December 29, 2007

Dick wins Atholl U-17 event

Colin Dick, Anna Sloan, Lauren Gray and Struan Wood won the Atholl U-17 event, sponsored by Ventrolla Tayside. Colin and his team beat Thomas Sloan, Blair Fraser, Scott Fraser and Jamie Fraser 5-1 in the final of the fourth RCCC Slam of the season, at the Pitlochry rink December 28-29.

In the Low Road final, Alan Inch, Kyle Waddell, Andrew Ballantyne and Craig Waddell beat David Miller, Gary Cannell, Fraser Davidson and Grant Richmond.

Today's special mention goes to the young team from Forfar, skipped by thirteen year old Duncan Menzies with David Jenkins, Alistair Stewart and Angus Dowell, for finishing third in the Low Road. It's what these U-17 events are all about - to give an opportunity for our young teams to gain competition experience. Great to see.

Top: L-R Struan Wood (lead), Colin Dick (skip), Anna Sloan (3rd) and Lauren Gray (2nd).
Above: The Menzies team in action.
Photos by Bob.

December 28, 2007

RCCC Masterclass at Kinross

The objective of a Royal Club Masterclass is to let club curlers experience something of what performance players are taught and learn during their training sessions. And so today at the Kinross rink some thirty-four curlers from all over Scotland found out all about split timing, angles and video analysis. The coaches for the day on the ice were Cate Brewster, Lynne Robertson, Tom Pendreigh, Sheila Swan and Claire Milne. Rhona Martin fielded questions on many aspects of the sport in an informal classroom session, and the afternoon was rounded off with a tactics session.

Earlier in the day sixteen RCCC coaches, many from the Kinross Curling School, had the opportunity too to learn from the experts and they then helped out with the club curler sessions in the afternoon.

The day was organised by RCCC Development Manager Judith McFarlane, in association with Ena Stevenson, the coaching co-ordinator at Kinross.

A further masterclass is scheduled for Hamilton next month and is already oversubscribed.

Top: Rhona Martin fields questions in a Q&A session. Above: Cate Brewster reviews video evidence with her students. Photos by Bob.

December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone, from the Scottish Curler team! This illustration is from a favourite Christmas card, sold by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club! It was drawn by the late Rod McLeod, of the Nondies CC, a friend fondly remembered.

December 23, 2007

Mixed Doubles

Here they are! Scotland's first Mixed Doubles Curling Champions. Logan Gray and Kelly Wood beat Dillan Perras and his mother Judith Carr at Murrayfield today in the final of the Scottish Mixed Doubles Championship, and they will now represent Scotland in the first World Mixed Doubles Championship at Vierumaki, Finland, March 9-15.

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

So what's the verdict on Mixed Doubles? Those who took part (friends, partners, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives) in the eighteen team competition enjoyed the experience, and their enthusiasm for the event would seem to ensure that the format is here to stay. Most of those competing had played pairs, and mixed doubles is 'advanced pairs' in a lot of ways. "It was fun," was the comment heard most often.

Even more important for the discipline's future was that it was interesting to watch. The games fairly skipped along, with lots of stones in play and interesting situations developing. The players themselves set up the stationary stones every end, keeping umpires' intervention to a minimum. The ice at Murrayfield was great, with more than enough curl to be able to bury stones behind the front guard.

All in all I would say it was a success! Well done to all involved. Roll on the World Championship! And best wishes to Kelly and Logan in that event.

Here are a few photos from the final.

Kelly Wood

Logan Gray

Judith and Dillan

So who said there would be no sweeping in mixed doubles!

Ho hum!


The above two pics are dedicated to the Front End Union! All the photos are by Bob.

December 21, 2007

Scottish Mixed Doubles

So, who's going to Vierumäki? Scotland's representatives for the first World Mixed Doubles Championship in Finland in March will be decided this weekend at the Murrayfield rink. Eighteen teams are taking part in four sections, starting today (Friday) at 12.30 with the playoffs on Sunday. The results will be here.

The World event now has its own website here. Twenty-nine countries are down to take part, including Brazil, the first time that a country from South America has competed in a WCF event! Scotland is in the Green group with Brazil as well as Australia, Russia, Czech Republic, Spain, Norway, Germany and Latvia.

The draw can be downloaded here.

So what to look forward to at the World Mixed Doubles? The special events page states: 'At Vierumäki you can participate in exotic adventures, do a variety of sports or just relax amidst a range of recreational activities. Vierumäki is also known for its wide culinary offering: you can enjoy sumptuous meals at our wilderness lodges or fine restaurants, or just treat yourself to some refreshing pastries at one of our cafés.' This description accompanies a pic of a sausage barbeque in the snow!

December 20, 2007

Scotland's team for Wheelchair Worlds announced

The Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association has announced the players who will represent Scotland in the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Sursee, Switzerland, February 2-9, 2008. They are Michael McCreadie, Aileen Neilson, Tom Killin, Jim Sellar and Rosemary Lenton. Tom Pendreigh is the Scotland team coach for the World event.

Michael, Aileen and Jim played in last season's World Championships in Solleftea, Sweden, bringing home the bronze medals. Tom Killin should have been in the team then, but illness prevented him from taking part. Now he's back. Rosemary Lenton is currently Scottish Wheelchair Champion with Aileen and Tom.

All competed at events in Utica in the USA and Richmond in Canada recently with the BC squad.

For news of wheelchair curling around the world, check out Eric Eales' site

Rosemary Lenton at a training camp at the Galleon last year. Photo by Bob.

British Olympic squad appointment for Hew Chalmers

British Curling has announced the appointment of Hew Chalmers as 'British Curling coordinator'. The role will involve the management and organisation of the curling squad and support staff in their preparation for both the Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver 2010.

Hew Chalmers is a Director of British Curling. He was GB Olympic Team Manager in 2002 and Team Coordinator in 2006. He takes up the post with immediate effect.

The full press release with quotes from BC Performance Director Derek Brown and BC Chairman Chris Hildrey is here.

Hew recently was in the news back in October when he was appointed one of the Royal Club's representatives to the World Curling Federation. That blog post is here.

December 16, 2007

A busy junior weekend

Lockerbie Junior Invitation winners: L-R Glen Muirhead, Scott Macleod, Gordon McDougall and Scott Andrews. Photo by Bob.

Lockerbie Junior Invitation winners: L-R Sarah Macintyre, Vicki Adams, Kerry Barr and Eve Muirhead. Photo by Bob.

Junior curling was very much to the fore at the weekend. Ten girls' teams and sixteen boys' teams competed in the Lockerbie Junior Invitation. Eve Muirhead's side defeated Kay Adams' team in the final of the junior women's competition. Glen Muirhead beat Jamie Dick for the junior men's trophy.

A full entry of sixteen teams were at Braehead for the Festive Cup on Saturday. The format of five end games in a strongly contested under-21 section saw Stuart Dodds and David Miller match up in the final. David won 4 - 2. In the oversubscribed under-16 section Andrew Ballantyne beat Hamilton McMillan in the last game.

Festive Cup U-16 winners: Hazel Smith, Euan Paterson, Andrew Ballantyne and Andrew Neilson. Photo by Corinne Shand.

Festive Cup U-21 winners: David Miller, Greg Matthew, Gary Cannell, Fraser Davidson. Photo by Corinne Shand.

December 15, 2007

Con Cup for Sin City?

I'm pretty sure that the Continental Cup, being played this weekend in Medicine Hat, Alberta, is of little interest to Scottish curlers. Despite the fact that two Scottish teams, skipped by Kelly Wood and David Murdoch are competing for Team Europe, the event has little relevance here, or to other countries in Europe. The made-for-television event, promoted by the World Curling Federation and the Canadian Curling Association, cannot be seen on this side of the Atlantic. Well, that's not strictly so, as some games are available if you are a CurlTV subscriber... and are prepared to sit up to the early hours of the morning.

Does it do anything to promote or advance curling in Europe? I submit it does not.

It's a pity really. By all accounts the players enjoy the event. It benefits them financially and it sounds fun to be part of. But perhaps it is only the logical people of Scotland/Europe that find it a bit strange that the competitors play away for three days, meaninglessly, because the outcome is decided entirely on the last couple of skins games!

Now what stimulated this little rant (and the editorial for January's Scottish Curler having already been written), is the discovery of Al Cameron's interview with Warren Hansen, the CCA's Manager of Event Operations and Media, which can be found here, and is mirrored above. Cameron is the curling scribe for the Calgary Herald. His Cameron on the Rocks blog is here.

Hansen indicates that the Con Cup could be headed for Las Vegas, Nevada, in the years ahead. And if you listen carefully, Hansen sees it coming to Scotland. Aye, right! I personally would hope that the Royal Club has more sense than to waste time and money getting involved in this charade. Speak your mind on the Scottish Curling Forum.

Next year's Con Cup will be held in Alberta, again, at Camrose. The press release is here.

However, if you ARE interested in this years event, you can find all the results here. Team Europe is struggling this time round, as I pen this. Still, Europe stuffed North America last year so it's the latter's turn to win. But does anyone really care?

December 14, 2007

The curler in the stamp

One of the many interests I have in connection with this sport of ours is postal history - curling in stamps, cancels/postmarks, first day covers, and assorted postal ephemera. The attractive stamp above was produced to mark the last Olympics by the Czech Republic.

I discovered yesterday who the figure depicted in the stamp is! The young man in the stamp is Krystof Chaloupek (below), just one of a group of Prague juniors who were photographed by the stamp's designer some years back when seeking inspiration for the stamp's design.

And what relevance is this to anything?

Krystof is in Scotland this weekend, with his team, to play in the Lockerbie Junior competition which begins today. Two Czech teams, one from Sweden and one from the Netherlands provide the opposition for Scotland's top junior sides.

Photo by Bob.

December 13, 2007

Peja Lindholm to retire is the 'sad news' from Sweden

One of the most colourful characters on the international curling scene, Sweden's Peja Lindholm, has decided to retire from competitive curling. Lindholm, a three times world champion, had put together a new team after the last Olympics. But a disappointing sixth-place finish, in his view, at the recent European Championships seems to have prompted his decision to give up now.

Swedish Curling Association Secretary Hakan Sundstrom confirmed the 'sad news'. It seems that Lindholm has said that there is too little time to develop his team into a successful Olympic team for Vancouver 2010.

Lindholm is also reported as saying that he has "lost his joy of competitive curling."

According to Sundstrom, Lindholm's teammates James Dryburgh, Viktor Kjäll and Anders Eriksson will take some time to try to find a qualified curler for their team or decide if they too will quit.

The photo of Peja is by Bob Cowan. Another photo of Peja is here.

December 11, 2007

Murdoch and Wood for Medicine Hat

With only a day at home to recover from their success at Fussen, David Murdoch and Kelly Wood set out today to represent Europe in the 2007 Continental Cup of Curling, presented by Monsanto, which begins on Thursday in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Kelly has her full team but Graeme Connall cannot make the trip. With Ewan MacDonald still recovering from knee surgery, the WCF, whose responsibility the event is, has helped line up Niklas Edin from Sweden, who won the World Junior Championship in 2004, to join the Murdoch four - a decision which has already caused some eyebrows to be raised.

The other European teams are skipped by Andy Kapp of Germany, Andreas Schwaller of Switzerland, Liudmila Privivkova of Russia, and Angelina Jensen of Denmark. The captain is Rhona Martin and Rodger Schmidt is the coach.

The competition format involves four disciplines within the sport, each worth a designated number of points: Team Games (72 points), Mixed Doubles (36 points), Singles (32 points) and Skins Games (260 points). The first side to score 201 points is the winner. Each member of the winning side will receive $2,000, while the losing side members will get $1,400 each from the $88,400 total purse.

There have been several format changes to the Con Cup this year, including the introduction of two Mixed Skins Games, worth 20 and 30 points, to complement the three separate men's and women's Skins Games, which are now worth 20, 30 and 55 points each. The Singles competition, which involves six basic curling shots, now requires each of the four members of the team to throw at least one of the shots. Formerly, one curler for each side threw all six shots. Mixed Doubles will now involve only a male and female thrower for each side, who may also sweep during the game. However, unlike past Cups no other sweepers will be provided. This brings the rules into line with those for the World event coming up at Vierumaki.

North America is represented by Kelly Scott, Glenn Howard, Randy Ferbey, Jennifer Jones, Todd Birr and Debbie McCormick. Pat Ryan is the captain and Elaine Dagg-Jackson is the coach.

Follow the results here.

Ludmila Privivkova also brings her team to Medicine Hat straight from Fussen.

Bob's pic.

December 10, 2007

Fussen Photo of the Year!

This is definitely the last Fussen pic. I wish I had taken this one! It is on the BBC website today as Scotland's Big Picture, and was taken by an Agence France-Presse photographer (sorry I don't know who). He/she deserves an award!

Now, altogether, "Scottish fans in the stands..."

Left-Right: ... ..... .... ....

Added at 13.30. One of the Scottish Curler team has just emailed me with suggestions for possible captions for this photo. "Blooming Scotland" was the winner! Thanks Hoggie!

December 09, 2007

Fleming team wins U-17 event at Lanarkshire rink

The second of the RCCC U-17 events of this season took place this weekend at the Lanarkshire Ice Rink, Hamilton. The Lanarkshire Slam, sponsored by Scottish Conveyancing Services, saw Colin Dick's team of Lauren Gray, Struan Wood and Grant Hardie match up against Hannah Fleming, Kimberley Smith, Alice Spence and Kirsten McNay in the High Road final. The Lockerbie girls overcame an early deficit to win 7-6.

L-R: Kirsten McNay, Alice Spence, Kimberley Smith and Hannah Fleming

Photo by Bob.

December 08, 2007

Fussen pics 17: Last memories of a great week

This could be a caption competition pic - Cze v Aut!

Memorable, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. The ECF AGM! Tommy Hinnigan casts the Scottish vote.

That's my boy!

Hungarian elegance.

Green umpires doing draw shot distances.

Dordi will likely want to forget this week.

THE team, here supporting the girls.

Now, I waited all week to post a wee tribute about England's Joan Reed (above left). This was her eleventh Euro Championship and she had said she planned to retire! This year she led and held the brush for Kirsty Balfour with her daughter Caroline and Claire Grimwood in the English team that won the B Division, and hence will play in A next year. I wonder if she might just put her retirement on hold!

Photos by Bob.

Fussen pics 16: Bringing you the championships

More than 2000 viewers were watching the first end of CurlTV's coverage of the men's final on their computers this morning, and listening to Luke Coley's commentatary. That's him in the pic.

A smile for the camera from behind a CurlTV camera!

David Smith and Richard Vaughan will provide the commentary to the deferred broadcast of the men's championship final from 07:30 to 09:00 Sunday, on Eurosport.

WCTV provided the Eurosport feed as usual, and technically excellent it was too, to judge by the coverage of the Women's final earlier today.

Pics by Bob.

Fussen Reports 23: It's GOLD - What a game!

Scotland met Norway in the final at the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships, Norway skipped by Thomas Ulsrud had come through the round robin and the playoff without a loss, a remarkable record winning 10 games in a row.

Scotland had faced a tie break and a playoff to be in this game.

David Murdoch and his team, Graeme Connal, Peter Smith and Euan Byers came out fighting, they wanted to win this game. They out played Norway in the early ends playing to score at least with last stone advantage. Two in the sixth and a single steal in the seventh gave them a lead of three shots.

Norway blanked the ninth but had to take one in the ninth, they were two shots adrift, Scotland ran them out of stones in the last end.

A great game with fabulous shot making, definitely one to remember for a long time.

Photo of the champions by Richard Gray. Report by Christine Stewart.

Fussen Reports 22: Scots have to settle for silver

Kelly Wood, Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood had won their way to the gold medal game at the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships. They played the mighty Sweden, skip Anette Norberg already had six European gold medals.

The Scotland team did not have a good game, they were not playing well enough to win this one. The end really started in the second end when Kelly was short with a draw to give Sweden two shots and a lead of three.

Scotland got the two back over ends three and four but Sweden went ahead again. The game was effectively over in the sixth, Sweden stole three shots when Kelly's last stone draw ran to the back of the house.

The Scots conceded on a score of 9/4 to Sweden after eight ends.

Sweden had the gold, Scotland silver and Denmark bronze.

The Czech Republic men and women won their second challenge games against Ireland and England, so the Czechs are safe in the World Championships.

Top: The European Champions from Sweden. Above: The Scots with their silver medals. L-R Hew Chalmers, Karen Addison, Lindsay Wood, Lorna Vevers, Jackie Lockhart and Kelly Wood.

Photos by Richard Gray. Report by Christine Stewart.

December 07, 2007

Fussen Reports 21: Men in the final

Scotland took on Denmark is their second playoff game at the Le Gruyere European Championships in Fussen, Germany, the prize for the winner was a place in the final, the loser would go home with the bronze medal.

The opening ends were close, Denmark did look like the stronger team, the scores were tied at two all after five. Then the Scots came on to a game, they stole a single in the sixth when the Danish skip's last stone drew to far. In the seventh Scotland lay three shots, the Danish skip's last stone was a fraction heavy, Scotland stole two.

In the eighth Denmark had to draw for one shot, Scotland led by two with just two ends to play. Scotland held last stone and built up a head in the ninth, David Murdoch with last stone had a draw for three, he made it for a score of three, Denmark conceded, Scotland are in the final.

This was a great team effort, the team looked confident, fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Report by Christine Stewart with photos by Richard Gray

Fussen Reports 20: In the final

Kelly Wood, Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood won their way to the final of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championship beating Denmark in the playoff game.

Mistakes by Denmark allowed Scotland to get ahead after just three end but the Danes came back to tie the score after five ends.

Scotland got ahead again by two in end six, then the Danes wobbled again. Scotland stole one in the seven when the Danish skip's attempted double didn't work, they stole again in end eight. Scotland lay four when the Danish skip came to play her last stone, she left Scotland counting one.

Denmark got two back in the ninth but Scotland ran them out of stones in the final end for the win 7/5.

They meet Sweden in tomorrow's final.

Report by Christine Stewart with photos by Richard Gray

Fussen Reports 19: In the medal zone

Both Scotland's teams are guaranteed at least a bronze medal after winning their first playoff games.

David Murdoch and his team had an easy game against Switzerland, they scored two in the first then stole four in end two when the Swiss skip hogged his stone. That was the game over, Switzerland got a three in end four but the Scots weren't going to let them back into the game, the Swiss conceded when Scotland took a two in the eighth, final score 9/4.

Kelly Wood and her team had beaten Switzerland in the last round robin game to finish ranked fourth, now they had to do it again. They grabbed the lead in end five when Kelly had a shot to score four and a three shot lead, a steal of one in the sixth put the lead to four. Switzerland cut the lead back with a two score in the ninth. In the final end Kelly had a hit for one shot and the game 9/6.

Norway beat Denmark for their place in the men's final, Scotland will play the Danes later today, the winnner goes to the final, the loser has a bronze medal.

In the women's championship Sweden beat Denmark to go to the final, as with the men Scotland play Denmark, if they win they're in the final.

Photo by Richard Gray

Fussen pics 15: Not the morning to be a Swiss supporter

Two losses to Scotland - enough to make you turn to drink!

Bob's pic.

December 06, 2007

Fussen Reports 18: In the playoffs

David Murdoch's team had finished the round robin tied with Germany and Sweden. Those two countries played off this afternoon, German skip Andi Kapp had a fabulous shot for a four to take the lead and hold on to it to win the game.

So tonight Scotland faced Germany for the last place in the playoffs. The teams matched each other shot for shot, Germany tied the game on five all in the eighth. That was the break Scotland needed, they blanked the ninth to hold on to last stone in the final end.

With David Murdoch's last stone to play, Germany lay one on the edge of the four foot, Scotland lay second and third shot on the front and back twelve. Murdoch could see half of the shot stone, he played a perfect tick out to lie two for game and a playoff spot.

Tomorrow they play Switzerland in the three/four playoff.

Photo by Richard Gray