BRITISH TEAMS MIX WITH BEST IN FIRST NEW YEAR OUTING
Olympic silver medallist Scott Andrews returns to competitive action as all three British Curling Mixed Doubles teams get their first campaign of the year underway at the Qualico Mixed Doubles Championships in Banff (3-6 January).
Andrews watched from the coaching bench while recovering from injury, as his partner Gina Aitken - who had teamed up with emergency replacement Duncan Menzies fresh from his men’s team’s Boost National Grand Slam win – secured the Scottish Mixed Doubles Championships at the end of last month.
After switching to the Mixed Doubles discipline at the start of the season and enjoying early success with Aitken, winning the Sochi Mixed Doubles title at the venue where he achieved the high point of his career to date in the 2014 Winter Olympic final, Andrews is understandably eager to rejoin his partner on ice.
“We are looking forward to our first competition in 2019. We have had a great start to the season and have overcome the hurdle of my injury,” said Andrews.
“Finishing the year winning the Scottish Championship has given us great confidence and we are hoping to bring that into this competition where we will face some of Canada’s best.
“I am looking forward to getting back on the ice competing. We will just have to wait and see how much sweeping I can do. We will monitor it game by game. It is important that we don’t take any steps back with the injury.”
Aitken, who claimed her fifth Scottish Mixed Doubles title when winning the tournament in Braehead in December said: “We are delighted to be here in Banff and Canmore to play our first tournament of the year. It's an absolutely stunning place to start 2019!
“The field here is great and are really looking forward to getting back into our groove as a team after the challenges we faced at the end of last year.”
Fraser Kingan and Jayne Stirling who enjoyed an unbeaten run in their title defence until the final at the Scottish Championships are keen to make their mark in 2019 and are looking forward to facing Olympic Champions Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris in their group.
“We’re hoping to hit the ground running in 2019 at what is shaping up to be an amazing event, “said Stirling.
“The opportunity to compete against some of Canada’s biggest names in a totally unique event is amazing. With Olympic gold medallists in our group we’re going to need to bring our A game, but we’ve been training hard at the National Curling Academy (NCA) to ensure we’re best prepared.”
Meanwhile brother and sister combination, Ben and Anna Fowler are in a group with Sochi Olympic champion Jennifer Jones and her husband and three time world champion, Brett Laing and they know this event represents the best preparation for their forthcoming national championships.
"We're very excited to have the opportunity to play at the Qualico Mixed Doubles event this week, among an extremely esteemed field of curlers. We'll be looking to build on our recent silver medal finish at Pinerolo and put all of our hard work at the NCA into practice.
“This will be our last competition before the English National Championships which start on 17th January. We couldn't ask for better preparation going into this important competition where we'll fight for the right to represent England in Stavanger, Norway at the World Mixed Doubles Championships."
British Curling Mixed Doubles Teams:
Photos: (Top) Perthshire Picture Agency - Graeme Hart, Neil Kerr and below WCF/Richard Gray.