TEAM SMITH REACH QUARTER FINAL IN FIRST CAMPAIGN OF 2018
In the first outing of the year that will see them become Olympians Team Smith reached the quarter-finals of the Mercure City of Perth Masters on their home ice at the Dewar’s Centre.
Skip Kyle Smith, his younger brother Cammy, Kyle Waddell and Thomas Muirhead had battled hard to get to the knockout stages after a couple of early setbacks in the qualifying rounds. However a 6-3 defeat, their second of the weekend to Team De Cruz - whom they will face again at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang next month, ended their campaign - the Swiss quartet gaining some consolation for having lost out to the Scots in the semi-finals of the recent European Championships where they had home advantage.
Team Smith Coach Viktor Kjell said: “I am pleased with the team’s performance, even though we would have hoped to get past the quarter final stage. It was good to get quality games on great ice conditions. This puts us in a good place moving forward over the next few weeks leading in to February and I am looking forward to our final preparations for South Korea”.
Smith’s fellow Scots Team Bryce also made it to the knock-out stages of the tournament but they lost their quarter final 5-3 to another Olympic team, Thomas Ulsrud’s Norwegian former world champions.
Smith and Bryce were the last of the British Curling teams in the tournament, both making solid starts to 2018, however those results brought to an end hopes of the Perth Masters trophy remaining in Scotland.
Team Brewster’s title defence came to an end when his new line-up, which includes Sochi Olympic team-mate Scott Andrews, lost 8-3 to Ulsrud in the last qualifying round and two more of Team GB’s silver medallists from the last Winter Olympics, Greg Drummond and Michael Goodfellow also had a good run in the tournament before Team Drummond was beaten 4-2 by the lone Canadian representatives Team Simmons.
Grand Slam winners Team Mouat were the first British Curling team to exit the main tournament but finished on a win in the ‘lucky losers’ final when they beat Team Hare 4-1.
All seven Olympic teams in the field were still in contention by the last round of the qualifying competition, with three of the rinks that are heading to PyeongChang next month - Team De Cruz, Team Ulsrud and Team Edin - making it to the semi finals, along with Germany’s Team Baumann. However it was the European Champions Team Edin who lifted the title for their first time when they beat Team Ulsrud in the semi final 7-2 and Team De Cruz 7-4 in the final.
Skip Niklas Edin said after winning the Perth Masters: “We’ve always come in as one of the favourites then under-performed. This time we got the most out of every game because our form hasn’t peaked yet, so we know we’ve got a few weeks left until we should play at our best. Still winning shows a lot of strength to the other teams and to ourselves too. If we can build up from here and defend those leads a little bit better, we will be really strong for the Olympics.”
Commenting on Team Smith’s prospects at the Olympics, Edin added: “We’re always having close games against Team Smith and especially last year they really showed what they can do. This year they’ve focused a little bit differently on the season. It’s more about the Olympics and peaking at the right time.”
European silver medallists Team Smith, and Teams Bryce, Brewster, Drummond and Mouat will now prepare for the German Masters in Hamburg which starts on 18 January, the last competitive outing for Smith’s men ahead of their debut at the Winter Olympics.
Please click here to access the Perth Masters results and information and the event programme.
NIKLAS EDIN PHOTO: WCF / Celine Stucki.
BRITISH CURLING PHOTOS: copyright Alan Peebles Photography.