May 31, 2007

Who will be Scotland's representatives at the European Championships?

Four men's teams will contest the right to be Scotland's representative at the European Championship 2007 in Fussen, Germany, in early December. According to the rule book the top three teams in last year's Bruadar Scottish Championship should play a double round robin to find the winner. These were Warwick Smith (with Craig Wilson, David Smith and Ross Hepburn); Tom Brewster with Hammy McMillan, Ron Brewster and Colin Campbell; and Gordon Muirhead (with Duncan Fernie, who plays last stones, Graeme Prentice and Richard Woods). The rules allow a wild card entry, and it can be no surprise that those who make such decisions have included David Murdoch's side (Ewan MacDonald, Peter Smith and Euan Byers) in the lineup. The RCCC Rule Book says: The top three teams from the previous season’s Scottish Championships shall qualify to play in the European Playdowns excepting in a Winter Olympic Games season these play-offs may not take place. The National Coach, along with an R.C.C.C. Committee, may select a fourth team if they feel it would be beneficial to do so. The qualified teams must have at least three members from last season’s Scottish Championship team and have signed the Players International Participation Agreement to be eligible to play.

The women's event is a two horse race. Kelly Wood (with Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood), winners of the Scottish Championship and bronze medallists at WWCC07 in Aomori, will match up against Edith Loudon (with Mairi Milne, Judith Marshall and Katie Loudon) who were the beaten semifinalists in the Columba Cream Gold League finals. The two teams will play best of five to find the one to don Scottish jerseys in Fussen. What of the beaten finalists? With Rhona Martin and Debbie Knox now retired, Claire Milne and Lynn Cameron have teamed up with Jaqui Byers and Rachael Simms for the new season, but according to the rules (above) this team are not eligible to compete in the Euro playdown, having only two of last year's side.

The draw for the European Qualifying Competition at the Dewars Rinks, Perth, October 26-28, can be found here.

Photo of Edith Loudon is from last season's Gold League weekend at Aberdeen.

May 30, 2007

Scottishcurlingforum now online

RCCC Area Development Officer Jim Morrison has set up a discussion group for Scottish curlers to interact and share views. will provide an opportunity for curlers to say what they think about the sport in Scotland. Recognising the constant criticism that there is of a lack of communication between the grass roots and the governing body, Jim says, "I thought this might help plug that gap, and give us (the Area Curling Development Officers) feedback on what's going on and what's not, and what's actually concerning Scottish curlers."

Best wishes to Jim and his team for this new venture. Hopefully Scottish curlers of all ages and opinions will embrace it positively...... and constructively.

The new discussion group is similar to that begun recently by English curlers and running successfully at Of course the daddy of all curling discussion groups is at, although this is of most interest to those who follow what's happening in the sport in Canada.

Photo is Lanarkshire ACDO Jim Morrison.

May 29, 2007

Open invitation to all registered curlers to attend Royal Club AGM

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club has, for the first time, issued an open invitation to all curlers to attend the Annual General Meeting, to be held at Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, on June 16. Usually only the representatives of registered clubs attend the AGM. Scotland has some 600 clubs, and less than a third of these bother to send representatives to the Annual Meeting each year. This year the Board has invited all 14,500 registered curlers "to come along and hear how we have done over the past year."

This move reflects the Royal Club's intentions to interact more with club curlers. More communication has been the cry by many in recent years.

The whole issue of how Scotland's curlers should be represented on the sport's governing body is currently under discussion. At present each club has a vote, regardless of whether that club has ten members or a hundred. Is it time to move to 'one curler, one vote'? I wonder. It will be interesting to see how many individual curlers are interested enough in how the sport is governed to attend the AGM next month.

Two seminars are planned for the morning of AGM day. The first of these sees the launch of a Club Development Manual. At the second seminar details of new coaching qualifications and courses will be revealed.

Talking of voting, the elections for the two vacancies for Elected Directors on the Board have been ongoing for the past couple of months. Clubs have until May 31 (Thursday) to vote.

The three candidates are Irene Hird (Dollar Ladies), Lockhart Steele (Lesmahagow), William Nicoll (Bank of Scotland - Fife)

May 27, 2007

Invitations go out for European Seniors Invitation at Greenacres

Curling Today has already flagged up the intention to host a European Seniors Invitation at the Greenacres rink in Renfrewshire early next season. Things have moved on apace. The dates have been confirmed - October 10-13, NOT the later dates as we posted.

Greenacres has successfully hosted the Scottish Senior Championships for a number of years, and in 2005 was the venue for the World Seniors Championships. Legacy funding from that event and the WWCC2005 is underwriting some of the costs of staging this European Seniors Invitation for the first time. Malcolm Richardson, the European Curling Federation President, is heading up the organisation.

The plans are for eighteen men's and eighteen women's teams to compete in two separate events. The entry fee per team will be £50.00 and for that you will be guaranteed at least five games, play being in three groups of six.

Accommodation has been arranged at a maximum cost of £35.00 for bed and breakfast for a room with two sharing. A banquet will be held on Saturday 13. Transport has been arranged from the airport to hotels, and from hotels to the rink.

Invitations will go to the twelve men's and women's teams who competed at the Scottish Senior finals this year with a guarantee of a place for the first eight applications. It is hoped that the remaining places will be taken up by European teams. An invitation has been sent to all European Federation member nations to send a team to the event. Malcolm Richardson says, "Seniors curling is on a threshhold and we hope this tournament could a stepping stone to further events."

Put another way, if these events at Greenacres prove to be a success, there will be good reason to push for the staging of European Seniors' Championships! For more information see the ECF website.
The photo is from the World Seniors at Greenacres in 2005. Ingrid Meldahl's Swedish women won the World title that year.

May 25, 2007

I can do that

Some of you may already have seen the sketch on the Catherine Tait show which featured our sport, and starred Rhona Martin. It was filmed at Fenton's Rink in Kent. If you didn't, you can watch it here now that the clip has been put up on YouTube.

Thanks to George Karrys for flagging this up on The Curling News blog, and for his support for our first faltering steps with Curling Today. George is of course the Editor of The Curling News, which has been around almost as long as the Scottish Curler, not to mention his key role as the World Curling Federation's media officer.

Actually, talking of YouTube, you can easily spend a happy few minutes/hours browsing the curling offerings. If you do, make sure you don't miss the compilation from the World Juniors in Eveleth, if only for the shots of the Scottish girls warming up! And what about Russian Street Curling?

May 23, 2007

Le Gruyère AOC renews European curling sponsorship

The Scottish Curler team has become rather partial to Le Gruyère cheese (for evidence see below). So we were more than pleased to learn today that the World Curling Federation has announced that Le Gruyère AOC has renewed its title sponsorship of the European Curling Championships. The two-year agreement confirms that the 2007 and 2008 events will continue as the Le Gruyère European Curling Championships.

"We are delighted to have Le Gruyère AOC continue its strong partnership with the world's fastest-growing winter sport," said WCF President Les Harrison. "The Le Gruyère European Championships are a highlight of Europe's sporting calendar."

"This is a great day for curling," said Malcolm Richardson, President of the European Curling Federation (ECF). "We have seen the men's and women's Le Gruyère European Championships grow with astonishing speed, with upwards of 30 countries participating in what is now two pools of competition. The partnership of Le Gruyère and this critical championship also grows in strength each year, and we are most pleased with this announcement."

The 2007 Le Gruyère European Championships take place from December 1-8 in Füssen, Germany, with the 2008 event scheduled for December 6-13 in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

The 2009 championships are scheduled for Aberdeen. The title sponsorship then has not been announced, today's news only covering the next two championships.

Andy Kapp, 2007 silver medallist at last March's Ford World Curling Championship in Edmonton, will serve double-duty in Füssen. Kapp is the vice-chair of the organizing committee and will also represent Germany on the ice during the men's side of the Championship.

"We are pleased to renew our association with this great sport and these great Championships," said Pierre Dubois, President of Le Gruyère AOC. "As curling athletes strive for Olympic and World Championship success it is our pleasure to support their efforts, and accompany them on their road to victory."

Le Gruyère AOC is a hard cheese produced in the Western part of Switzerland, with a characteristic taste obtained from the best quality of "not pasteurized" milk, coming straight from cows fed on grass. Depending on the age of the cheese (maturation of five to 18 months) it has more or less character. Le Gruyère AOC has won numerous global awards for its product including World Champion of "all Categories" at the World Cheese Awards in London in 1992, 2002, 2005 and most recently in March of 2007. The website is here.

Photo of John Brown at Basel in 2006 is by Alan Stanfield. Could this be the first caption competition to run on Curling Today?

Future of the Scotcurl Coaches Association

The Scotcurl Coaches Association was set up to assist coaching at all levels and to facilitate communication with those involved on the ice and those at Cairnie House, the headquarters of the Royal Club. I think it is fair to say that four years ago, there was a feeling that the sport's governing body was not doing enough to support coaching. Much has changed since then.

There is now a National Coaching Officer, Lynne Robertson, and she has been working towards the setting up of a 'coaching committee' within the structure of the RCCC. There already are standing committees for Club and Member Development, Competitions and Events, Performance, Umpiring, and Marketing, Sponsorship and Communications.

The annual general meeting of the SCA was held on May 15. The RCCC proposal to form a standing committee with direct responsibility for coaching was discussed. The remit of this committee would be:

(1) Delivery and monitoring relevant parts of RCCC Annual operation plan
(2) Development of the Long Term Player Development Plan
(3) Recommending policies and programmes, that relate to coaching, to the board
(4) Assist in the organisation and delivery of RCCC Coach Education programme, providing a professional standard of development
(5) Set up sub groups to identify experience and knowledge required for projects
(6) Information gathering for identified projects
(7) Provide a focal point for clubs, teams and individuals to obtain information regarding coaching
(8) Provide information, support and advice to individual coaches
(9) Liaise with Performance Committee, Membership & Club Development Committee and Local Area Coaching Group Reps.

The Coaching Committee would comprise the following members: Convenor – Board Decision; National Coaching Officer – Lynne Robertson; Area Standing Committee member – Board Decision; Ladies Standing Committee member; X4 Coach rep (development level); X2 Coach rep (performance level); X1 Coach rep (disability); Lead Child Protection Officer.

The Coaching Committee would meet approximately six times per year.

The Royal Club proposal to form a standing committee with direct responsibility for coaching was accepted unanimously by members present at the AGM. The majority of SCA members were of the opinion that as the remit for this new committee and the aims and objectives of the SCA were similar, the association should be dissolved.

The final decision has to be made at a Special General Meeting, which has been called for June 16. There will be one item on the agenda, 'Should the Scotcurl Coaches Association be dissolved?'

If, as expected, members decide to wind up the SCA, a new future beckons for coaching in Scotland after June 16.

Photo is that of National Coaching Officer Lynne Robertson at Cairnie House.

May 22, 2007

Development Manager vacancy

Scottish Curling's governing body, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, is advertising for a new Development Manager. This is the post currently held by Gordie Kennedy who announced his decision to move on recently (see here).

According to the advert, the Royal Club "is looking for an experienced, self motivated person to lead and effectively manage and implement plans for the development of curling throughout Scotland. The candidate should have proven background in delivering projects in demanding timescales. This post will require the management of resources (human and financial) and experience of developing and managing partnerships as well as undertaking specific development projects."

Salary is in the range £21,000-£26,000. For more details of the job and to download an application form, look up the RCCC website. Closing date for applications is June 8.

May 19, 2007

Margaret Withycombe and Anne Airey win Ice Diamonds Award at RCCC Gala Dinner

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Gala Curling Awards dinner was held May 18 at the Hilton Hotel, Edinburgh Airport.

Margaret Withycombe and Anne Airey, who headed the team which organised the successful world wheelchair qualifying competition at Braehead last year, were the inaugural winners of the Ice Diamonds Award, the volunteer award, which was sponsored by the Scottish Curler. The photo above, by Hugh Stewart, shows Scottish Curler depute editor Christine Stewart (centre) with Anne (left) and Margaret (right).

The Team of the Year, sponsored by Star Refrigeration, was Sarah Reid's World Junior Champions: Sarah Reid, Eve Muirhead, Barbara McFarlane, Sarah Macintyre and Alison Black (see photo below). Eve was also recognised as the Young Curler of the Year, that award sponsored by McMillan Hotels.

Elite Coach of the Year (sponsored by sportscotland) was Sheila Swan, and Coach of the Year (sponsored by Curling Supplies) was Judith McFarlane.

Iain Baxter of Murrayfield was Ice Rink Manager of the Year, that award sponsored by Christiansen Management. The two Ice Maker of the Year awards, sponsored by Kays of Scotland, went to Alan Grant of Braehead and Paul Martin of the Dewars Rinks, Perth.

Curling Journalist of the Year (sponsored by Ferguson Oliver) was Robin Wilson.

Congratulations to all.

Hugh Stewart's photo (below) shows (L-R) Alison Black, Sarah Macintyre, Sarah Reid, Eve Muirhead and Barbara McFarlane with the World Junior Championship trophy.

May 18, 2007

Honour for Sarah

Sarah Macintyre, lead of the World Junior Champion side, has been honoured in her home rink at Inverness. Area 10 representative Innes Rankin presented Sarah with an engraved gold bracelet to mark her special year. The full story appeared in the Ross-shire Journal here.

The Inverness rink has received a £10,000 award from the 'Awards for All' programme. This will benefit the work of the Moray and Highland Junior Curling Development Group.

May 17, 2007

Glynhill Hotel to sponsor new women's international invitation at Braehead

The Glynhill Hotel in Renfrew has become the title sponsor of the new international women's event at Braehead, scheduled for January 17-20, 2008. Prize money for the event (£8,000) now meets the threshhold for the competition to be included in the World Curling Tour-Europe calendar of events. The event is also supported by the legacy funding from the financially successful World Women's Championship at Paisley's Lagoon Centre in 2005.

Competition organiser Judith McFarlane is hopeful that the top women's teams in the world will come to the Braehead rink. Invitations, signed by Olympic Gold Medallist Rhona Martin, have now been sent out. Scotland's teams at the event will be those supported by the Scottish Institute of Sport, yet to be officially announced for this season.

The Braehead rink has a great record in running successful events, including the World Seniors in 2000 and the World Wheelchair Championships in 2005. The eight sheet complex is an ideal venue for the Glynhill Ladies Invitation, and it is hoped that after the inaugural competition the event will become a fixture in the women's competitive calendar. Scotland currently has only one WCT event, the Perth Masters, which is men only.

The photo below is of Scotland's Karen Addison competing in the Braehead Open last season.

May 16, 2007

Olympic Dryburghs to be honoured in Aviemore

Around half of the £40,000 needed for a monument honouring Badenoch and Strathspey athletes who have competed in the Olympics has been raised, according to the Strathspey Herald. If fundraising is successful then the monument will be unveiled later this year in the centre of Aviemore.

The area boasts a higher percentage of home-grown Olympians per head of population than any other part of Britain. Fourteen have represented their country at the Games over the years. These include brothers Douglas and James Dryburgh who represented GB at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. The other names which will be inscribed on a bronze plaque on the monument are Ian Finlayson (skiing), Peter Fuchs (skiing), Roddy Langmuir (skiing), Sean Langmuir (skiing), Ewan MacKenzie (Nordic skiing), Louise MacKenzie (Nordic skiing), Ingrid Grant (skiing), Alain Baxter (skiing), Andrew Freshwater (skiing), Craig MacLean (cycling), Noel Baxter (skiing), and Lesley McKenna (snowboarding).

Somewhat ironically, James Dryburgh (shown above in Hugh Stewart's photo from the Worlds in Edmonton) now competes for Sweden. Playing third for Peja Lindholm, Dryburgh and his teammates defeated Scotland in the round robin. Afterwards he was quoted in the official WCF press release as saying, "I'm Swedish, and that's the end of it. I'm married to a Swedish girl, I'm living there for the rest of my life, I speak Swedish and I'm never going back to Scotland. There comes a time when you make life decisions like that, and I've made mine."

A sculpture, featuring three bronze statues representing the Olympic ideals of 'Faster, Higher, Stronger', will be topped by a torch bearing the Olympic flame, with the five Olympic rings marked out by stones in front. The base will be a block of granite.

Donations can still be sent to The Secretary, ACE (Olympian Fund) Account, 12 Morlich Place, Aviemore PH22 1TH. All donations will be acknowledged and donors will be invited to the unveiling ceremony.

May 15, 2007

Did you hear her?

Scottish Champion Kelly Wood was the guest presenter on the John Beattie Sports Weekly programme on Radio Scotland last Saturday. You can listen to it again here, until May 19.

Kelly was a star - she came over so naturally, and seemed so much at ease behind the microphone. The programme's audience is in the hundreds of thousands. If she was nervous, she didn't show it!

Could this be a new career for the World Bronze Medallist?

May 13, 2007

New skips on the block

Who's going to be playing with who next season? Let's look at the Juniors first of all. World Junior Champion third player Eve Muirhead (photo above) will skip her own team with Kerry Barr at third, Vicki Adams at second, and Eveleth teammate Sarah Macintyre at lead.

Anna Sloan, Lauren Gray, Rhiann MacLeod and Caitlin Barr were Scottish Junior semifinalists last season and will stay together. Claire Hamilton, Claire MacDonald, Linsey Spence and Jennifer Priestley are another confirmed lineup, Kerry Barr's front end joining forces with the two Claires.

In Junior men's, Jamie Dick, Andrew Williamson, Colin Dick and Andrew Noble stay together, as do Greg Drummond, James Dunn, Tom Pendreigh and Kerr Drummond.

Scottish Junior Champion Glen Muirhead takes the head with Scott MacLeod, Scott Andrews and former teammate Gordon McDougall at lead.

Teams for the Gold League include the Scottish Champions - Kelly Wood, Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood. With Rhona Martin having announced her retirement, Claire Milne will skip a new team with Lynn Cameron as third, Jacqui Byers at second and Rachael Simms as lead. Edith Loudon will be back with the same lineup as before, Mairi Milne, Judith Marshall and Katie Loudon.

Too old now for the Juniors, World Junior Champion skip Sarah Reid has teamed up with Jennifer Morrison at third, Alison Black (Jennifer's number three in the juniors last season and fifth player for Sarah at Eveleth) at second and Barbara McFarlane (who played two at the Worlds) at lead.

The Men's teams for next season have a familiar feel:
David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Peter Smith and Euan Byers
Warwick Smith, Craig Wilson, David Smith and Ross Hepburn
Tom Brewster, Hammy McMillan, Ron Brewster and Colin Campbell
Duncan Fernie, Gordon Muirhead, Graeme Prentice and Richard Woods
Alan Smith, Ross MacDonald, Neil MacArthur and Sandy Reid

Now too old for Juniors, Scottish Junior Champs Logan Gray and Alasdair Guthrie have teamed up again with Ross Paterson at second and Keith Duncan Millar at lead for the season.

With a new 'National Academy' setup in place at the Royal Club and the Scottish Institute of Sport continuing to support several of the top teams, funding and support issues are complicated. More on this next week as I get my own head around it all, plus other team lineups as Curling Today hears!

May 10, 2007

The Front Line

So, who are these people and why are they important in Scottish curling? In front is Gordie Kennedy, the Royal Club's Development Manager. The others are (L-R) Marion Murdoch (Coach at Lockerbie), Judith McFarlane (Area Curling Development Officer at Braehead), Lynne Fraser (ACDO Inverness), Logan Gray (new ACDO Stirling, to be confirmed), Claire Milne (ACDO Perth, Atholl and Dundee), David Horne (ACDO Greenacres and Waterfront), Jim Morrison (ACDO Hamilton and East Kilbride), Jim Buchanan (ACDO Borders) and Ena Stevenson (Kinross Curling School).

The group met at the Lanarkshire Rink yesterday to review and discuss all matters relating to curling development in Scotland, from the Curling's Cool programme, beginners and improvers, coach availability and education, come and try initiatives, junior clubs, after school clubs, beginners' leagues, disability initiatives, corporate curling, funding issues, skills awards, club development, masterclasses, and the long term player development pathway.

These are the enthusiasts who are in the front line in expanding our sport in Scotland. All their posts are funded in different ways, most involving multiple funding partners, including the Royal Club and sportscotland. Reflecting the diversity of the country's rinks, all the posts have different priorities and problems. Yesterday gave the oportunity to share the problems, and benefit from the experiences of others.

Scottish curling would be poorer if it was not for this group who certainly do not get enough recognition for their efforts.

The sad news on the day was that Gordie announced that his resignation has been submitted and he will leave his post in July.

May 08, 2007

RCCC Ladies' Branch AGM

A well attended RCCC Ladies' Branch AGM in Larkhall's sports centre today saw Marion Craig stand down as President after a successful year in office. Patricia Thomson (above centre) is now Ladies' Branch President, and Sheila Miller (above right) is Vice-president. Kay Gibb (above left) was elected as Junior Vice-President.

Highlights of the meeting saw Olympian Rhona Martin report on her team's campaign at the European Championship where they had finished in fourth place. Confirming her retirement from competitive play (on her appointment as Apprentice Coach with the Scottish Institute of Sport) Rhona thanked all who had supported her in the past years, and received a standing ovation as she left the platform.

Kelly Wood gave a detailed account of her team's campaign at the Worlds in Aomori, her delight in gaining her first medal as skip (the team won bronze), and her determination to find success in internal competition in the years ahead. She paid an emotional tribute to her long-time rival Rhona Martin.

There was a triumphalist presentation from Sarah Reid's World Junior Champions and their coach Sheila Swan, complete with photos, video and music, as they endeavoured to put across to the audience all that goes into achieving a championship winning performance.

Royal Club CEO Colin Grahamslaw, and Board Chairman Mike Ferguson, both addressed the assembled members.

May 04, 2007

The best action photography

The efforts of Scottish Curler team member Richard Gray have been recognised with one of his recent photographs being shortlisted in the EMOTION round of the Photographer of the Year competition in Practical Photography magazine. Richard's pic of David Edwards at the Scottish Championship appears in the May 2007 issue.

The judges said:
'Attention-grabbing facial expression. Check.
Excellent composition and framing. Check.
We were sent loads of sporting images but none caught the moment quite like this.'

Well done, Richard!

More of Richard's great photos can be seen here, our website which showcases the best of Scottish Curler photos. The season 2006-07 gallery is now complete. All of the photos on this site can be purchased. Need a birthday or anniversary gift? Email me, or use the contact us option on the website.

May 03, 2007

Seniors Invitation for Greenacres

A European Senior Invitation event is to be held at Greenacres next season. The competition has received legacy funding from the financially successful World Women's Championship and the World Senior Championships held at Paisley and Greenacres in 2005.

The dates are October 31 to November 3, 2007.

Watch the ECF website for details.