Jen Dodds and Bruce Mouat picked up where they left off last season when they claimed the first mixed doubles title of the season in the British Curling Mixed Doubles Tankard event staged at the National Curling Academy in Stirling.
Their 8-5 defeat of Vicky Wright and Grant Hardie in a final that they took control of in the first half, opening up a 7-1 lead by the fourth of the scheduled eight ends, avenged their only defeat of the round-robin stages and followed a 7-5 semi-final victory over another two of their regular team-mates in women’s and men’s competition, Eve Muirhead and Bobby Lammie.
Reigning Scottish champions Mouat and Dodds had both been denied a chance to compete at two World Championships last season when the Covid pandemic forced the cancellation of the mixed doubles, as well as the men’s and women’s events.
However, five-time mixed doubles and three-time men’s national champion Mouat, has consistently expressed gratitude for the opportunities that elite players have been provided to keep training and playing in events such as this week’s and was delighted to continue in winning ways, his men’s rink having won both events they have played in at the September Shoot-Out and the November Classic.
“We were obviously disappointed to miss out on the Worlds last season. It would have been nice to experience that with Jen,” he said.
“But this felt like a wee bit of redemption for not getting to play that World Championships, because this event was always going to be tough, playing against great opposition.”
While the bulk of their training is with their respective men’s and women’s teams, they have been playing together regularly in British Curling’s mixed doubles league which, played every Friday, brings a different dynamic to training.
“This was a wee bit different,” Dodds observed, however.
“Usually we only play two games on the Friday and then nothing until the following week, whereas we’ve had a succession of three game days this time, so it was a bigger test of your fitness and obviously with Bruce being a skip (in the men’s game) he was sweeping a wee bit more than he normally does, so it tested him in particular.”
Mouat responded to that teasing in good-natured fashion, acknowledging that the workload is different to that normally undertaken by those calling the shots, resulting in a badly blistered hand.
“My hands are maybe a bit fragile, maybe a bit dainty, a bit cute, so I’ll have to toughen them up a bit,” he laughed.
He noted, though, that he does have vast experience so knew what to expect.
“I’ve obviously played mixed doubles a lot, so I realise what sweeping does to your body and the toll it takes, but it’s good to know that I’m able to get stones in positions that I want them in when I’m sweeping. As much as it’s never going to be the best it could be, because I’m always trying to get better, right now it feels pretty good.”
Their target as a partnership is to make that belated World Championship appearance this season and getting the better of their leading domestic rivals was a major step in that direction.
“I feel like we’re in a good position,” said Dodds.
“We learned a lot even from the Scottish last year and I think we’ve taken that forward into this year, so I think we’re in a good place just now and in control of our tactics and our technical side.”
While he has played in four previous World Mixed Doubles Championships, Mouat pointed out that much has changed since he last did so three seasons ago.
“It’ll be a bit different to what I experienced, because there aren’t as many teams any more and it’s groups of 10, rather than seven or whatever it was,” he explained.
“So, it’ll be more games in a shorter space of time as well which could be quite tough for whoever goes and even if we practise as much as possible I don’t think it’s just going to be the same as when you get there. Events like this will really help us to prepare for a World Championship.”
That remains a medium term goal, whereas their immediate focus is on facing one another with Team Mouat facing Dodds and her Team Muirhead colleagues in the opening match, as another change of dynamics is added to this week’s event with British Curling’s men’s and women’s teams facing one another in the December Superspiel which will continue through to the weekend.
“I think the game tomorrow morning will be entertaining since we’ve been playing together for the last three days, so it’ll be good to get to back into teams and even though we’re team-mates just now there’s a lot of rivalry when we get back in our teams,” said Dodds.
The December Superspiel matches start at 9.00am Thursday 17 December and regular updates on the event’s broadcast schedule will be available from British Curling’s Facebook and Twitter channels and to watch live streamed games from the event throughout the week please visit:www.youtube.com/c/britishcurling
MIXED DOUBLES RESULTS:
Monday 14 December
McMillan/Ryder v Gray/Waddell – 5-11
Duff/Whyte v Wright/Hardie – 9-8
Wilson/Brydone v Sinclair/Menzies – 8-5
Aitken/Paterson v Davis/Kyle 8-4
Sinclair/Menzies v Morrison/McMillan 6-5
Dodds/Mouat v McMillan/Ryder 12-1
Muirhead/Lammie v Davis/Kyle 8-2
Smith/Goodfellow v Wright/Hardie 5-8
Wilson/Brydone v Aitken/Paterson 6-7 (EE)
Gray/Waddell v Duff/Whyte* 7-6 (EE)
Dodds/ Mouat v Smith/Goodfellow 6-5
Davis/Kyle v Sinclair/Menzies 7-6
Wright/Hardie v McMillan/Ryder 9-2
*Morrison/McMillan v Muirhead/Lammie 5-7
Tuesday 15 December
Muirhead/Lammie v Wilson/Brydone 7-5
Smith/Goodfellow v Gray/Waddell 7-6
Aitken/Paterson v Morrison/McMillan 6-4
Duff/Whyte v Dodds/Mouat 3-10
Morrison/McMillan v Davis/Kyle 6-9
Wright/Hardie v Dodds/Mouat 7-6
Sinclair/Menzies v Muirhead/Lammie 3-8
McMillan/Ryder v Smith/Goodfellow 7-8
Gray/Waddell v Wright/Hardie 8-9
McMillan/Ryder v Duff/Whyte 2-8
Davis/Kyle v Wilson/Brydone 9-5
Sinclair/Menzies v Aitken/Paterson 4-7
Smith/Goodfellow v Duff/Whyte 6-5
Aitken/Paterson v Muirhead/Lammie 3-9
Dodds/Mouat v Gray/Waddell 6-5
Wilson/Brydone v Morrison/McMillan 2-7
Wednesday 16 December
Draw 9 – Play-offs
Aitken/Paterson v Smith/Goodfellow 5-7
Dodds/Mouat v Davis/Kyle 10-4
Semi Final Results - Draw 10
Muirhead/Lammie v Dodds/Mouat 5-7
Wright/Hardie v Smith/Goodfellow 7-5
Dodds/Mouat v Wright/Hardie 8-5
The event and new guidelines:
- The return to training and the internal competition at the NCA follows approval from the Scottish Government /sportscotland and includes specific protocols such as daily medical monitoring for all athletes and staff, venue specific changes, cleaning and sanitising routines.
- British curling notes the latest restrictions introduced as a result of COVID and has ensured that the approach to the internal competition and ongoing training thereafter complies fully and athletes and staff have been fully briefed on the latest guidance and their responsibilities as a result.