December 31, 2008

Memories - good and bad - from 2008

I was fully intending to post a list of the various 'happenings' from this past year, the good and the bad of 2008, as seen by Curling Today. I must admit that I found this difficult to do. Highlights included moose hunting in Ostersund, seeing Scottish teams winning medals, learning that the National Curling Academy project is finally off and running ....... But when I started thinking about the bad, such as the Vernon saga, I had to stop. It is all so depressing. Then I realised I was just getting maudlin.

Maudlin is what many Scots get at this time of year! Most dictionaries have a couple of definitions:

a. tearfully emotional
b. foolishly sentimental because of drunkenness.

So, this Hogmanay, let's not look back but instead look to the future. I'm sure that today four young men, Glen Muirhead, Greg Drummond, Scott Macleod and Scott Andrews are doing just that. They are about to head off to the Taarnby rink in Copenhagen to try to win Scotland's place in the World Junior Curling Championships in Vancouver, March 5-15. You will remember the story. In Ostersund last season Scotland's junior men finished in ninth position at the World Juniors with a 2-7 win-loss record, and we were relegated (explained here).

Rather than have a playdown, the Royal Club decided to nominate Glen Muirhead's new season team, with three still eligible from Ostersund, to try get us back into the world junior top ten (see here). They will compete in the European Junior Curling Challenge, January 2-8. There are thirteen junior men's teams looking for two places at the Worlds in Vancouver. The Scots play in section A, with seven teams. Team Muirhead are up against Spain on Saturday evening, and then have the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia and Estonia, in that order. The top teams from Section A and section B (which has Poland, France, Italy, Belgium, Latvia and Finland) then play each other. The winner goes to Vancouver. The loser plays the winner of a match between the two second placed finishers in each section. The winner of this game also goes through.

There are eleven junior women's teams also fighting it out for two places. Scotland (the current world junior champs) already has a place in Vancouver. Anna Fowler's English team are challenging for the first time.

The event website (for results) is here.

Here they are at Lockerbie recently. Top: Scott Andrews and Scott Macleod. Above: Glen Muirhead and Greg Drummond. Pics by Bob.

Right, that's it for now. May I wish all Curling Today and Scottish Curler supporters health and happiness in 2009!

December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone

Curling Today is going off for a few days break this week. So, Merry Christmas everyone, and thank you for your support this year. We'll be back soon.

Before we go though, here's the Christmas post.

Greenacres Young Curlers held their Christmas Bonspiel last Saturday. With a full house, they played a four-end funspiel, with a panel of judges (a parent, a coach and the local Development Officer) observing how the participants performed. It was "Strictly Come Curling"!

The three judges (Bruno, Arlene and Len) were not always in agreement. One curler was awarded 10 points by one of them for agreeing with an umpire, but was given 0 points by another on the basis that no young curler would actually admit to agreeing with the umpire! One judge awarded 10 points for a perfect hit and roll, but only 5 by another who thought the curler was showing off! You get the idea.

Top style points went to one curler (George McConnell jnr) for wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Santa hat!

Heather and Claire were the Strictly Come Curling joint winners! But everyone was a winner for coming along and entering into the spirit of the event. Pics courtesy of Gordon McIntyre and Janice Howard.

Lastly some international news. The prize for the rink with the best Christmas spirit must go to Fenton's rink in Kent, where the first International Santa Curling Championships were held. And what a great way to raise the profile of the rink, and of curling down south. Here's the proof. Click HERE to see the video! Merry Christmas! Ho, ho ho!

December 21, 2008

Scottish Mixed Doubles Championship

It was a great day at Murrayfield today, culminating in Keith MacLennan and Vicky Sloan winning the Scottish Mixed Doubles title. That's RCCC President Matt Murdoch handing over the trophy, a new one presented by Colin Hamilton for this competition.

The winning pair were also the first winners to receive the RCCC medals, new this season for our major championships.

Keith on his way.

Great to see Vicky competing again! She and Keith will now represent Scotland at the World Mixed Doubles Championship in Cortina, April 18-26. They both have worn the saltire before, Keith at the World Junior Championship in 2003, and Vicky in 2003 and 2005.

Father and daughter combination David and Tasha Aitken contested the final. You can find all the linescores here. Also in the pic are the appreciative crowd and the chief umpire. (Actually a fair number did watch the final game from the comfort of the bar, and I'm sure, like me, enjoyed what they saw.)

This is one for the family album.

Bit of effort required on this one!

"Vicky, I wonder if the Editor appreciates the trouble we've gone to to get colour co-ordinated for this. We even match the stones!"

Alan Smith went out in the semi to the winners.

Who was Alan's partner? Yes, Sabina Kraupp! (Actually no, see below)

Yes, it was Karen Strang - they are both Scottish Mixed champions, of course. Actually, let's call this photo: 'Caption competition 1'.

David and Tasha's opposition in the semifinal had been this fearsome competitor, Lauren Gray...

and her 'laid back' brother Logan.

Caption competition 2

Caption competition 3

Pics by Bob.

December 18, 2008

Mixed Doubles Time

Now that the Curling Today blog has been going for more than a year, events are coming round which I have talked about before. Although it does seem like yesterday, it was in fact a full twelve months ago that the inaugural Scottish Mixed Doubles Championship was held at Murrayfield. The event was won by Kelly Wood and Logan Gray, as described here. That's Logan and Kelly in the photo above from the final last year.

A lot has happened in the interim. Kelly was not allowed to go to the World Championship in Vierumaki because of her other commitments representing Scotland, and Logan felt it the correct thing to do to pull out himself, rather than recruit another player with whom he had not competed before. Dillan Perras and Judith Carr, who had been runners-up in the championship, accepted the invitation to don the Scottish shirts in Finland. I was fortunate enough to be able to be there for part of the event and if you want a bit of nostalgia you can look back at the blog posts in March of this year.

I must say I enjoyed the format of this new game. Vierumaki turned me from a sceptic into a big fan! It has everything that pairs curling has, and more! I really do believe that the WCF has got it right, and that it could... just maybe.... become another Olympic curling discipline somewhere down the line. It needs a bit more publicity and positive PR though. It is only four months to the World Championship in Cortina, Italy, April 18-26. So, where's the event website? There's nothing. "Site coming Soon," it says on the WCF website. So is Christmas.

But hold on, what's this here? Something is happening in Italy, even if the WCF is keeping it a secret! The World Mixed Doubles is being considered as a test event for the Men's World Championship which will be held in Italy in 2010.

If I can just take a quote from the Italian website, "Mixed Doubles, a new formula in the curling scene, is a new discipline that made a successful début in 2008 with the World Championships at Vierumaki, in Finland, where the title was assigned to the Swiss team of Irene Scori and Toni Muller: a fresh and exhilarating competition that witnessed a challenge on the ice rink between giants of the curling world and new teams of the emerging nations. Technique, pure shotmaking and high-scoring action: these are the paradigms of a discipline capable of arousing and engaging the enthusiasm of the public."

Purple prose - I love it! (And I think that is the first time that the word 'paradigms' has appeared in this blog. We're moving upmarket!)

Has Canadian curling embraced mixed doubles curling this season? They did not last time, and sent two of their Mixed Championship winning team to the World MDs. That wasn't a great success. This season the CCA is again sending two of the winning Mixed Championship team to Cortina, but in the interim they are funding the two players (apparently) on a visit to watch the mixed doubles games at the Continental Cup which are being played, co-incidentally, as I'm writing this (see the results here).

Now, I believe I had a purpose when I began this blog, and it was to highlight the fact that the 2008 Scottish Mixed Doubles Championship gets underway tomorrow (Friday) at 4pm at Murrayfield. Logan Gray will be trying for another title, with his sister Lauren this time. The brother and sister meet a father and daughter combination, Jennifer Dodds and her dad Trevor, in their first game.

The results will be here on the Royal Club website, and Mike Haggerty's preview of the event is here.

I hope the fourteen pairings have fun, because, as I see it, it is an enjoyable, and skilful discipline. And if you would like to be 'aroused and engaged' then hold the Christmas shopping and get yourself along to Murrayfield this weekend. You can always buy your last minute gifts at the rink's shop!

More romance, that's what curling needs!! Mind you I doubt I'll get a photo like this at Murrayfield. This is what you do when you are waiting for the Canadians to decide what shot to play. That's Gyorgy Nagy and Ildiko Szekeres (yes, they're married) of Hungary in the background. And yes, they did beat the Canucks when they met in the round robin at Verumaki.

Pics by Bob.

December 17, 2008

Support Jim Taylor TODAY

Well, for wheelchair curler Jim Taylor (above at the National Pairs Championship), the big day has finally come round. Today, December 17, Jim will attempt to push a ton of granite over a mile of ice to support the Hearts and Heroes Challenge, run by the Sportsman's Charity, PoppyScotland, and Hearts and Balls (Scotland's rugby charity for disabled players).

It is thirty years since a rugby injury put Jim into a wheelchair. He says, "Please support to help others aspire to great achievements despite their disability." You can too. Jim has a page where you can donate safely online. Last time I looked he was nearing his target. Please help him do so here.

I hear too that Braehead has donated the ice for Jim's challenge free of charge. Way to go. Good luck Jim, and power to your arm this evening!

Other wheelchair curling news sees the announcement of Scotland's team which will take part in the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Vancouver, BC, February 21-28, 2009.

Michael McCreadie will be skip. With him will be his Braehead Club colleagues Aileen Neilson and Tom Killin. Jim Sellar of the Hamilton based South Lanarkshire Club and his (club) teammate Rosemary Lenton make up the curling quintet. Rosemary also curls for the Lockerbie Wheelchair Club.

Tom Pendreigh is the team coach, and has worked with the athletes at home and abroad. He is confident this team will compete effectively. Pendreigh says, “It is going to be tough for us with not just long term rivals like Norway and Canada, but new challengers like South Korea. The squad has shown huge commitment, and the Scottish wheelchair curlers will contest every end with vigour and skill.”

Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association Chairman Arthur Bell wishes the squad all success. He says, “I’ve curled with Jim and Rosemary for some years at club level, and know just how talented they are. Two years ago I had the privilege of curling under Michael’s leadership, and was stunned by his drive and skills. If we are going to pick up the World Championship it needs a team with something very special, and we all hope these five are the ones to do it."

The World Wheelchair Championship will be held in the new venue that is being constructed for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2010, the Vancouver Olympic Centre. Here's a video which shows how construction is progressing!

December 16, 2008

Off to the Con Cup

David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald and Euan Byers have had just one day at home after their successful Le Gruyere European Championship. Today (Tuesday) they set off to play in the Continental Cup which begins on Thursday in Camrose, Alberta. Murdoch will play for Team World - the opposition for the North American sides will include China's Bingyu Wang, the 2008 Ford World Women's silver medallist, and Fengchun Wang, fourth place finisher at the 2008 World men's, both of whom also won the recent Pacific Championships.

But who is Murdoch's fourth player? As none of the GB Squad, or Graeme Connal, are able to travel to Canada, Sweden's Niklas Edin has been brought in, just like last year (see here).

This year's Continental Cup will be played in the 2,300-seat EnCana Arena at the Edgeworth Centre, bringing together many of the world's finest curlers in the Ryder Cup-like event, which provides each member of the winning team with $2,000, while each losing team member gets $1,400.

Team World is strong. It includes all four finalists at the Le Gruyère European Championships in Örnsköldsvik as well as the Chinese.

The games start with the Women's team games on Thursday. Find the results online here.
The team lists for the 2008 Continental Cup, which is presented by Monsanto, are:

TEAM WORLD - Captain: Pål Trulsen, Coach: Peja Lindholm
Bingyu Wang, Yin Liu, Qingshuang Yue, Yan Zhou
Anette Norberg, Kajsa Bergström (replaces Eva Lund), Cathrine Lindahl, Anna Svärd
Mirjam Ott, Carmen Schäfer, Valeria Spälty, Janine Greiner

Fengchun Wang, Rui Liu, Xiaoming Xu, Jialiang Zang
Thomas Ulsrud, Torger Nergård, Christoffer Svae, Håvard Vad Petersson
David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Niklas Edin, Euan Byers

TEAM NORTH AMERICA - Captain: Russ Howard, Coach: Jim Waite
Jennifer Jones, Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer, Dawn Askin
Stefanie Lawton, Marliese Kasner, Teejay Surik (replaces Sherri Singler), Lana Vey
Debbie McCormick, Allison Pottinger, Nicole Joraanstad, Tracy Sachtjen (replaces Natalie Nicholson)

Kevin Koe (third stones), Blake MacDonald (fourth stones), Carter Rycroft, Nolan Thiessen
Kevin Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert
Craig Brown, Rich Ruohonen, John Dunlop, Peter Annis

Niklas Edin pic by Bob from the recent Edinburgh International.

December 15, 2008

Weekend wanderings

This was the first season of the McMillan Hotels' sponsorship of the Scottish Senior Mixed Championship at the Stranraer rink. Sixteen teams contested the finals.

After reaching the semi Bob Kelly's team were probably the favourites to go through against George Kirk and his team, but Bob turned his last takeout in, it caught the guard and Kirk was through. On the other sde of the draw, Sandy Nelson's team overwhelmed Jacqui Crawford's team with Gary Macfarlane throwing the last stones for the team.

In the final, Kirk, with Isabel Gillespie, John Gillespie and Alison Kirk took the initiative at the fourth end counting a three. They were three up without at the last. Sandy Nelson, Edna Nelson, Jimmy Johnson and Alice Johnson played the eighth well and Kirk was looking at two well hidden stones as he went to play his last. His well played takeout on swinging ice scraped past the guard and removed one of the Nelson counters, giving the Kirk team the title.

All the results are here.

Top L-R: George Kirk, Isabel Gillespie, John Gillespie and Alison Kirk with the Championship trophy which began its new life at Stranraer after a career at the already much missed Atholl rink. Pic by Bob. More pics from yesterday's Stranraer visit below.

Isabel Gillespie in charge in the final, as Edna and Sandy Nelson watch behind.

George Kirk and Sandy Nelson in the final.

George helping his front end with some sweeping in the semifinal against Bob Kelly's side.

Bob Kelly

The rest of Bob's team - Lesley Arrowsmith with Colin and Elaine Semple sweeping.

Sandy Nelson in festive pose!

Caption competition time: Jacqui Crawford.

Gary Macfarlane plays the game with such intensity. Great guy too - I have to say that as he probably won't think this is the most complimentary pic of him. But it is my favourite of the weekend!

Elsewhere, congratulations to Jamie Dick and his team for winning the Junior event at Lockerbie, defeating Kerr Drummond in the final. Eve Muirhead's team was skipped by Kay Adams and won the junior women's event, over Claire Hamilton's side.

Michael McCreadie's GB Paralympic Squad team reached the semifinal of the Richmond International Cashspiel in BC, Canada.

December 13, 2008

Saturday gallery

Here they are! European Champs Scotland L-R David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Peter Smith, Euan Byers, David Hay (coach), Graeme Connal (alternate). Photo by Hugh Stewart.

And Mirjam Ott's Switzerland with their gold medals in the women's event. Pic by Hugh Stewart.

This is the Finnish team which won the B Division and then earned their place in the World Championship at the expense of Sweden in a best of three series. Pic by Hugh Stewart.

Norway topped the women's B division and defeated England in the best of three to ensure that Norway would be in the lineup for the World Women's Championship in Korea later this season. Pic by Hugh Stewart.

Well done to the English women in defending their place in the A League for next season's Euros in Aberdeen. They lost at an extra end of the third game of their world challenge series against Norway, or they would have been going to Korea. L-R: Kirsty Balfour (skip), Caroline Reed (third), Claire Grimwood (second), Sarah McVey (lead) and Suzie Law (alternate) with Alistair Burns (coach) and Stephen Watt (coaching assistant). Pic by Hugh Stewart.

No, it's not a Woolies sale! It's everyone crowding in to the office at Lockerbie Ice Rink for the extra end of the men's final where it's showing on the desktop PC, thanks to the Eurosport player. Photo by Bob.

David Murdoch being interviewed by Christine Stewart after the game. Professional as ever.. David I mean!! Pic by Bob.

THAT'S MY BOY! Marion Murdoch (centre) watching David being interviewed. That's the Ed in the pic too, with RCCC coach Brad Askew, Hannah Fleming and Blair Fraser. Alistair Stevenson took the pic!

ECC2008: Report 23 Women final Swe v Sui

Sweden and Switzerland met in the final of the 2008 European Curling Championships. Anette Norberg, skip of the Swedish team, was aiming for her eighth European title, Switzerland's Mirjam Ott last won it in 1996.

This was a very tight game right from the start, with last stone Switzerland got a two score, Sweden could score only singles but in the fifth they tied the score at three all. Switzerland got one in the sixth, Sweden one in the eighth. Switzerland with last stone blanked the ninth to keep last stone.

Mirjam Ott made a takeout with her last stone in the tenth to win the game and the Championship 5/4.

Switzerland got gold, Sweden silver and Denmark bronze.

Finland beat Sweden in the men's challenge for the eighth world spot and Norway beat England in the women's.

Over and out from Sweden!

ECC2008: Report 22 Final Scotland beats Norway in Championship decider

It's finals day here in Ornskoldsvik and the sun is shining, who will it shine for in this game? Scotland against Norway, a repeat of the 2007 final, Scotland won that one, can they win this one?

Well in the early ends it looked as if it was going to be Norway, they dominated the first half of the games, Scotland were not quite making the shots, the hit and rolls didn't roll, and the draws were a fraction heavy or light.

The Scots looked better in the second half but trailed by two after nine ends, they had last stone for the tenth, they needed two to tie the game. And they got it thanks to a great double by David Murdoch with his last stone... an extra end.

Norway were hitting everything in sight in the extra but had left one short stone, Murdoch drew round it, it was just behind the T line. Thomas Ulsrud for Norway had a draw for the game and the Championship, he was a tiny bit heavy, Scotland, Euan Byers, Peter Smith, Ewan MacDonald and David Murdoch scored one shot for the gold medals.

And who knows the game might make the history books, it lasted all day, that's right the sun had just come up when it started at 11 am and was slipping below the horizon when it finished just after 2 pm!

December 12, 2008

ECC2008: Report 21 semi final women

So it's the women's semi final and it is Anette Norberg for Sweden against Denmark, there was a good crowd in the arena, Swedish of course, but they were making quite a noise.

The cognoscenti, and that includes me, had of course predicted game to Sweden in eight ends, how wrong can you be. Both teams were making mistakes in this game, Sweden more than Denmark. In the sixth Anette was heavy with her last stone, Denmark stole a single for a lead of two. Now in a Championship semi final that's quite a lead.

Denmark held on to that lead going into the ninth and that's when Sweden started playing, with last stone of the game Norberg made a great come around tap back for four shots and a two shot lead. That was enough, the Swedes removed all the Danish stones that came into play in the final end, Denmark got a single but Sweden won the game 8/7.

Tomorrow they meet Switzerland in the final.

ECC2008: Report 20 Scots win semifinal

David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Peter Smith and Euan Byers had made it through to the semi final to meet Germany. They had lost to Germany in the opening round but this was the semi final.

Team Murdoch looked up for game, Germany had last stone and blanked the first. In end two Scotland lay two shots, Andy Kapp for Germany was heavy with his last stone, it slipped to the back of the house, Scotland stole two.

Germany got two back in the fifth and the sixth end was the winning end, David Murdoch had a hit to lie two, the bonus came when he also managed to move a German stone about an inch, enough to lie three shots.

A mishit by Germany in the seventh allowed Scotland to steal a single. End eight, Andy Kapp played a hit with his last stone, he hit and rolled, Dor Borthwick stepped in to do the measure, Scotland lay shot and Germany conceded, final score 2/7.

Tomorrow Scotland meet Norway in a re run of the 2007 final.

Top: David Murdoch and Andy Kapp in the semifinal. Photo courtesy of the World Curling Federation.

A wee note of thanks from the Editor to two members of the Scottish Curler team who are in O'Vik. Here are Christine and Hugh Stewart at work on the media bench. Photo courtesy of Wim Neeleman. And well done to Team Murdoch! It was great being able to watch the semifinal on the Eurosport player.

December 11, 2008

ECC2008: Report 19 Playoffs men v Switzerland

Team Murdoch had won their way into the three/four playoff, lose this one and they were out, they met Switzerland. The Swiss weren't the strongest team on paper but had made it to this stage.

This was a one sided game, Scotland had the best of it all they way, they led by three after six ends, a steal of two in the seventh took that lead to five. Switzerland got a single in the eighth and conceded, Scotland won 6/2.

Norway beat Germany in the one/two play off so Scotland will play Germany for the second final spot.

In the women's Championship, Switzerland beat Sweden for a place in the final, Sweden now face Denmark who beat Germany, for the second final place.

England beat the Netherlands to take eighth spot in the league, they are safe in the A league for 2009 but now face a challenge for the World spot.

Athlete of the Year nomination

David Murdoch has been nominated by British Curling as Athlete of the Year.

The citation says, "David Murdoch is 30 and lives in Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire. David comes from a family with a long tradition in curling, he has been curling for twenty years. David has had a great curling career. He won his first title as World Junior Champion in 1995, he got another gold the following year but had to settle for silver in 1998.

He won the Scottish Men's Championship in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008. That took him to World Championships getting silver in 2005 and 2008, he won the gold medal in 2006. He has won the European Championships twice in 2003 and 2007.

David competed at the Olympic Games in 2006 taking fourth spot, he's aiming for Gold in 2010. David said, 'I have had a fantastic year winning the European Championships in 2007 and getting silver at the World Championship in 2008. I am looking forward to competing at the Olympics in Vancouver 2010.'"

The nominated athletes are invited to the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award Ceremony. David won’t be able to attend, as he’ll be on his way home from the European Curling Championship just before traveling to Canada for the Continental Cup.

The Athlete of the Year Award is encouraged by the British Olympic Association, and all the 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 results
from statistics from World and European Championships 2007/2008.

The photo of David Murdoch in O'Vik is by Hugh Stewart.

What's in store for the weekend?

Tommy Campbell and his Lanarkshire team will be trying for a fourth consecutive Senior Mixed title as that championship gets underway at Stranraer tomorrow (Friday). The event was postponed from earlier in the season, but there are still sixteen teams in the draw (here).

Lockerbie is the venue for the annual Junior Invitation competition. Juniors are also competing at Braehead in the Festive Cup. Just why junior events have to clash on the same weekend is a mystery to me - there are few enough opportunities for our young curlers to compete. But maybe I'm just being grumpy again!

Still, given the choice for seasonal good will, I would be headed south. Fenton's rink in Kent, which is England's only dedicated curling rink, is having the world's first Santa Claus Bonspiel, which will see twenty-four Santas on the ice. The event is in aid of local charity, Hospice in The Weald! See here.

Jingle Bells to you too.

Top: Tommy Campbell. Pic by Bob.

Scottish Curler cartoonist, the talented Ian Rodney of the Alternative CC, drew this Santa curling for the Christmas issue in 2004!

ECC2008: Report 18 Sco women v England

It's the last game of the round robin at the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, it's not getting any warmer here, though a few degrees better than yesterday's -14.

Now for the game report, Scotland play England in this round, they can't make the play offs, all that is at stake is pride and staying in the top eight, I'm joking about that, they're safely into the World Championship.

Scotland were the stronger team from the start, they had a six shot lead after six ends. They wobbled a bit in end eight, England's Kirsty Balfour had an open draw for three shots. But team Wood were back on target in the ninth scoring two shots for a score of 9/4, England conceded.

The final standings are: Switzerland first, Sweden second, Germany third, Denmark fourth, Italy fifth, Scotland sixth, Russia seventh, Netherlands and England tied at eighth, the Czech Republic tenth.

So Switzerland and Sweden play off, the winner goes to the final, Germany and Denmark play off, the winner will play the loser of the one/two game for the second final spot.

England and Netherlands will play off for the eighth spot, the winner will face a challenge for the World place by the B league winners, the loser is relegated to the B league for 2009.

Find all the results here

December 10, 2008

ECC2008: Report 17 Sco men v Ireland

There's not a lot to write about this game, the last round robin game. Ireland are heading for the B league whatever the outcome, Scotland are safe in the top four whatever the outcome.

So a short report, Scotland got five in end one, Ireland one in end two, Scotland five in end three. I'm sure you've got the picture. It was all over in six ends, final score 13/2.

Ireland will be in the B league for the 2009 Championships in Aberdeen. Scotland finished in third spot in the league, Germany is top, Norway second and Switzerland fourth. Germany play Norway, the winner goes to the final, Scotland play Switzerland, the winner to play the loser of the one/two game for the second final spot. Got that?

The rankings finished like this, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Sweden, Ireland, Spain. Sweden will be challenged by the B league winner for a place at the World Championship.

All the results can be found here.

ECC2008: Report 16 Sco women v Germany

It's game eight for the women at the European Championships, on a record of just four wins they need another one to have any chance of making the playoffs.

So this afternoon it was Germany, once again Eve Muirhead was in for Lorna Vevers. This game was tight all the way through, neither team could get any advantage, they were tied at six all after nine ends. But Germany held the all important last stone for the final end.

There were a lot of stones in the house, Scotland lay one. Andrea Schopp for Germany had a raised take out for a three score, she made the shot to win the game 9/6.

Sweden and Switzerland have six wins, Denmark, Germany and Italy five, Scotland and Russia four.

Scotland must win their game against England in the morning and hope two from Denmark, Germany and Italy lose to have a chance of a tie break.

Find all the results here.

ECC2008: Report 15 Sco men v France

I never enjoy watching Scotland play France, they are so unpredictable and can pull wins out of the hat at a moment's notice, so this was a hard morning.

France led from the start, they were three shots up after seven ends. Team Murdoch kept their cool, they blanked the eighth to hold on to last stone, it paid off they got two in the ninth, now all they had to do was steal one for an extra end or two for the game.

So we come to David Murdoch's last stone, Scotland lay one behind cover, what do you do? Well if you are David Murdoch you make the brave decision to draw in another shot. What's the worst that can happen? You get an extra end.

The great escape game plan worked, Thomas Dufour went for the draw, mind you he had to cover the centre hole to win, but could have cut it to one shot. He was heavy, Scotland got two for the game 6/5.

Germany has seven wins, Norway and Scotland six, Switzerland five, Scotland are safe in the playoffs.

December 09, 2008

ECC2008: Report 14 Sco women v Netherlands

After this morning's defeat Scotland badly needed a win in this game, there was a lineup change Eve Muirhead came in at two and Lorna Vevers sat this one out.

The opposition, the Netherlands on two wins, were just one win behind the Scots. But this game went Scotland's way from the first end, they put six shots on the board in the first three ends. The Netherlands put a couple on the board in ends four and five but the game was over. Netherlands conceded after eight ends, Scotland had their fourth win 10/3.

It doesn't seem that long ago that the Championship started but Scotland have just two games left, against Germany and England.

Sweden top the table with six wins, Switzerland have five, Germany, Denmark and Scotland are tied on four, Russia has three.

ECC2008: Report 13 Sco men v Denmark

Another win in this round would help the cause and keep team Murdoch on course for the playoffs.

They had the same idea in this game against Denmark, roaring into a lead of four in the first two ends. The trick was to hold on to that and they did it very well, the lead was still four after six.

The team looked much better today, they were making the shots in this game and came out the winners 7/4.

Germany and Norway have six wins, Scotland five, Switzerland four and Denmark, France, Sweden and the Czech Republic three.

Tomorrow the men play France and Ireland.

ECC2008: Report 12 Sco women v Italy

First the good news, the sun came up over Ornskoldsvik this morning, it's a beautiful day. Now the bad news. Scotland women against Italy in game six of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships.

What can I say? It was a game of two halves, Scotland stole four shots over ends three four and five for a four shot lead. Game over? Don't you believe it. A three to Italy in the sixth cut the lead to one shot. However Scotland did go into the final end with a two shot lead but without the last stone.

Poor shotmaking meant Italy lay three shots when Kelly Wood came to play her last stone, she opted for a freeze, in truth there was no other option, her stone didn't quite freeze, there was enough room for Diana Gaspari of Italy to remove the Scottish stone and lie four, game over 9/7 to Italy.

Sweden have five wins, Germany, Italy and Switzerland four, Russia, Scotland and Denmark are on three wins.

Anette Norberg IS human, she lost 13/4 in six ends to Germany.

December 08, 2008

ECC2008: Report 11 Sco men v Switzerland

Switzerland romped through their opening games without a loss, they're not a well known team outside Switzerland so that was a bit of a surprise. On three wins from five games Scotland needed to win this one.

And that's just what they did, got on with the job in hand and ground out a win. In the fourth they stole a single when Swiss skip Stefan Karnusian was heavy, that gave team Murdoch a two shot lead. The whole team were playing more steadily than some earlier games, two in the eighth took their lead to three shots.

Switzerland took a shot in the ninth, Scotland led by two and had last stone for the final end. Switzerland lay one when Karnusian played his last stone, once again he was heavy, slipping through the house, David Murdoch didn't have to play his last stone, Scotland won 6/5.

Germany and Norway are on five wins, Switzerland and Scotland on four, Denmark on three, Sweden and the Czech Republic on two.

ECC2008: Report 10 Sco women v Denmark

Game five for Scotland's women at the European Curling Championships and they need a win here to stay in contention. In this game they met Denmark, on the same record two wins and two losses.

Scotland had the last stone but Denmark stole four shots over the opening three ends. Scotland then came on to a game scoring six shots over ends four, five, six and seven. Denmark got one back in end eight. In the ninth Kelly Wood faced a difficult shot, a triple raise, she made the shot to score three to take the score to 9/5 in Scotland's favour.

That was too much for Denmark, they conceded.

Sweden lead the table undefeated on five wins from five games, Germany who lost to Italy tonight are on three wins along with Italy, who beat Germany, Russia, Scotland and Switzerland who had a tough game against the Czech Republic.

Tomorrow the Scots meet Italy and the Netherlands.

ECC2008: Report 9 Sco men v Sweden

On two wins from four Team Murdoch badly needed to win this game against home country Sweden also on two wins. The team came out firing on all cylinders blanking the first end and then Murdoch had a take out for a big three at the second. Sweden came back with two in the third when Murdoch's tap up went wrong.

But it was Scotland's game for the remaining ends, a two in the fourth took the score to 5/2. The Scots lay two in the five, Sweden tried a draw but caught on the front counter, Scotland stole two for a five shot lead. Sweden managed a single in the sixth, Scotland got that back in the seventh. Sweden conceded after taking one in the eighth, final score 8/4 to Scotland.

Standings after five games, Switzerland on four, they lost to France, Germany and Norway also on four, France, Scotland on three.

The Czech Republic got their first win beating Ireland 6/3.

ECC2008: Report 8 Sco women v Switzerland

Scotland on two wins met Switzerland on one win in draw four, both countries needed a win here, it's getting pretty close to the halfway point and a number of teams are fighting to climb the table.

This was nearly a game of two halves, Switzerland had the best of the first half up by four shots after six ends. Who knows what happened, perhaps Scotland woke up, in the seventh Kelly Wood had a draw for two, end eight Scotland lay one, Mirjam Ott for Switzerland had an open tap back for a three score and probably the game, she was too heavy and missed, Scotland stole one to trail by one.

In the ninth Switzerland faced two Scottish stones, Ott drew for one, the lead was now two. Switzerland didn't give Scotland any chances in the final end, Ott with her last stone removed a lonely Scottish counter, Scotland couldn't win or tie the game so shook hands, Switzerland scored one for the game 7/4.

Sweden lead with four wins, Germany has three and six teams, Italy, Netherlands, Scotland, Denmark, Russia and Switzerland are tied on two. Tonight Scotland meet Denmark.

December 07, 2008

U-17 Slam winds up in Hamilton

The last of the four U-17 events which make up the Slam was held at the Lanarkshire Ice Rink this weekend. The winners of the Hamilton competition which was sponsored by Scottish Conveyancing Services were Jennifer Dodds, Tasha Aitken, Abi Brown and Mhairi Baird.

Jennifer and her team got past Scott Fraser, Jamie Fraser, John Fraser and Scott Fraser in the semifinal to meet Hammy McMillan, Rori Macpherson, Andi Locke and Hamish McGeoch in the final. McMillan's team had beaten Blair Fraser, Thomas Sloan, Hannah Fleming and Becca Kesley in the semi - although this team are the overall Slam winners with successes at Perth and Lockerbie.

The final was a well played tight game. It was tied after eight ends. It should have been Hammy's victory, with chances at two extra ends. At the ninth he hit and ran, and at the tenth his tap back just drew off line and slipped through, allowing the Dodds' team to steal the Hamilton trophy. They were also the highest up female rink in the Slam series.

The scores are here.

Top: Winners at Hamilton. L-R Mhairi Baird, Abi Brown, John Carson (representing the sponsor), Jennifer Dodds and Tasha Aitken.

Jennifer Dodds

Tasha Aitken, here in the semifinal suggesting that her stone might need some gentle sweeping!

Mairi Baird and Abi Brown look after their skip's stone in the final.

Hammy delivers with front end Andi Locke and Hamish McGeoch in the final.

Hammy McMillan

The overall U-17 Slam winners: Rebecca Kesley, Hannah Fleming, Thomas Sloan (who plays the fourth stones) and skip Blair Fraser.

Pics by Bob.

Elsewhere this weekend, Coldstream beat Corstorphine by one end in the inaugural Double Rink Championship final at Stranraer. Kilsyth CC and Currie and Balerno were the losing semifinalists. The linescores are here. And Colin Hamilton's report is here.

Glen Muirhead, Craig Reid, Neil Joss, Dillan Perras, Ian Watt and Angus Robertson were the six teams who came out of the prequalifier at Curl Aberdeen for the next rounds of the Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship. Find the scores here.