Scotland’s two junior curling teams made it to the finals of the World Junior Curling Championships in Sochi but only the men could go on and claim the gold medal.
Russia were the opponents for both the men and the women and neither had ever reached a world junior final previously. Scotland have and Hannah Fleming’s side were playing in their second consecutive gold medal match. The Russian women were no pushovers, though, and a tense final went down to an extra end.
Fleming and her charges struggled to maintain the form they had exhibited throughout a championship in which they had lost just one match, but they got off to a good start when the skip scored with two stones in the second end. Russia opened their account in the third end and, when the Scots failed a double take-out in the eighth, Russia moved 5-3 ahead for the first time in the match. With Fleming choosing to blank the ninth, they managed to hit two in the final end to level the match and force an extra set of stones. Unfortunately, they placed their two guards too close together, giving the Russians an easy chance to peel round them and grab the decisive point.
Fleming admitted: “We just weren’t firing as well in the final as we have been. But you’ve got to hand it to Russia because they played well. But I’m really disappointed because we just didn’t show up in the final.”
It was much better news later for Kyle Smith’s men as they hammered the Russian men 6-2. Scotland took a lead in the second end when Smith scored with two and it was a lead they never relinquished, reaching the halfway point 4-0 up. The Russians didn’t get onto the scoreboard until the eighth end where they picked up two, but they would score no more. One further point in the ninth end gifted Scotland the 6-2 win.
Following celebrations with Cameron Smith, Kyle Waddell and Thomas Muirhead, Smith said: “I’m speechless! I don’t know what to say. I just feel fantastic. We’ve just had a really good week and a good year. I was a wee bit nervous, but that’s only natural. We just played everything we could, we just didn’t give them much of a chance. They played well but we got our two for the lead and that just settled the nerves a bit, and we just made a lot of shots from there.”
The 2014 World Junior Curling Championships are due to take place next year at the Waldhaus Curling Arena in Flims, Switzerland.