November 30, 2007

Fussen pics 5: Scotland's men

Euan Byers

Peter Smith

Graeme Connal

David Murdoch

Back L-R: Peter Smith (2nd), Peter Loudon (alternate), David Hay (Team Coach)
Front: Euan Byers (lead), Graeme Connal (3rd), David Murdoch (skip), Derek Brown (National Coach)

Fussen pics 4: We're off

The starting pistol

Oompah oompah

Umpires on parade

Scotland take to the streets

Colourful Hungary

Photos by Bob.

Fussen pics 3: Scotland's women

Lindsay Wood

Lorna Vevers

Jackie Lockhart

Kelly Wood

Back L-R: Hew Chalmers (Team Coach), Jackie Lockhart (3rd), Karen Addison (alternate), Derek Brown (National Coach) Front: Lindsay Wood (lead), Lorna Vevers (2nd), Kelly Wood (skip)

Photos by Bob.

Fussen pics 2: Practice time

Chief Umpire Leslie Ingram-Brown addresses the teams at the Team Meeting today.

Some of the Scottish Squad listen attentively!

Hungarian men's coach Reiner Schopp studies the stones as his team practise in the B arena.

Joe Fritz is head ice technician in the B arena.

And look who's in the B division. Dordi Nordby (whose retirement was announced somewhat prematurely in the Scottish Curler magazine) is charged with getting her young Norwegians back into the A division.

The event website is here.

Special nomination for Kelly

Kelly Wood has been named as Athlete of the Year by British Curling, the body responsible for the Great Britain team for the Olympics. The Athlete of the Year award is encouraged by the British Olympic Association, and all governing bodies of Olympic sports have the opportunity to nominate an athlete from their discipline.

The nomination for British Curling was decided by a panel based on the results and statistics from World and European Championships in season 2006/07. The nominated athletes from each discipline are invited to the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award ceremony, December 9. Kelly won’t be able to go of course as she is here in Fussen at the Le Gruyere European Championships.

Kelly (26) skipped the bronze medal team at the World Women’s Curling Championship in Japan earlier this year. She is one of Scotland’s most experienced international curlers, having represented Scotland at three World Junior Curling Championships, four World Women’s Curling Championships, three European Curling Championships and was a member of the Great Britain team at the Olympics in 2006.

For the full press release including all the quotes see here.

November 29, 2007

Fussen pics 1: The ice awaits

Here it is. Pristine. Waiting for the first stones when the teams practise tomorrow.

The official event website is here

The main arena where the A league games will be held. Last minute preparations ongoing for the television broadcasts.

The B arena. All ready for the action. A lone worker hoovers the carpet!

The shops in Fussen have entered into the spirit of the event - although I wonder when these corn brooms last saw action!

It IS snow. The town must have had quite a dump of snow this week.

Yes, Christmas is coming! This on Fussen's main street.

November 28, 2007

Team blogging

Putting together the Scottish Curler magazine is very much a team effort, and I continue to be grateful for all the help I get each month from the 'team'. The more observant of Curling Today watchers will have noticed recent posts, not by me, but by 'Christines' - aka the magazine's depute editor Christine Stewart. Curling Today is a team effort too!

Curling Today will be at the European Championships in Fussen! Check Curling Today often for reports and photos from the event which begins on Saturday.

The December Scottish Curler magazine has been printed and is set to go into the mail to subscribers early next week. Don't forget there is a thread on the Scottish Curling Forum looking for feedback and suggestions about the magazine. And if you are not a subscriber, details are on the magazine's main website here.

Incidentally, the Scottish Curling Forum is close to reaching one hundred registered members. As an incentive to sign up, Sandy Morton from Millport has crafted a wooden 'wee curling stone' which will go to one lucky curler, drawn from all registered users, when the magic 100 is reached. Registration is free, there are no catches, and you will not receive junk mail. Those behind the Forum just want as much discussion as possible on all aspects of the sport.

Incidentally, the wee stone is made from zebrano wood and is about five inches across.

Not too late to enter the Braehead Open

There are still two spaces available in next week's Glasgow Audi Braehead Open. The event goes ahead Monday December 3 - Thursday December 6, with £2000 of prize money.

All games are played at 6pm and 8.30pm. Teams play the opening round on the Monday or Tuesday night, and games thereafter depend on results.

There are thirty teams entered already. The competitive entry for the third year of the event includes a team skipped by Logan Gray who will challenge last season's winners and runners-up skipped by Alan Manuel and Ross Paterson (photo below).

A number of senior teams are using the competition for practice prior to the Seniors playdowns including Ken Horton and Gary Macfarlane. Women's teams include those skipped by Kirsty Letton, Margaret Richardson and Margaret Cameron.

Competition details are here. Email Gary Macfarlane at randomff /at/, or phone the Braehead rink, if you can play!

Photo of Alan Manuel and Ross Paterson by Bob Cowan.

November 26, 2007

European Championships teams

The teams competing at the European Championships starting on Saturday in Fussen, Germany, seem to have been finalised and the Championships look wide open.

There's been a change to Scotland's men's team, Ewan McDonald has had to step down as manager due to injury, Peter Loudon steps in as fifth man while David Hay, the original alternate, steps up to the job of team coach.

The team David Murdoch, Graeme Connal, Peter Smith and Euan Byers face up to some tough opposition. The home country Germany is fielding the 2007 World Silver medallists, Andy Kapp, Uli Kapp, Andreas Lang and Andreas Kempf, they'll be fired up to perform well in front of the home crowd.

Peja Lindholm is back again for Sweden, he's already got a couple of European titles to his name. It's his second season with his new team, that's James Dryburgh, does the name sound familiar? at three, Victor Kjall and Anders Eriksson, they should make the playoffs.

Norway, Thomas Ulsrud, Torger Nergard, Christoffer Svae and Havard Vad Peterson will be a team to be reckoned with as well. Since Pal Trulsen retired Ulsrud has been Norway's main man.

Johnny Frederiksen, Lars Vilandt, Bo Jensen and Kenneth Hertsdahl have represented Denmark a number of times without making too much of a mark. For this Championship they have Ulrik Schmidt, one of Denmark's most successful skips, as their coach.

The Swiss team, skipped by Toni Muller, is new to international curling, their trump card could be fifth man Ralph Stockli.

Joel Retornaz skipped Italy at the Olympics in 2006 and made himself a firn favourite with the crowd, he's quite a showman. Joel has dual nationality and spent last season playing in Switzerland, but he's back for Italy this year.

You can never predict what the French team will be like, this year it's skipped by Thomas Dufour, but whichever team it is that represents France, on the day they can be brilliant or they can be awful, we'll just have to wait and see.

With Markuu Uusipalvaniemi now a member of parliament in Finland he's stepped down from the curling circuit, Kalle Kiskannen, this year's skip, was in the Olympic Games 2006 silver medal team and alternate Willi Makela played three to Markuu for many years so the experience is there.

The team from the Czech Republic skipped by Jiri Snitl is unkown, so no predictions on them.

The Murdoch four face Italy in their first game on Saturday. The full draw is here.

Kelly Wood with Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood face a tough week as well, their first game on Saturday is against Germany, skip Andrea Schopp, those with long memories will remember Andrea winning the World title in Glasgow back in 1988. The full draw is here.

Schopp played in Switzerland this past weekend in a field featuring a number of European teams, she finished in third spot in that event.

Switzerland's Miriam Ott is a force to be reckoned with, she has rarely been out of the medals in any Championship she's played in and that includes two Olympic Games, getting the silver medal in 2006. Ott won the event in Wetzikon, Switzerland, last weekend.

Ludmilla Privivkova skipped Russia to the European gold medal last year in Basel, the team didn't do so well at the World Championships but they'll want to defend their title, the lost to Ott in the final last weekend.

Sweden, what can you say, it's Anette Norberg with Eva Lund, Catherine Lindahl and Anna Svard. Anette is the most successfu woman skip, remember she took the European, World and Olympic titles in season 2005/2006. They didn't perform well in Japan earlier this year but make no mistake this curling machine on form could do it again.

Diana Gaspari, Giulia Lacadelli, Elettra Da Col and Violetta Caldert got the silver medals in the 2006 European Championships but struggled at the World Championship, can they go one better this year?

Lene Nielsen and her team are Denmark's representatives, they beat World silver mdeallist Angelina Jensen in a two weekend playoff for the right to go to the Europeans. They're a young team with not a lot of international experience.

Team Austria skipped by Claudia Toth is unlikely to make the playoffs, and the same goes for the Czech Republic with Katerina Urbanova.

But for every country at the European Championships they're first target will be making sure of the important place in the World Championships next year.

We don't know much about the team from Finland, skip Anne Malmi made her first international appearance in 1983, we'll just have to wait and see.

New names feature in U17 curling at Greenacres

Gavin, I know how you feel!

The pic is Gavin Reid, things not going too well in the final of the Baljaffray Under-17 event at Greenacres yesterday. Gavin and his team of Calum McLeod, Russell Boyd and Callum Preston came second in the U17 Slam competition. The winners were Alan Inch, Kyle Waddell, Andrew Ballantyne and Craig Waddell (photo below). Twenty-four teams took part. Inch beat Hannah Fleming's side in the semi, and Reid got past Billy Morton's team, with Jay McWilliam skipping, on the other side of the draw. Colin Dick's team of Anna Sloan, Lauren Gray and Struan Wood won the Low Road. All the scores are here. The Slam standings are here.

It was a busy weekend. I visited five rinks in four days - Perth, Aberdeen, Greenacres, Galleon and Ayr, and saw a cross section of Scottish curling, and our curlers in action! Ayr was my last stop and I was impressed to see the rink packed on a Sunday evening with club curlers, of all ages, enjoying their sport. This is what it really is all about.

From top: Gavin Reid; Gavin Reid and Alan Inch in the final (photos by Bob); L-R: Craig Waddell (lead), Andrew Ballantyne (2nd), Alan Inch (skip) and Kyle Waddell (3rd) with competition sponsors Margaret and Jimmy Paul (photo by Hugh Stewart).

November 25, 2007

Shaw wins Galleon Mini Tour

Graham Shaw and his team of Sandy Christie, Lee McCleary and Ian Harley won the third Mini Tour event, at Kilmarnock's Galleon Centre today. The Shaw team took a three in the first end of their final against Scott Hamilton's side (Duncan Gracie, Graham Smith and David Morton), and with two more at the third had control of the game.

All the scores from the weekend are on the Royal Club website here.

The overall Mini Tour title went to the David Edwards team (see here) who were runners-up at Hamilton and winners at Lockerbie. The Edwards team were not competing at the Galleon, but Graham Sloan accepted the Colin Galbraith trophy from Jeanette Galbraith.

From top: Ian Harley, Lee McCleary, Graham Shaw, Sandy Christie; Sandy and Lee help their skip decide the shot to play in the final; Scott Hamilton delivery. Photos by Bob.

November 24, 2007

Gold League on Sunday

"Why don't you have a look at Dave Edwards' experiments in streaming video of curling from the Columba Cream Gold League on Sunday morning and afternoon. Click here," says Edith.

Or you could contribute to the discussions on video streaming of curling on the Scottish Curling Forum.

Or you could just follow the results from Aberdeen here on the Royal Club website.

Me? I'm off to Greenacres and the Galleon!

Two Golds for China at Pacific Championships

China's men and women both won their gold medal matches at the Pacific Curling Championships in Beijing today. The men beat Australia and the women defeated Japan. All four teams have berths in the world championships later this season. China and Japan will play at Vernon, BC, in the Ford World Women's Championship 2008, and China and Australia in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in the Men's World Championship 2008.

All the results from the Pacific Championships are here.

The photo of the two gold medal winning teams is courtesy of Keith Wendorf.

Gold League at Aberdeen

One of these skips, shown below, will be Scottish Champion this season! The first round of the Columba Cream Gold League got underway at Aberdeen today. Two rounds Saturday, two tomorrow. Then it's on to Kinross and Perth. Results are here.

Kelly Wood; Gillian Howard; Claire Hamilton; Edith Loudon; Gail Munro (Karen Addison and Annie Laird are the sweepers); Sarah Reid (with Jennifer Priestley and Linsey Spence from Team Hamilton behind); Sharon Stewart and Claire Milne.

Photos by Bob.

Streaming from Aberdeen

The Scottish Curling Forum has had an active discussion in recent months about the feasibility of video streaming of Scottish events.

Onthebutton (above) has been experimenting and as I type this he has a stream for the Gold Leage live at

When this afternoon's game is finished, a recording will be available to view.

The experiment will continue tonight from 6pm. Why not click on the link to see the curling live.

And who is 'Onthebutton'? None other than David Edwards (below)!

PS Moray Combe apologises for the shakey camera work.

Photos by Bob.

November 23, 2007

Proposed National Curling Academy at Stirling is dead

So, here I am, the December Scottish Curler safely in the hands of the printers and the proofs all signed off, on my way to Aberdeen to spend an enjoyable day watching the first round of the Gold League, and this bombshell arrives in my email! The proposed National Curling Academy, to provide a home and training base for Scotland's top curlers, and which was to be built in association with Stirling's new rink, is not now going to go ahead. The news is on the Royal Club website here.

You may have been following the saga. Some five years ago Greenacres and Braehead were bidding for the project. Then Stirling wanted it. Not all who would supply the funding though, were fully on board. Various excuses were offered, and months (make that years) have gone by. Now it's not going to happen, and the whole process is right back to square one with the Royal Club now seeking expressions of interest from other rinks.

I would not normally reproduce verbatim the Royal Club announcement on the blog, but this is so important that I've included it below. Check out the Scottish Curling Forum where there will no doubt be a thread on this. If there isn't already, then I'll start one. Please contribute to the discussion. What do you think of the whole sorry business (apologies, I'm editorialising already)? Is anyone to blame for the five wasted years? Do we really need a National Academy facility (or Centre of Excellence as it used to be called)? If we are going to have one at all, should it go to Gogar, to Pitlochry, to Aviemore, to Cupar .......... Get talking on the Forum!

Here's the announcement:
Alternative Locations Sought for National Curling Academy

Following a lengthy process, the partners involved in the development of the National Curling Academy at Forthbank, Stirling have decided that they are not in a position, at this moment in time, to move forward with the project. Despite great efforts by all of the partners it was not possible to achieve the aims of the project in the immediate future. This decision does not effect the replacement for the current Stirling Ice Rink, work on which has already started and is hoped to be completed early in 2009.

Royal Club CEO, Colin Grahamslaw said “We are naturally disappointed that we are not able to progress the NCA project with Stirling at this time. We will be meeting with sportscotland in the next few days to discuss the implications and look at potential alternative sites for the NCA which we believe would be an important addition to the stock of curling facilities in Scotland.” Grahamslaw continued “As we look at alternative plans we need to ensure that the Academy provides not only top class facilities for our squad players but also gives first class ice provision for club curlers in the area in which it is built”

Although the process for assessing alternative locations will not be decided until after the meeting with sportscotland, who are the major funding partners in the project, any rink or group interested in discussing this opportunity should note their interest in writing with the Royal Club CEO before December 21st.

Qualifiers from Pacific Championships

China and Australia have both qualified for the 2008 World Men's Curling Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota. China beat Japan in two straight games in their best-of-three semifinals at the Pacific Championships in Beijing. Australia beat New Zealand twice in their semifinal matches. Japan and Australia have still to meet though to decide who wins the Pacific Championship Gold.

The results are all here.

The Chinese women are also through to the Ford World Women's Championship in Vernon, British Columbia. Bingyu Wang ended up being ranked in first place after the women's double round robin with a 7-1 win-loss record. That was the same record that Japan had, but China had the better Draw Shot Challenge (China - 178.40 cm and Japan - 293.40 cm). That means China wins the Gold medal and qualifies for the Worlds.

Japan will now play against the third ranked team (Korea 4-4) and the winner of that game will get the Silver medal and qualifies their Association to the Women's World Championship.

It shows you, does it not, the importance of the team draw shot distance that has been introduced recently at championship events!

November 22, 2007

European Championships

The European Curling Championships kick off in just over a week on 1st December in Fussen, Germany, in draw 1 Scotland's women's team take on Germany. If you can't make it to Fussen you're not going to see any of draw 1.

Thereafter just make sure your TV and computer screens are set up and sit back and enjoy the rest of the Championships.

Eurosport will be covering many of the games live while CurlTV will be filming other games for webstreaming. Over 20 games in the round robin stage will be covered one way or the other. The closing stages, the page playoff, bronze medal games and the finals will be live on Eurosport.

Featured games could change during the week depending on results but one date for your diary is Sunday 2nd December, that's the day David Murdoch's team take on Germany in the afternoon, the women meet Sweden, skipped by the legendary Anette Norberg, in the evening, both should be great games to watch.

The likely schedule has been posted on the ECF website here.