say that anything could happen and it most certainly did. I think it’s safe to say that Team Smith were the underdogs in this event, going up against the likes of Team Murdoch, Team Brewster, and Team MacDonald. Many were expecting a Murdoch vs Brewster final, however Team Murdoch and Team MacDonald both failed to qualify. Team Smith is a young rink, but they have talent and already have some world-class experience under their belt. I’ve said it before that they are a team to keep your eye on, and more and more it’s looking like this is going to be a breakout year for them.
Congratulations to Team Sidorova, winners of the Russian Playdowns! They went one on one against Team Moiseeva and won four straight in a best-of-seven series. Unlike Switzerland and Scotland though, this event determined who would represent Russia at both the European & World Championships. This is a change from previous years, as in the past a second event was held to qualify for Worlds.
I predicted that Team Sidorova would win this event. They were dominant throughout, with only the first game going a full ten ends. Team Moiseeva does has talent, and they are getting better though. Russia is serious about developing depth, and from what I can see things are moving along nicely. It does take time though, and I think it will be quite some time before we see a women’s team in Russia that can challenge Team Sidorova.
Congratulations to Team Laycock, winners of the 2015 Canad Inns Men’s Classic! They were on fire this whole event, going undefeated in the round robin to qualify via the A road over Team McEwen. They then defeated Team Carruthers in the quarterfinal, Team Thomas in the semifinal, and ultimately triumphed 8-5 over Team Koe in the final. This was their first final appearance and win of the year, although they have made the semifinal in several events this year so far. Definitely a great start to the season for them. The same is true for Team Koe, who won their last two events and qualified in their first.
As for my predictions, I went 5/8 on qualifiers. Team Edin, Team Howard, and Team McEwen all failed to qualify, while Team Hartung, Team Morozumi, and Team Thomas all made it into the playoffs. For the final game, I was 0/2 as I had Team Jacobs facing off against Team McEwen, and for the winner overall I was 0/1 as I had Team McEwen winning the event. Edin, Howard, and especially McEwen were all favorites, with Howard and McEwen falling to Morozumi and Bottcher on Sunday afternoon, while Edin was eliminated by Hartung in the C Qualifier game Sunday evening. Upsets do happen though, and there were several last weekend at the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard as well, not to mention the teams that unexpectedly found themselves playing through the C road to qualify at that event. For Edin, this is the second time this year they failed to qualify at an event (the first being the GSOC Tour Challenge), while for Howard and McEwen it marks their first times. No doubt these teams will shake this weekend off and bounce back at their next events though.
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