February 29, 2008

Ostersund Friday

Yes, I know I said that I wouldn't post anything until tomorrow, but I did get the opportunity to look in at the arena tonight, and enjoy Hakan Sundstrom's hospitality and organisation - the Swedish Curling Association General Secretary, well known to many Scottish curlers, is in charge of the media here at the World Junior Championships. I was able to gatecrash a press conference for the local media. Facing the questions was WCF President Les Harrison (above).

I asked him about the use of the Draw Shot Challenge (or Team Draw Shot Distance as I think it should be called for clarity) which is used to determine rankings and, in the World Wheelchair Championships, was used to decide who got relegated and who didn't, when teams finished in the relegation zone. No additional relegation games were played.

Is this going to be the case here at the World Juniors? Yes it is! Remember a couple of years ago in Korea, Sweden and Scotland finished tied in the rankings. Then, a relegation game was played. Scotland won, and stayed up. The Swedish girls lost, and had to try to prequalify. Hard, but fair. If this situation happens again, there will be no game. The team with the best TDSD will go up, the one with the poorer will go down.

"Surely this is not right, " I asked Harrison. The TDSD was not meant to decide such matters, carried out as it is right at the beginning of the event. But he would not be drawn on this, repeating only that the WCF member nation representatives had unanimously approved the new rules. Apparently only Sweden has written to the WCF office to ask that this rule be considered again. The RCCC has not. I believe they should, but as Harrison says, "That's your opinion." Anyhow, Harrison says that the WCF has no plans to reconsider the regulation.

Let's just hope that no team is relegated just on the basis of the Team Draw Shot Distance this year. I'll try and report when this is carried out and what the results are. Incidentally, the TDSDs are used to decide ranking at the top end of the table too, but no team there can fail to qualify for the playoffs without playing another game.

Right, that's enough of the politics. Here are the first pics from Ostersund.

Now this is a bit different. The green white and blue circles are the colours of Jamtland Province, where Ostersund is. The blue is for the lakes, the white the mountains and the green the forests. Any chance of a lobby to have tartan circles for the Europeans in Abedeen?

Some young curlers were on the ice, checking it out, in advance of the teams getting their first go tomorrow (Saturday). Most were from the Swedish Curling Academy in Harnosand.

I thought at first Warwick had gone back to school (the Curling Academy) in Sweden! But no. But can I just pose the question, "Why is Agnes Knochenhauer wearing Warwick's Scottish strip?" Did she buy it on eBay? Was it a gift? A charity auction? I may try to find out. Or I may not. Perhaps it would be better NOT to delve too deeply into such things.

The pic at the top of the page shows Cissi Ostlund and Oskar Eriksson with WCF President Les Harrison at the press conference. I show this other photo of Oscar and Cissi for the juniors who competed in the Globe Challenge at the Dumfries Ice Bowl last season, who will know that Oskar won that, and has gone on to great things, winning the Swedish Junior Championship this season. The team pic from Dumfries is here. (I wonder if Graham Sloan has a full entry for this year's event yet?)

Cissi's father Connie played in the Worlds in 1982 and 1984 and was runner-up in the Europeans in 1985. "Hi, Cissi, I knew your dad," just seemed to prove how quickly the years have gone by!

Real-time results from the World juniors will be available at www.curlingkanalen.se. The event host website is www.wjcc2008.org.

Pics by Bob

Henderson Bishop update

Thanks to Gordon Conacher for sending on this pic of the Henderson Bishop winners:
L-R Fiona Hardie, Lorna McMillan, Lyndsay Wilson, Gail Munro.

Ostersund: First post tomorrow! No moose sightings so far.

February 27, 2008

Monster hunting and moose cuddling

You know, it really has been a hard few weeks. There was the Scottish Junior Curling Championships, then the House of Bruar Senior Championships. Then last week was a very busy one with the Bruadar Scottish Championship and Columba Cream Gold League finals. And a small matter of getting the March Scottish Curler into print. That was completed today.

So, I'm going to have a holiday. I have been promising to visit friends in Sweden for some time now, so I'm going to see them next week. They live in a lovely part of Sweden, near Lake Storsjön in Sweden's northwestern Jämtland province. That's the lake which is reputed to be the home of Storsie, Nessie's sister. You can see the likeness in the pic below.

So what is there to do in the area, apart from monster hunting? Apparently one of the activities is 'moose cuddling' (photo here). I can't wait!

Anything else? It's a big area for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. And the biathlon world championships were held there recently.

There is an active curling community. When I was last there in the 80s I played at the curling club in the town of Ostersund. They have an arena too. Apparently there's some sort of big curling event taking place there next week. I'll probably look in and see what's happening. Anyway, if you want to keep up with the Editor's holiday meanderings, check the blog regularly. If only to see if I can persuade anyone to come moose cuddling with me!

Top photo of Ostersund by Bengt Ola Mattsson

L-R: Glen Muirhead, Scott Macleod, Scott Andrews, Gordon McDougall, David Reid and Gordon Muirhead

L-R: Eve Muirhead, Kerry Barr, Vicki Adams, Sarah Macintyre, Kay Adams and Isobel Hannen

Team pics are by Bob. The teams fly out to Sweden today, Wednesday, indeed, as I post this, they are in the air. The World Junior Curling Championships website is here. The monster with the curling stone is called Birger, I think. Anyway I'll probably find out on Saturday.

February 26, 2008

Curling in Atholl

Hello from the Atholl Curling Rink in Pitlochry! Competition for the Henderson Bishop trophy is well underway this week, and a few pics are posted below. The scores and standings can be found here.

The semifinals and finals of the high and low roads are on Thursday. Sadly, Curling Today will not be there. Sorry! Find out why tomorrow.

Photo above: From '101 things to do with a curling stone', we liked this floral arrangement in a hollow stone.

The Atholl rink is inside the shell of the old Pitlochry Festival theatre. This is the view from the cheap seats in the Upper Circle! That looks like Carolyn Hibberd delivering her stone for the Greenacres team. On second thoughts, it's not. Maggie Rutherford is a right-hander.

A wide range of ages are playing in this Ladies' Branch event. Here juniors Abi Brown and Rebecca Kesley look after Susan Kesley's stone, with Tina Weir in the house. Brenda Macintyre and Lynne Fraser (Inverness) look on.

Ena Smith will have played in one or two of these events over the years! Here she is sweeping Isobel Waddell's stone, with Margaret Robertson, for Marion MacDonald's Lanarkshire 2 team.

February 25, 2008

On the telly and on the ice

On the Box
I am looking forward to seeing the television coverage of yesterday's Scottish Championship finals. The Columba Cream Ladies' Gold League final will be broadcast tomorrow (Tuesday, February 26) at 11:20 pm, and the Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship final will air on Wednesday, February 27, also at 11.20 pm. Torchwood and Men's curling on the same night - now that's what I call a good evening's programming! Did I say it is on BBC 2 Scotland?

At the Rink
The Henderson Bishop Trophy is already underway today at the Atholl rink, Pitlochry. The recently crowned Columba Cream Champion Gail Munro is in the draw for the flagship RCCC Ladies' Branch event, a big occasion for the Pitlochry rink. The results will be found here.

The run up to the event has not been smooth for Ladies' Branch President Patricia Thomson. The defending champions, skipped by Margaret Morton, fielded an ineligible substitute in a preliminary round, an inadvertent and unfortunate mistake, and are not taking part in the finals this year. But no doubt, as in usual in this event, good fun will be enjoyed on and off the ice!

The pic of the camera at the Columba Cream final game is by Bob

February 24, 2008

Presentation pics

L-R Euan Byers, Peter Smith, Graeme Connal and David Murdoch - the Bruadar Scottish Men's Curling Champions 2008

L-R Gail Munro, Lyndsay Wilson, Karen Addison and Annie Laird - Columba Cream Gold League Champions 2008

David Murdoch presents the Rhona Martin sportsmanship award to Claire Hamilton

Gail Munro presents the Friendship trophy, the sportsmanship award, to David Ramsay

Pics by Bob

Finals Day: 2

The Bruadar Scottish Championship final: Murdoch v Smith. They had met twice before during the event. In the round robin, it had taken Murdoch, Graeme Connal, Peter Smith and Euan Byers an extra end to beat the Smith team, then in the Page 1-2 they took twelve ends before gaining their place in the final. Smith with Craig Wilson, David Smith and Ross Hepburn had bounced back in a semifinal win against Tom Brewster's side. The stage was set, the seats out beside the ice filling up, and the cameras rolling.

You will find the linescore here, and the shooting percentages here.

It was very definitely a case of, "Lights, Camera, Action!" (Sorry, just feeling a bit lyrical today!)

The game came alive in the third end, Smith played a triple, but Murdoch still counted two. In the third, Smith had a draw to the four for his single. He called for less ice from the far end, and promply caught the guard. Team Murdoch stole a single and were 3-0 up and in control.

At half time, the CurlingZone stats showed the Murdoch team average to be 89% against Smith 76%.

Smith stole in the sixth to level the score at 3-3. In the eighth, Warwick had another triple takeout to get his team out of trouble after a couple of misses, but Murdoch still got a two. Fighting with every stone Smith and his team tied it up in the ninth. Down the last, Murdoch was left with a draw to the eight foot to win, with shot against him. "Keep it clean was the cry!" And right on the button it finished. The European Champions are going to the Worlds in Grand Forks!

Top pic: Scottish Junior Champ Eve Muirhead piped the teams on to the ice.

The famous Scotch Cup, now the Scottish Men's Championship trophy.

Graeme Connal watches his skip's stone with Warwick and David Smith behind.

David Murdoch, Euan Byers with Peter Smith getting down.

Pics by Bob. Presentation photos later.

Finals Day 1

Kelly Wood, Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood, Scottish Champions and European Silver Medallists, faced their rivals Gail Munro, Lyndsay Wilson, Karen Addison and Annie Laird, who had got the better of them in the Page 1-2 game. But after defeating Edith Loudon's side in the repechage, Wood's side was back with a second chance to take the Columba Cream Scottish Championship title.

The linescore is here. The stats, courtesy of CurlingZone and Rhona Martin (statistician for today) are here.

It was a close game, 2-2 at the fifth end break, the Munro team ahead on shooting percentage with Gail outscoring Kelly.

In the ninth, Wood had the chance to put Munro under pressure with an draw behind cover to lie two. Despite her sweepers' best efforts it finished short of the rings. "Thank you," said Gail, blanked the end and headed home with the hammer, just one behind. The Munro team pulled out the stops in the 10th, and when Kelly could not make the across-the-house double, or even stay in shot position with her final takeout, Gail had a straightforward draw to the eight foot for the win. She was perfectly played! Vernon here we come!

Deserved? You have to say so. This is the fourth win in a row for the Munro team in recent matches. The stats tell the tale: Munro outshot Wood by twelve percentage points, and Lyndsay Wilson at 89% had an outstanding game.

Now for the men's final!

Kelly Wood with sweepers Lindsay Wood and Lorna Vevers.

Gail Munro mid delivery with Karen Addison and Annie Laird.

Supply a caption!

Photo top: An advertising hoarding for the event in the ASDA car park in Perth! Above: Jennifer Martin with Grant Hardie and Kyle Smith helping the TV crew get their angles correct! BBC will show an hour's programme on Tuesday, 11.20pm (that will be the women's final I think) and then again at the same time on Wednesday (the men?).

Pics by Bob.

February 23, 2008

Scottish semis

So, who's going to be the other finalists?

Kelly Wood and her team of Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood matched up against Mairi Milne, Edith Loudon, Katie Loudon and Judith Marshall. Not a lot between the teams as they went into the half time interval 3-3. A real guddddly eighth end saw Kelly pick up two and a 6-4 lead. It was enough. The Loudon team took a single in the ninth and when Mairi failed to get hidden with her last stone in the tenth, Kelly had a straightforward hit to win.

The linescore is here. It will be a rematch Wood v Munro in the televised Columba Cream final tomorrow morning, 10.30 am. Vernon beckons for the winners.

Tom Brewster, Hammy McMillan, Ron Brewster and Colin Campbell faced Warwick Smith, Craig Wilson, David Smith and Ross Hepburn. A high quality game as the CurlingZone stats showed. Cut to the eighth and Tom Brewster plays a draw to the button to save the end, and the score is 3-3, with Team Brewster ahead on the stats at this point. Then disaster. Tom's last hit in the ninth is overswept, Smith counts two (nearly three on a measure) and ran home two up clearing everything in sight.

The linescore is here. Murdoch v Smith for the tickets to Grand Forks tomorrow afternoon 2.30 pm.

Tonight's pics, by Bob, celebrate the hardworking front ends!

Ross Hepburn and Craig Wilson

Lindsay Wood and Lorna Vevers

Katie Loudon and Judith Marshall work hard on Mairi Milne's stone.

YOU supply the caption for this one of Ron Brewster and Colin Campbell.

Saturday selection

Yard of Ale provided the musical accompaniment to the Beer and Bites. Very good they were too, playing as they put it, 'a selection of songs from their abbatoir'!

Earlier in the day Ena Stevenson had her VICKS (Visually Impaired Curlers from Kinross) along to show us how it should be done. Impressive! That's Jim Gales in the hack.

The story is in a previous post. Dave Murdoch and Warwick Smith. How clever to have uniforms which match the sponsor's logo! And it was indeed 'a grand match'!

"Please sweep," asks Tom Brewster nicely.

Kathy Cameron measures up.

Kelly Wood on take off.

Face in the crowd. Recognise her? Tennis fans will. Judy Murray watched some of the curling today.

Happiest group in the rink to see the Muirhead team lose? The television crew - at least now they know that they will have a commentator for tomorrow! Bob Kelly.

Karen Addison, Gail Munro, Annie Laird

Duncan Fernie

RCCC Disability Curling Officer Sheila Swan models her small helping of stovies at the Beer and Bites.

Pics by Bob

Perth Page Playoffs

The Page 1-2 game in the Columba Cream Gold League matched Kelly Wood, Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood against Gail Munro, Lyndsay Wilson, Karen Addison and Annie Laird. The winner would go straight to the Final. The loser would meet Edith Loudon, Mairi Milne, Katie Loudon and Judith Marshall, the winner of that game providing the other finalist. So what happened?

The linescore is here. A close, hard fought game. Kelly drew to get her two in the seventh to go 6-5 ahead. But the eighth saw the Scottish Champion trying to freeze to prevent losing a big end. She came up short, in the open, and Gail was accurate in her takeout for a big three.

Wood kept the game alive with an accurate hit in the ninth, against four, and went into the last needing to steal. And she got her chance when Gail jammed her attempted clearance of a front stone. A draw behind the guard, with another stone on the wing, and that would have put the pressure on the Munro team. But Wood put her draw well through the house, and Gail had an easy takeout for a place in the final.

Wood now has to beat Loudon to get a chance of defending her title.

The Page 1-2 game in the Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship was a David Murdoch v Warwick Smith matchup, the winner straight into the final. The loser would play the winner of the Page 3-4. That game saw Tom Brewster up against Gordon Muirhead's side, the winners of last night's tiebreaker.

Going into the Page games, CurlingZone's cumulative stats showed that the best four men's teams had indeed made it to the playoffs. Not a lot separated the teams on their form over the week at Perth. Murdoch, Graeme Connal, Peter Smith and Euan Byers headed the table with a team average of 84%, with Team Smith 83%, Team Brewster 82%, and Team Muirhead 81%. Murdoch himself was the fourth player with the best shooting percentages. Would the stats provide a pointer to what would happen today?

Here's how I saw it.

Poor sweeping judgement had Warwick turning the air blue on his first stone in the fifth end, but he made a good draw with his second for a single to trail 2-3. Murdoch blanked the six and converted in the seventh for a two and a 5-2 lead. It should have been enough! But Smith counted one in the eighth and stole one in the ninth. One up coming home, Murdoch had the chance of the game with a four foot draw, with Smith's counter at the back of the four foot. He played a howler, too heavy, it slipped past and the game was in an extra end. Then, in the eleventh, Warwick played the perfect freeze, and Murdoch ..... cleared the house. Twelth end! Last stone. This time Murdoch has to clear away a nearly frozen Smith stone, and he did so perfectly. Murdoch and team were in the final!

The linescore is here.

In the Page 3-4, Duncan Fernie was making the shots for the Muirhead team and the game was 2-2 after eight. Muirhead was forced to take a single in the ninth, but Tom Brewster, Hammy McMillan, Ron Brewster and Colin Campbell played a great 10th end, counted three and the win.

Pics later! Royal Club's Beer and Bites Players' Reception now, you wouldn't want me to miss that, would you?

February 22, 2008

Tight tiebreaker

I thought it was the shot of the Championship so far. Third end of the Muirhead - Edwards tiebreaker. Fernie faced an Edwards shot behind cover. The one was straightforward. A two looked a possibility. But Fernie elected to play a hit, past a guard, and a roll to remove the hidden counter off the button, to count a big three.

The loyal fans - and those of us with nothing better to do of a Friday night - were treated to an excellent game. The linescore is here, and the shooting stats are here.

Edwards coolly drew the four foot with four lying against him to make the score four-four into the ....... eighth. Muirhead hit and stayed for one, and then the ninth was blanked. However, Edwards had a difficult hit around a perfectly played Fernie guard to take the game into an extra. It hung out, and just slipped past. Muirhead stole a single for the game.

You know, there are not many better ways of spending a Friday night than watching a great game of curling, with everything at stake. It's Muirhead though that's through to the Page 3-4 against Brewster tomorrow. This is your intrepid reporter, signing off, and heading for bed! Back tomorrow!

The pic of David Edwards acknowledging a good opposition shot is by Bob.

Then there were five!

It's all getting sorted out at the Bruadar Scottish Men's Curling Championship! David Murdoch will play Warwick Smith in the Page 1-2 tomorrow. Tom Brewster, ranked in third place, waits for the winner of a tiebreak (between Gordon Muirhead and Wallace oops David Edwards, tonight at 9pm - and yes I'll be here, must be mad) for the Page 3-4.

You'll find all the facts, figures, linescores, standings and links to all the stats on the RCCC website here. BTW the 200 year old team of Colin Hamilton, Mike Dick, David Ramsay and Trevor Dodds finished their campaign this week by taking Warwick Smith's team to an extra end!

Right here are the top five (in no special order):

David Murdoch

Warwick Smith

Tom Brewster

Duncan Fernie who plays last stones for Team Muirhead

David Edwards