ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND MISS OUT AT PLAY-OFFS AT WORLD CHAMPS
British interest in the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships ended when both England and Scotland lost their matches in the tournament’s last 16.
England’s Anna and Ben Fowler and Scotland’s Gina Aitken and Scott Andrews - all of whom are supported by the British Curling programme - had done enough in reaching the knockout stages to guarantee the involvement of their respective national teams at next year’s World Championships in Canada when a reduced field of 20 will compete for Olympic qualifying points, as well as the world title.
However their defeats in the first of those knockout rounds was an indicator of how tough that competition is likely to be and at the end of his first involvement at a World Championships since switching discipline from the men’s game to mixed doubles, Olympic silver medallist Andrews acknowledged that they had also had a reminder of the need to be sharp from the outset against the better teams after they lost to Estonia for a second time.
The rematch had looked set to provide the perfect opportunity to avenge their only defeat of the group stage, that had resulted in the Scots finishing in third place in their group, forcing them to earn their berth to the next stage on their draw shot rankings. However, Estonia’s Marie Turmann and Harri Lill established an early lead that they never relinquished and eventually claimed an 8-3 victory to progress to the quarter finals.
Andrews said: “It’s disappointing, obviously we had a bad start and we didn’t really get on top of the ice and in the first end they made a great shot for four.
“We had a chance at the second end to get back into the game, but unfortunately when you go five points down against a team like Estonia it is always going to be tough to get back.
“Overall I am proud of our performance this week and I thought we played well, we just didn’t perform today. However I have really enjoyed my first World Mixed Doubles and the change of format next year to 20 teams is definitely going to be a good thing.
“For us it was difficult to have the same intensity of game against the newer teams to the sport, so going forward the format will be more like the World and European men’s events and I think that is a step in the right direction,” Andrews noted.
Gina Aitken added: “Overall it has been a good week, we have learnt a lot together and it is always a shame to lose your first knock out game you get to, but you learn a lot from the games you lose and we will take that forward and continue to get better.”
England’s brother and sister combination Ben and Anna Fowler - who had qualified for the play-offs with a game to spare and would have met their British Curling squad mates in the quarter final had both teams progressed from the first knock out matches - also felt that they had missed out on opportunities, which ultimately saw them lose 4-7 to the USA.
Anna Fowler, the elder of the siblings, said: “I think we were really up for the game and came out to do our absolute best, but in reality we didn’t make enough chances and didn’t really put them under enough pressure at the end of the day, which was really disappointing.”
USA’s Corey Christensen and 2018 men’s Olympic Champion skip John Shuster gained the upper hand claiming a 4-1 lead by the 4th end, and though the Fowlers responded with a two at the next to remain in touch with their rivals, USA’s pairing capitalised when they implemented their powerplay to extend their lead to 7-3. England were unable to close the deficit when they could only claim a single at the seventh and were eventually run out of stones at the eighth end.
Ben Fowler added: “We didn’t quite capitalise when we had control of the ends and that really hurt us towards the end of that game, but we have achieved one of our week’s goals which was to qualify for next year in Kelowna, so it will be good to be in the top 20 for that.”
England’s rivals the USA progressed to the semi finals where they will meet Canada, after they beat Estonia 9-5 in their quarter final. Whilst Sweden will take on Australia in the other semi final, followed by the medal matches tomorrow.
Team Scotland Results 6-1
Scotland v Belgium 14-1
Scotland v Mexico 15-4
Scotland v Lithuania 9-3
Scotland v Slovakia 11-2
Scotland v Germany 8-5
Scotland v Estonia 6-8
Scotland v Norway 7-6 (EE) Q
Scotland v Estonia 3-8
Team England Results (6-1)
England v Qatar 12 -5
England v New Zealand 7-5
England v Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 9-1
England v Ireland 8-2
England v Korea 9-4
England v Kazakhstan 11-5 Q
England v Finland 6-7 (EE)
England v USA 4-7
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Photos: © WCF/ Tom Rowland @WCF/Alina Pavlyuchik