I must admit that I enjoyed the Euro Qualifying Competition at Perth this weekend. There was some great curling, and, as so often, I came away with the realisation of how little can separate the winners and the losers.
It was interesting to see that the Olympic coaches, Derek Brown, David Hay and Nancy Murdoch, were present, watching carefully how their squad members were performing. All of the winning Murdoch team are in the Olympic squad, plus Warwick Smith and Craig Wilson who were also competing at Perth. Three of Kelly's team are in the women's squad (all but lead Lindsay Wood). The others not playing this weekend were Eve Muirhead, Karen Addison and Lynn Cameron. Karen was fifth player for the Wood team at the last Europeans, but Eve has got the call to go to O'vik as fifth player. Allan Hannah will be their coach.
David Hay will be the men's coach for the Europeans, and I think it is a great decision that they have chosen Graeme Connal to be their fifth player. He was in the team that won last year in Fussen, and did a sterling job substituting for Ewan MacDonald as he recovered from his knee surgery.
Now, if I have my facts right (and someone will be quick to tell me if I'm wrong) there will be no European qualifying competition next season. The final Olympic team selections will be made at the end of this season and these two teams will be our representatives at the 2009 European Championships in Aberdeen.
An important postscript to the qualifying competition. Edith Loudon and her team would have been very disappointed at getting so close. Especially as it was Edith last competitive event, after so many years. But a new, different, and just as challenging opportunity has opened up for her. The Royal Club have announced that she will be its new WCF Representative. She will attend her first World and European Meetings in December at the European Championships in Sweden.
The press release (here) quotes Edith as saying, “I am delighted that this role will give me the chance to continue my involvement with curling at the top level, I am looking forward to the challenges it will bring and hope I can bring the expertise that comes with my international playing experience gained over many years.”
Elsewhere in the curling world, the first WCT-e Junior Event was held in Oslo this weekend. Scotland's team which will try to get us back into the Worlds in the qualifying event in Taarnby in January had their first major competition of the season. Glen Muirhead's team lost three and won two. Kerr Drummond's side had the narrowest of losses in the quarterfinals to Mario Freiberger of Switzerland. But it was Graeme Black's team that did the best, finishing fourth, edged by Norway's Kristian Rolvsjord in the 3rd/4th playoff. Well done to them.
Our two junior women's teams both reached the semifinals but ended up contesting the 3rd/4th decider, Claire Hamilton defeating Hannah Fleming in an extra end. A good showing by our girls. The other results are here.
Just a PS about the first International Wheelchair event last week in Kinross, the final of which was contested by two Canadian sides and won on a draw shot decider by an inch by Jim Armstrong's Canadian team. The competition was deemed to have been a success and is to be a fixture in the calendar again next year!
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