Murrayfield curler Bruce Mouat had to dig deep for a thrilling triumph at the World Junior Championships in Copenhagen, where he overcame two early losses and an illness to team-mate Bobby Lammie to clinch gold in last Sunday’s final.
Mouat’s quest to upgrade his bronze medal from Tallinn last year began with an opening round robin victory over Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell, but he then crossed swords with his eventual final opponent, US skip Kory Dropkin, and it was first blood to the American who won 7-6 at the first extra end.
“We had a really good start and went 4-1 up, but we didn’t play at all well in the second five ends,” recalled Mouat.
Canadian Matt Dunstone looked set to hand the Napier student another defeat when he led Mouat 7-4, but a dramatic late turnaround saw the Scot win 10-7.
“That was a really close game and a big one to win,” admitted Mouat. “We wanted to take a two at the ninth end, but we managed to take three to make it 7-7. We put a lot of pressure on them in the tenth end, and he missed his last shot.”
2015 runner-up Yannick Schwaller from Switzerland then thumped Mouat 10-4, although there was a good reason for the lopsided result. “Bobby was ill that morning, so he couldn’t sweep and didn’t play the full game,” revealed Mouat. “We played okay, but Yannick played a really good shot to get a four and go 5-1 up. We had to pull our socks up and Bobby was still ill, so we brought in Robin (Brydone).”
Seven wins from nine games placed the Scots second to Dropkin in the final round robin standings and crucially qualified them for the 1v2 play-off, the winners of which went directly through to the final.
“That’s an extra advantage,” agreed Mouat. “We knew we could get the better of the Americans if we played our game. It felt like a really long match and every end was very intense. It was probably one of the best-quality games I’ve ever played in, and after I made the winning shot, that was the biggest reaction to a shot that I’ve ever had.”
Already through to Sunday’s final, Mouat spent the rest of Saturday waiting to hear if Schwaller or Dropkin would join him there.
“I had to go back to the rink for a meeting about the final, so I saw USA v Switzerland, but we put Bobby to bed because he still felt ill, and the other guys watched the movie ‘8 Miles’,” explained Mouat. “I didn’t have a preference who I met in the final. Schwaller had been there before, but I’d played him more often than Dropkin and knew his game better, so there were advantages and disadvantages.”
Dropkin’s victory set up a third Scotland-USA clash, but this time Mouat was in no mood for another nail-biting finish: “We had the honour (the last stone), so we could dictate things in the first few ends. We went 2-0 up, which helped, and then led 4-1, which was a dream situation. We tried to manage the scoreboard for the rest of the match and knew we needed to score in the ninth end, which we did, to go three-up with one end left to play.
“I knew we’d won when my last stone was halfway down the ice. It was a very strange experience and I can’t remember how I felt. I actually fell on my backside!
“I was really happy for the guys (Angus Dowell, Gregor Cannon, Bobby Lammie and Robin Brydone) and the coaches and the physio because they put so much work into this season. I got them all to sign my Scotland top, and I’ll give it to my dad for Fathers Day.”
Mouat’s marathon season is not yet over, though. He and club-mate Gina Aitken can complete a golden double at next month’s World Mixed Doubles Championship in Sweden, then Mouat will fly straight to Canada for the Champions Cup in Alberta.