August 30, 2007

Do you want to curl for Britain at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics?

British Curling, the organisation charged with selecting, supporting and preparing the British curling teams for the Vancouver Olympics, is seeking to register those curlers who wish to be considered for the Great Britain Olympic curling squads for the Winter Olympic Games in 2010.

An athlete information pack is now available, covering the selection process, timelines and eligibility for Vancouver 2010. The information packs can be obtained by contacting:

Marc Scott
British Curling Admin Support
Scottish Institute of Sport
Airthrey Road
Stirling FK9 5PH

01786 460105

Only athletes who are eligible for the Great Britain Team and who have a genuine aspiration and realistic ability to compete in the medal zone at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games 2010 should return a registration of interest.

The closing date for applications is September 30, 2007.

Squads of eight athletes are to be selected in the first instance, these to be cut down to teams of five players. An outline of British Curling's Performance Plan, announced in July, may be found here.

The photos below of the British teams in action at Pinerolo 2006 are by Hugh Stewart.

August 28, 2007

Royal Club coaching qualifications

At a seminar at the Royal Club AGM on June 16 National Coaching Officer Lynne Robertson unveiled the new coach education pathway for those currently teaching, and those wanting to teach, curling in Scotland. Now application forms are available on the RCCC website here for those wishing to become Assistant Coaches.

Four courses are being offered: at Dumfries (September 19); at Inverness (September 28); at Perth (October 3); and at Stirling (October 8).

The Assistant Coach (formally Level A), is the first level coaching qualification. An introduction to curling coaching, the Assistant Coach qualification provides anyone, whatever their curling experience, with sufficient knowledge and skill to assist Technical Coaches effectively, working mainly with beginners.

More information about the coach education pathway is here, and of course Lynne is available at Cairnie House to answer any questions. Her email address can be found here.

August 26, 2007

If you cannot get ahead get a hat

The silly season that marks the end of August continues, with the new curling season imminent. News today of a 'must have' curling accessory for the keen fan of the sport. The curling hat!

Keir Kurinsky is the president of He hopes his initiative will bring together curlers from around the world to help celebrate and promote our wonderful sport. Absolutely!

The hats are molded to the exact specifications of real curling stones! They can be customised with a country flag. I can just see Scots supporters in the barmy army with their saltire-bedecked stone bunnets at the Euros and Worlds in the season ahead!

Wait a moment, though. Why should they just be for the fans? Should they not have been worn by the WCF Executive members as they sat round the table in their deliberations at the WCF headquarters at Tay Street, Perth, last week. (I wonder what was discussed?)

Or perhaps the hats should be compulsory headgear for the Royal Club Board directors at their monthly meetings?

Seriously though, curling photographers should wear them. As camouflage. Blend in with the surroundings as they are out in the rink trying to get that perfect action shot. Become less of a distraction to the curlers. (Memo to self. Buy hats for Scottish Curler photographers)

Take this photo of Hakan Sundstrom, the Swedish Curling Association Secretary and Swedish correspondent for the Scottish Curler magazine, in action with his camera a couple of seasons ago. Should he not be wearing a curling stone hat? Actually he may well be. Hakan joins the over-60s this week.

Happy birthday Hakan!

How much do these wonderful hats cost? Thirty dollars and worth every cent. Bulk discounts available. Buy online. Also seen on eBay.

August 23, 2007

Have you talent on ice?

ITV is to audition soon for a new talent on ice show. Whereas skaters are the obvious target, the producers of the show are looking to get the word out to the curling community.

So, if there are any curlers out there who have talents in addition to their curling abilities, then the number to call for more information is 0845 357 0210, or you could email

Perhaps some of the teams taking part in the Curlathon at Braehead next month might fancy the opportunity of becoming television stars?

I'm not sure about the dance, but there are certainly a lot of comedians on the curling circuit, a few teams who like to have a bit of drama in their games, and the idea of a group of singing curlers just has a lot of appeal. Imagine, your skip sings his/her instructions, rather than just shouting at you! Or you could go down the Swedish route. Have a look again at Anette Norberg's video with Hammerfall!

Put your thinking hats on - this could be your big breakthrough!

August 22, 2007

The glamour in curling

The Scottish Curler's Swiss correspondent, Erwin Sautter, has sent a summer curling update about Carmen Schaefer (who you will remember was a member of the Swiss Junior World Champion rink in 1999) and that she has teamed up with Mirjam Ott (who you will remember captured Olympic Silver in 2006) to go for Gold in Vancouver 2010. The Swiss Sunday paper, SonntagsBlick, gave Carmen the full treatment in a feature in the August 19 edition, see photo above.

I rather suspect that Erwin just wanted to send me a nice pic for my birthday!

However, it got me thinking that we in Scotland have our own share of glamour on the ice. There are just nine days to go before we turn over a new month on Ana Arce's Team Sponsorship calendar to reveal Miss September ........... Jackie Lockhart! Jackie, world champion skip in 2002, is now playing three to Kelly Wood and the team were bronze medallists in Aomori last season. Jackie had shoulder surgery earlier this summer and has made good progress in her recovery from that.

So, will there be a 2008 glamour calendar? Ana Arce's website does seem to indicate that there are plans. Could there even be male models? David Murdoch, Ewan Byers, Keith Prentice and Logan Gray have all been touted as Scottish possibilities!
Perhaps not.

There was glamour aplenty at the Editor's birthday bash last Saturday! RCCC Ladies' Branch President Patricia Thompson came suitably attired in an outfit to match Abbamania's costumes (below) and was a dab hand at the washer tossing too.

Last word on birthdays. Birthdays are good for you - the more you have the longer you live!

Jackie Lockhart pic is by Richard Gray. Birthday pics are by Hugh Stewart.

August 19, 2007

The Editor at 60

The ingredients needed for a successful party are: (1) a great venue, (2) good food, (3) top entertainment, (4) some friends. All of these were in evidence for the Scottish Curler Editor's big birthday bash yesterday. AKA the Scottish Washer Toss Championships, the event went ahead at the Greenacres curling rink. The entertainment was provided by the excellent local tribute band Abbamania with representatives from the Scottish curling scene jigging the evening away. Some old friends had even been present at the Editor's 21st (seems like just yesterday), that also held in an ice rink - the discotheque at Crossmyloof!

Thanks to all who contributed more than £600 to a charity raffle, those who donated to Cancer Research UK in lieu of a gift, to party organisers Christine and Hugh Stewart, to those behind the scenes at Greenacres, especially the big boss, Richard Harding, and to those who braved the elements to attend!

Highlights of the night? Too many to record here. Perhaps it was Peter Wilson's unerring accuracy in finding the potty so often on his way to winning the Men's Washer Tossing Championship! He is of course a star member of the Irish curling team. And he comes from Stranraer.

But then there was the rendition by Abbamania of a variation of the hit 'Thank you for the Music'. The chorus:

'So I say...
Thank you for the curling, the stones I'm playing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without them, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a stone or a broom, what are we?
So I say, thank you for the curling
For giving us the tee.'

(Says it all really! Apparently this was first heard at the Worlds in Gavle in 2004. Apologies for the lack of an attribution)

The serious business of the evening as the Ed makes a deeep incision on his birthday cake! More of Hugh Stewart's photos (perhaps) in the October issue of the Scottish Curler magazine.

Postscript 1: My former colleague from GRI Biochemistry Carol Fell has posted her photos of the evening here. Great job Carol, and also thank you to all who have emailed today to say how much they enjoyed the evening!

And if you want to see something you may never see again (or want to) here is Carol's video clip of the Editor singing with the Horton choir.

August 17, 2007

A bright future for Lees's Grand Match painting which is to go on show in Edinburgh soon

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club owns a large oil painting by Charles Lees of the Grand Match at Linlithgow Loch. There was considerable controversy last year when it was revealed that the Club was looking to sell the painting at open auction. After consultation with the membership a compromise was adopted by the Board - that the painting might go to the National Galleries of Scotland, the national asset being retained within Scotland. With the auction house Sotheby's acting as agents for the Royal Club, negotiations were entered into with the National Galleries. The story was told in detail in June here.

The Minutes of the Royal Club Board from August 1, which will be found here, as well as a public statement here (and shown in full below), show that the parties are close to an agreement. Discussions are to be held on how the money raised from the sale might be used! Such funds will go into the Royal Club's Charitable Trust Fund, set up last season. Even better news is that the painting is to go on show soon at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, on Queen Street, Edinburgh. That will generate renewed interest in, and publicity for, the painting. It will also allow members an opportunity to see the 'damage' to the painting. Last year much was made of the costs that would have to be incurred by the Royal Club membership in restoring the painting if it was to be retained by the Club. Such restoration would be carried out by the National Galleries if, as is hoped, the sale goes though.

The carefully worded announcement is cause for optimism that the painting will be saved for the nation. It states:

'The Board of the RCCC and the RCCC Charitable Trust are pleased to announce that they have agreed to loan the Charles Lees Painting of 'The Grand Match at Linlithgow' to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

RCCC Board Chairman Mike Ferguson said, "We have entered discussions over a possible sale of the painting to the Portrait Gallery. We will continue to work to ensuring that the wishes of the vast majority of curlers, ie that the painting remains in Scotland and open to public view, will be met. We are fully considering our options with regard to the use of the funds generated by any sale. At this stage it would be fair to say the abiding principles that will be passed on to the Directors of the RCCC Charitable Trust will be protection of the capital for curling's future and best use of the income to support curling's heritage and development."

James Holloway, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery said, "Charles Lees' painting of the Grand Match at Linlithgow is one of Scotland's greatest sporting paintings. I am delighted that we have been allowed by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club to borrow it and display it in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery."'

Detail from Lees's painting is from the Scottish Curler archive.

August 16, 2007

Pendreigh is GB wheelchair curling coach

Tom Pendreigh has been appointed as the GB paralympic wheelchair curling coach. The post was advertised in June and described here.

Today's announcement by the Scottish Institute of Sport, in partnership with British Curling and the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), comes as no surprise. Pendreigh, from Inverness, is well known for his work with wheelchair curlers. He coached the squad which won silver at the 2006 Paralympic Games in Turin. As a coach he has an outstanding record with Team Murdoch, gold medallists at the world championship in 2006.

The full announcement, with quotes from Penny Briscoe, Performance Director of the British Paralympic Association, Derek Brown, British Curling's Performance Director, and Chris Hildrey, British Curling's Chairman, can be found here.

If agreed with the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association and the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Pendreigh may also become the Scottish wheelchair curling head coach, that position still to be confirmed.

August 15, 2007

Scottish Championship 2008 draw

Thirty-one teams, an increase of three from last year, will contest the Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship next season. The qualifiers at the Dewar's Centre, Perth, will be held over two weekends, January 12-13 and February 1-3. The draw can now be seen on the Royal Caledonian Curling Club website here. There will be four sections, three with eight teams and one with seven.

The top two teams in each section will qualify by right for the Scottish Championship Finals (also at Perth, February 19-24). The third placed teams in each section will contest tiebreakers for the remaining two places in the Finals.

Warwick Smith and his team take the first step in the defence of their title in Section B against Murrayfield's Graham Patrick at 9.30 am on Saturday, January 12, 2008. Last season's runners-up, skipped by Aberdeen's Tom Brewster, will open their account at 12.30 pm against Kirkcaldy's David Steel in Section D.

Scottish Champion Warwick Smith is in full voice in Richard Gray's photo from the 2007 Bruadar Scottish Championship final. Tom Brewster and Hammy McMillan watch behind. More Scottish Curler pics from last season are here.

August 13, 2007

Wheelchair curlers excel in another sport

Five wheelchair curlers have been selected for the Scottish bowls team which will be heading to Sydney, Australia, in October for the IBD World Championships. Following three months of trials and skills tests at the Whiteinch Indoor Bowling Club in Glasgow, supervised by Head Coach Bob Dick, Rosemary Lenton (Borders Wheelchair Curling Club), Jim Sellar (Braehead Wheelchair Curling Club), Bill Masterton (Braehead Wheelchair Curling Club) and Ian Donaldson (Lockerbie Wheelchair Curling Club) were selected as part of the playing squad. The four curlers join four other physically disabled and five visually impaired teammates in the squad for Sydney.

Michael McCreadie (Braehead Wheelchair Curling Club) will be the Scottish Team Manager.

Michael has twice been world wheelchair curling champion, and is no stranger to the game of bowls. He won two bronze medals in lawn bowling as a player at the Toronto Paralympics in 1976.

The photo is Michael McCreadie

August 10, 2007

Planning granted for new Gogar rink

The plans for a new curling rink at Ratho to replace the Gogar Park rink which closed in 2005 have already been described in these pages. Another hurdle, that of achieving planning premission, has now been overcome.

According to a report in the Edinburgh Evening News, Edinburgh City councillors gave the plans the go-ahead at a planning meeting yesterday, despite officials recommending it should be refused because it could harm the 'rural character' of the area.

At an EGM in June, club members backed plans to push ahead with efforts to have their own rink again. At present club competitions are held at Murrayfield. The business plan can be downloaded from the Gogar website. This recent positive planning decision will provide further impetus to these efforts.

This aerial photo is taken from Gogar's business plan for the Ratho development and shows where the 6-sheet rink would be located in relation to the existing climbing centre.

August 09, 2007

Regional Academy 2007-08

The details of this season's Regional Academy have been made public today. You can read the RCCC announcement here.

There are four strands to the 'performance pathway' of a curler in Scotland. The initial stepping stone is the Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Regional Academy which supports individual curlers from age fourteen who show excellence in curling. The programme is organised with training and support in ten regions: Angus, Ayrshire, Central, East, Galloway, Grampian, Highland, North West, South West and Tayside and Fife.

The programme is managed by Nancy Murdoch, the RCCC's Performance Development Coach. Each region has an identified Technical Director and Coach. Fifty-two individuals are included in the Regional Academy this season.

The Regional Academy programme is funded by the athletes themselves who pay an induction fee, as well as RCCC administered funds.

The named athletes and their support are:

Technical Director: Lorraine Henderson
Coach: Hazel Wood
Athlete: Jill Donald

Technical Director: Agi Bryson
Coach: Tom Reid
Athletes: Aron Bryson, John Johnston, Craig Kirkwood, David Miller, Michael Reid, Gavin Reid, Craig Reid, Stuart Templeton

Technical Director: Irene Hird
Coach: Logan Gray
Athletes: Michael Goodfellow, Lindsay Gray, Judith McFarlane

Technical Director: Robin Copland
Coaches: Trevor Dodds and Susan Kesley
Athletes: Tasha Aitken, Annie Barr, Ian Copland, Jennifer Dodds, Mairi Girvan, Gillian Howard, Clare Lang, Robert McBride, Fran Stretton, Struan Wood

Technical Director: Kay Gibb and Albert Midler
Coaches: Kay Gibb and Albert Midler
Athletes: Rosemary Arkley, Andrew Dolman, Eddie Steven, Simon Gibb, Gordon Kennedy, Jamie McDowall, John Penny

Technical Director: Lynne Fraser
Coach: Lynne Fraser
Athletes: Robert Craigie, Ally Fraser, Blair Fraser, Grant Fraser, Alison Kinghorn, Peter Macintyre, Scott Fraser

Technical Director: Judith McFarlane
Coach: Don Frame
Athletes: Alison Black, Graeme Black, Emma Craig, Megan Priestley, Callum McLeod, Gary Cannell

Technical Director: Marion Murdoch
Coach: Marion Murdoch
Athletes: Hannah Fleming, Duncan Gracie, Kirsten McNay, Thomas Sloan, Alice Spence, Kimberley Smith

Technical Director: Agi Bryson
Coach: Tom Reid
Athlete: Jay McWilliam

Technical Director: Claire Milne
Coach: Lynn Cameron
Athletes: Andrew Bayne, Steven Mitchell, Sharon Stewart

Jay McWilliam won the National Pairs title last season, and is the lone athlete in the Galloway Region.

August 08, 2007

Sub Zero Sweepers Curling Team

OK, so it's a slow news week! But if you want to have a chuckle today check out, which features the members of a fictional (? your call) South African curling team called the Sub Zero Sweepers. Their sponsors - Nando's chicken restaurants.

You can download lots of little video clips of television ads, and interviews. If you have difficulty doing this with your browser, you will find some of them on YouTube. The Big Intro for example is here.

The team even have their own cheerleaders!

Have a good laugh today. The 'serious' stuff will be starting soon enough - next month!

August 04, 2007

Looking ahead to 2008 finals

The draws for the Scottish Masters (the over 60s) Championships, the Scottish Seniors (over 50s) Championships, and the Scottish Juniors (under 21) Championships have now been posted on the Royal Caledonian Curling Club website.

Looking at the Masters draws first of all, thirty-four teams have entered the men's qualifiers to be held in two sessions at Greenacres in November and January. Jim Stevenson is the holder and is in the draw again. Thirteen women's teams are straight through to the Scottish Masters Finals at Greenacres, March 5-9. Stirling's Annette MacDonald is the current champion and her team is in the draw for the 2008 event.

Annette will play in the Seniors Championship as well as the Masters. Eighteen teams are entered and are all straight through to Finals which this season are at the Lanarkshire Ice Rink, Hamilton, February 14-17. Another side playing in both Seniors and Masters is that skipped by Kirsty Letton, previously champions in both events. There has to be new women's senior champions this season, Caroline Morris having returned to her native Canada.

In the Men's Seniors, competition is getting tougher. Twenty-seven teams play off in five sections at Greenacres in January, the qualifiers joining those from a six team group at Aberdeen. Scottish and World Champion Keith Prentice is in the draw.

There will be new Junior Men's champions this year, and twenty-one teams set out on that quest at Ayr, January 18-20. The top two in each of the four sections will contest the Junior Championship title at Perth, February 6-10.

Only eight teams have entered the Junior Women's Championship, and all are straight through to the Finals. The holder, and World Champion, Sarah Reid, is too old to defend, although Eve Muirhead, Sarah's third player last season, has put together a new team to challenge.

Photos of Jim and Annette are by Hugh Stewart.

August 02, 2007

Money for sport in Scotland

A sum of £6.5 million is to be invested in Scottish sport to increase participation, improve elite performances and deliver world-class facilities, Stewart Maxwell, the Communities and Sport Minister, announced today.

The full sportscotland press release is here.

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club is one of eleven sports governing bodies which jointly receive over £2 million. Curling's share is £391,500. This funding pays for a number of salaries at Cairnie House and programmes such as Curling's Cool and the new National Academy initiatives. More details are available on the RCCC website here.