January 30, 2009

First Minister on the ice at Murrayfield

Scottish curling teams at the World Wheelchair Championship, the World Junior Championships, the World Women's Championship and the Ford World Men's Championship will wear Homecoming logos on their uniforms. First Minister Alex Salmond was at Murrayfield today to announce the £21,000 Homecoming sponsorship deal.

The First Minister met Scottish and Canadian curlers at the conclusion of the Strathcona Cup tour. He said, "Scotland's year of Homecoming is all about celebrating our nation's contributions to the world and strengthening our global friendships. Today's funding will help out Scottish curlers to promise the hospitality of our nation, by sharing the Homecoming message."

Colin Grahamslaw, the Royal Club CEO, said, "We are delighted and honoured to receive this support from Homecoming Scotland, our teams are great ambassadors for the country and wearing the Homecoming brand will add to that role. We are pleased to play any part we can in encouraging people to come back to Scotland for a visit."

Homecoming Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative managed by EventScotland, the national events agency, in partnership with VisitScotland, the country's national tourism agency. The Homecoming programme of events includes the International Curling Camp which we've mentioned on the blog before here.

Top: First Minister Alex Salmond announces the Homecoming sponsorship.

The impressive Strathcona Cup was on show, and the First Minister congratulated the Canadian tourists on their victory over the home side. The history of the Strathcona Cup can be found here. All the results from 2009 are here.

Alex Salmond, proudly sporting the Royal Club pin, shares a joke with Canadians Denny Charlebois and Bruce Beveridge.

As the Canadians play their last (friendly) match at Murrayfield, Pete Smith (Team Murdoch second player, current Scottish and European champ) explains the intricacies of the free guard zone rule to the First Minister. (Other captions are available)

This is the First Minister checking out how keen the Murrayfield ice was this morning! A slight slip... but there was a good pair of hands to catch him. Who did they belong to?

The First Minister gets a cuddle from Pete Smith after his nearly very embarrassing bounce on the ice. Royal Club President Matt Murdoch, on right, rushes to help. I bet all the photographers would have loved to have got a pic of the leader flat on his back! Pete, you made your name today! Well done and thank you to Peter 'I-saved-the-First-Minister' Smith.

All pics by Bob.

Weekend in prospect

The second round of games in the Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship qualifying gets underway this evening (5 pm) at the Dewar's Rinks, Perth. The twenty teams are playing in two sections, with the top five in each qualifying for the finals, February 16-22. The position so far, with five of nine games played, is shown in the ladders above.

David Edwards' National Academy team look in the most danger of failing to get through in Section A (top)! You can find the results and linescores to date and who still has to play who on the Royal Club website here.

And at Kinross in the Columba Cream Scottish Ladies' Championsip, the eight teams have another round of games in their double round robin. After the first four games at Curl Aberdeen, every team had won at least one game, but no team had a perfect record. All to play for then at Kinross, where this weekend's games begin on Saturday morning. Follow the results here. There will be more round robin games, and tiebreakers if necessary, at Perth, February 17-20, before the final Page Playoffs, February 21-22.

January 29, 2009

February's Scottish Curler

The February Scottish Curler magazine has been printed and is on its way to subscribers today. The cover photo, by Richard Gray, is of Canada's Kevin Koe whose team won the Ramada Perth Masters early in January.

There are lots of pics in the magazine this month from Perth and also from Braehead where Jennifer Jones's team won the Glynhill Ladies' International. There's a 'well done' to Glen Muirhead and his team for securing a place for a Scottish junior men's side in Vancouver.

The Editor delves into Great Britain representation, and looks ahead to the first Youth Olympic Games at which curling will feature in 2012. Robin Copland and Dave Hibberd are their usual provocative and entertaining selves in 'Behind the Glass' and 'Hibby'!

Maryel has uncovered what the Royal Calaedonian Curling Club's Performance Committee does.

Curling Today, Sweepings, Curling World, Looking Back, the Historical Bit, the Extra End, the Caption Competition, Letters, and the Club News page are all there as usual!

Let me know if you enjoy the read... or if you don't!

January 28, 2009

Concorde Experience for Canadians

I was delighted to be invited to join the Canadian tourists on their visit today to the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, and to Glenkinchie Distillery, the day sponsored by East Lothian Council whose hospitality was much enjoyed.

For the record, on the ice, both groups of tourists who went North and South have given us a right 'doing' and the Strathcona Cup is now in Canadian hands with just a couple of counting matches still to play. Find all the results here.

Top: David Affleck (East Lothian Province Secretary, who organised the day) and Malcolm Patrick with some of the visitors, a model, and the 'real thing', Concorde Alpha Alpha.

Some of the visitors having the 'Concorde Experience'.

The Editor enjoyed his coffee and shortbread at the National Museum of Flight. Appropriate, what?

Pics by Bob.

January 26, 2009

Pay attention to the Ice Bowl this summer

Most will be aware that the Homecoming Scotland celebrations got underway this past weekend. And regular readers of Curling Today will be aware that some time ago I flagged up (here) that the Ice Bowl, Dumfries, was to host an international junior curling camp as one of the many events in the programme for the year.

I have been wondering how this was coming along. And I'm pleased to say that Judith McFarlane, the Royal Club's Development Manager, and local ACDO Graham Sloan, are well advanced with the plans which will be revealed soon. Watch this space! The dates are July 19-25, see here.

The junior camp is not the only thing that will be happening in the Ice Bowl this summer. Dumfries will host its first Summerspiel, see the poster below. This is open to any four curlers, and is NOT a junior only event. It will take place July 17-19, just before the International Junior Camp.

The rink at Dumfries also hosts an end of season junior event - the Dumfries Junior International - and that goes ahead April 3-5. It's a great event, and good fun too, from what I have seen these past couple of years. See some pics of last year here. If you want to play in this you should register your interest with Graham now, if you haven't already done so.

So, three events to look forward to at Dumfries!

January 25, 2009

Weekend update

There were three sections at Aberdeen, two with six teams and one with seven. How did they get the eight needed for the Scottish Junior Men's finals which go ahead at the Dewar's rinks in Perth, February 4-8?

What happened was this. The top two from each section qualified directly. This saw Glen Muirhead and Colin Howden come through from Section B and Jamie Dick and Michael Reid go forward from Section C. The two third placed teams in these sections played off against each other. Paul Russell matched up against Jay McWilliam. Russell won that game to qualify for the finals.

Section A, with seven teams, was more complicated. Graeme Black's side beat Kerr Drummond's National Academy team in the last round robin game, and that saw Black through, alongside John Penny. But there was a tie for third in the section, the last qualifying place, Stuart Templeton having lost his last game against Derrick Sloan.

Templeton and Drummond contested a tiebreaker. The former had won when the two teams had met on Thursday night, but it was the Drummond team which came through the deciding game.

I mentioned earlier about the BDO Classic in the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. Tom Brewster and his team played five games, won one, lost four. All the results are here. What a tough competition! Glenn Howard and Kevin Martin contested the final.

It is interesting to look at the playing stats which are put up by CurlingZone, who will be doing the Scottish Championships next month with the assistance of local volunteers.

Tom Brewster and Brad Gushue - photo courtesy of Anil Mungal/The Curling News. And if you like pics, there are lots more here.

January 24, 2009

Reflecting on junior curling

I wasn't able to get up to Curl Aberdeen this weekend where nineteen junior men's teams are playing off for eight places in the Scottish Junior Championship finals. I've been thinking about them, and following the results on the Royal Club's website here.

I was doing some tidying up yesterday (a rare but necessary activity) and found the programme (above) from the days when bank and bankers were not the swear words they are today, and we had respect for our financial institutions. The Bank of Scotland supported junior curling for many years. Who was playing in 1992, and are any of these young curlers still competing today? Some certainly are! See for yourself.

February 5-9, 1992, Galleon Centre, Kilmarnock. The Finalists were:

(1) Laren Gillespie (Atholl)
Andrew Penker
Alan Scott
John Brown

(2) Alan Smith (Galleon Centre)
David Mundell
Brian Smith
Andrew Smith

(3) Graham Cormack (Inverness)
Peter de Boer
Gordon Hay
Steven Rankin

(4) Chris Hunter (Gogar Park)
Stevie Still
Paul Westwood
James Graham

(5) Duncan Bertram (Letham Grange)
Simon Hartley
Warwick Smith
Ross Hepburn

(6) John Muir (Hamilton)
Paul Bowie
Robbie Stevenson
James Baird

(7) Allan Lyburn
William Lyburn
Colin Beckett
Fraser Hare

(8) Iain Powell (Brora)
Stuart Currie
Brian ferguson
Neil Kemp

And here are the girls' teams:

(1) Kirsty Addison (Greenacres)
Karen Addison
Joanna Pegg
Louise Wilkie

(2) Moira McConnell (Greenacres)
Gillian Howard
Mhairi Shanks
Kirsten MacFarlane

(3) Moira Hastings (Lockerbie)
Jan Byers
Angela Rae
Fiona McEwan

(4) Julia Ewart (Forfar)
Kirsty Hynd
Mhairi Ferguson
Rhona Caldwell

(5) Gillian Barr (Gogar Park)
Claire Milne
Janice Watt
Nikki Mauchline

(6) Catriona Weir (Gogar Park)
Joceline Hildrey
Helen Wright
Jenny Fountain

(7) Lindsay Kilpatrick (Greenacres)
Holly Pearson
Lindsay Hunter
Alison Wallace

(8) Fiona Brown (Greenacres)
Suzie Law
Julie-Anne MacGregor
Fiona MacFarlane

So, how many of the top juniors seventeen years ago are still curling today, even at club level, and how many are lost from the game?

I cannot find how many teams entered the preliminary rounds, but I do know that qualifying playdowns were held in four rinks. For the record, the Scottish Junior Men's title was won by the Allan Lyburn team who finished sixth (with Laren Gillespie as 5th player) in the World Juniors in Oberstdorf. The Scottish Junior Women's title was won by Gillian Barr and her team, who then went on to capture the World Junior Championship title (with Karen Addison as 5th)!

Comments and memories welcome!

January 23, 2009

National Curling Academy to be run by Kinross Curling Trust

It is three months since the announcement was made that Kinross is to be the home of the National Curling Academy. The Royal Club has posted a newsletter today, signed by the Kinross Curling Trust Subscribing Trustees, outlining progress. It is on the RCCC website here, but because of its importance, I'll post the full text here. That's the proposed site in the photo above, across the road from the Green Hotel.

"We are pleased to report the progress since the RCCC Board’s decision of 16 October that Kinross Curling Trust was its preferred partner for the NCA. We are delighted to have the opportunity to bring this new facility to Kinross which will not only secure the future of curling in Kinross but also give an opportunity to further develop the sport.

Unlike the current rink which is owned by the Montgomery Hotel Group, the new Rink will be owned by the Kinross Curling Trust whose membership will be made up of the curlers using the facility. A long term lease has been offered on the Market Park site opposite the Green Hotel and plans are being developed for a new 6 sheet facility.

A meeting with local curlers is planned for Thursday 5 February at the Windlestrae Hotel (8pm) to provide a further update on progress.

Kinross Curling Trust
A Solicitor is finalising the Trust’s Memorandum and Articles of Association prior to incorporation as a company limited by guarantee. The Trust will then seek recognition as a charity. The Charitable purposes are all related to the development of curling. The Trust’s Memorandum and Articles of Association will be placed on its web site in due course.

The Trust will have 3 Directors appointed by the RCCC and 6 members elected as Trustees at the AGM of the Trust by the local curlers who make up the membership of the Trust. The Trustees will have power to co-opt up to a further 3 Trustees. Until the first AGM of the Trust is held, 3 subscribing Trustees will manage the Trust and be responsible for procuring the facility. They are Jamie Montgomery, Bob Tait (Chairman of the RCCC Board) and Colin Grahamslaw (Chief Executive RCCC). It is expected that additional trustees will be co-opted as required until the first AGM.

The Facility
The facility is expected to comprise of 6 sheets of ice solely for curling, a reception area, changing facilities, stone storage, technical support areas and storage, a spectators’ lounge with bar and catering on the first floor, a fitness suite/ multi use space, the RCCC offices where 17 staff will re-locate from Edinburgh and Stirling and the RCCC Museum and meeting rooms. The building will be fully wheel chair accessible and it will meet the latest environmental standards. There have been discussions with representatives of key users/occupiers and the outcome of these will be reported to the subscribing Trustees and the Project Manager to inform design.

The facility will replace the existing curling rink in Kinross and will obviously be used mainly by local curlers. It is expected to be open for curling for 10 months of the year.

Sportscotland, the government’s national sports agency, has been involved in the development of the project which has already passed its first level of approval. The Sports Minister is supportive of the project.

Seven figure grant support is expected from sportscotland and both the RCCC and the RCCC Trust are expected to contribute towards the costs of the office and museum.

Other grants from sources such as the Energy Savings Trust, European Community and local charitable Trusts are also being actively pursued. It is expected that some commercial borrowing will be required though obviously the aim is to minimise this.

As well as funding from local charitable sources and enterprise bodies, funders will expect to see contributions from local curlers. Fund raising initiatives are being developed and a target will be put in place for local fund-raising but, in the meantime, the subscribing Trustees would be happy to discuss or receive pledges, donations and bequests and ideas for raising money. Obviously the more funding that is raised through donations etc., the lower the level of commercial borrowing that will be required. As an example at Curl Aberdeen, the only recent new build curling rink in Scotland, curlers contributed around £500,000 or 20 % of the cost meaning the project was completed without commercial debt.

For large donations, some commemorative plaque could be incorporated into the building or a room / space in the facility named after the donor. The RCCC Charitable Trust is already looking at how to recognise the £100,000 donation from Mr Bob Gardner towards the development of a museum of curling.

Project Manager/ Cost Planner
10 companies were invited to compete for this key post and 5 were interviewed. The Interview Panel has recommended its preferred company to the subscribing Trustees. If the recommendation is accepted contracts will be exchanged as soon as practicable after the Kinross Curling Trust has been incorporated. The company appointed will be accountable to the subscribing Trustees and will be responsible for finalising the design and procuring the facility on time and on budget.

The target is start on site during quarter 3 of 2009 with completion by August 2010. Delivery on this tight timescale will require early progress on all aspects although some are outwith the control of the subscribing Trustees, including funding and planning consent."

Pic by Bob

January 22, 2009

YARA Farmers Championship

The Yara Farmers Championship is the busiest week of the curling year for the Dewar's Rinks in Perth, bringing as it has done this week seventy-six teams together for the 26th year of the event. I managed a quick visit today.

Alan Wood, the competition organiser, has seen every one of the previous competitions. Today, he was even called on to play! You can find all the scores here. Hot from the press news is that there will be a new champion this season. The holders, Billy Henderson's team, are aiming this time for the Low Road title!

Robert Clark was in fine voice!

Have you ever wondered what happened to former Scottish Champion and Rhona Martin's Olympic Coach Russell Keiller? Here he is at Perth, although he does appear to have changed his name.

Willie Young

Alan Collett and Frank Forrest sweep Michael Sutherland's stone.

A YARA freebie which appeals to the Editor is this little sheep - it's a stress reliever, especially for the skip! You put it in your pocket and give it a squeeze or two when any of your team play off the brush. I think I've got that right?!

January 21, 2009

Brewster in Canada

How quickly the days go by when I'm trying to get the next Scottish Curler off to the printers. Anyway, that went up to the publishers today, and I have a moment to catch breath! So what's happening out there in the curling world?

Tom Brewster, Duncan Fernie, Ron Brewster and Colin Campbell are in Canada for the BDO Classic Canadian Open, the third Capital One Grand Slam, which gets underway tonight Wednesday) at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. This event has three sections of six teams. Teams have been allocated into sections based on their standing in the Capital One Order of Merit rankings as of December 15, 2008. (The number in brackets in the sections below denotes Order of Merit seeding)

Brewster, seeded 18, meets top seed Kevin Martin in their first game. It's quite a lineup!

Section A
(1) Kevin Martin (Edmonton), (6) Brad Gushue (St. John’s), (7) Thomas Ulsrud (Oslo, Norway), (12) Bob Ursel (Kelowna), (13) Greg McAulay (Richmond), (18) Tom Brewster (Aberdeen, Scotland)

Section B
(2) Glenn Howard (Coldwater), (5) Wayne Middaugh (Midland), (8) Kerry Burtnyk (Winnipeg), (11) Mike McEwen (Winnipeg), (14) Jean-Michel Ménard (Gatineau), (17) Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minnesota)

Section C
(3) Kevin Koe (Edmonton), (4) Randy Ferbey (Edmonton), (9) Pat Simmons (Davidson), (10) Jeff Stoughton (Winnipeg), (15) Joel Jordison (Moose Jaw), (16) Reid Carruthers (Winnipeg)

Follow the results here.

I did not get the opportunity to congratulate Graeme Black, Ally Fraser, Steven Mitchell and Thomas Sloan who finished second in the standings in the WCT-e Junior Tour. They reached the final of the Hamburg event last weekend, and have performed strongly all season.

Jennifer Dodds also lost in their final at Hamburg. Claire Hamilton and Hannah Fleming shared joint second place in the junior women's standings. The tour now has a website here. I wonder if it will go forward next year, or be consigned to history as a bold experiment that was ahead of its time? Certainly there's work to be done on a number of fronts!

The Scottish Junior Men's Championship qualifying rounds are at Aberdeen this weekend. Sadly, Curling Today won't be there, but all the results, as usual, will be on the Royal Club website here. Nineteen teams have to be whittled down to ten (oops - that should be eight!). There will be great curling. And the added reassurance too that there is now a place for Scotland in the World Junior Men's Championship in Vancouver in March. Thanks Glen and co!

The YARA Farmers' Championship is on this week at the Dewar's Rinks in Perth. Find the results here.

The Canadian tourists have the measure of the Scots and Scottish ice both north and south, and the Strathcona Cup seems to be heading for Canada! I enjoyed Mike Haggerty's piece here. Click here for the results to date. Scotland is doing better in Switzerland (see here)!

And since I've mentioned the Royal Club website, I note the member zone is soon to be announced. The look of the site was on display earlier this week (see below), although it is not online for real yet. A step forward for the Royal Club. Watch out for it, 'coming soon'.

January 18, 2009

Glynhill: The Final Day

Jennifer Jones, Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer and Dawn Askin won the Glynhill Ladies International at Braehead today, coming from 6-1 down against Binia Feltscher-Beeli's Swiss in the final.

The quarterfinals had matched the World Champions against the English. Kirsty Balfour and her team got off to a good start and were up 2-0 after three. But the strength of the Canadians came through and they moved on to meet Team GB. It had been Eve Muirhead, Jackie Lockhart, Karen Addison and Lorna Vevers who had beaten Liudmila Privivkova's Russians, but Kelly Wood replaced Karen for the game against the Canadians. Jones and co pulled away early to a 3-0 lead and ran out convincing winners.

On the other side of the draw, Binia Feltscher-Beeli, charged up from winning through after Saturday's tiebreak, had overwhelmed Cissi Ostlund's Swedes in the quarterfinals. Moe Meguro's Japanese side had made it through to the semis by beating Silvana Tirinzoni's Swiss. But different Swiss opponents were too strong for the Japanese on the day. Feltscher-Beeli's team were two up coming home and did not allow Moe to get the pair she needed. The Swiss were in the final.

Binia Feltscher-Beeli, Sandra Attinger, Sibille Buhlmann and Yvonne Schlunegger dominated the final match for five ends and looked to have the trophy in their grasp. But, just as they did last night against Gail Munro's team in the tiebreaker, the Canadians dug deep, got three back, then stole in seven and eight. In the extra end with the front blocked up and the Canadians lying two, the Swiss skip had to find a piece of the four foot, and she was inches heavy.

Find all the linescores here.

Top: Jennifer Jones, Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer and Dawn Askin with the International Curling Kettle.

Jennifer Jones

Pics by Bob.

January 17, 2009

Saturday roundup from Braehead

Here's Saturday's roundup from the Glynhill Ladies International. There were four sections, each with six teams. After five games, two would come through from each. Team GB, with Eve Muirhead skip this weekend, were top of Section A with four wins and one loss. Moe Meguro was in second place on ranking, with the same win-loss record, but having lost earlier to Eve and her team at an extra end.

Section B saw Silvana Tirinzoni on top with a 4-1 win-loss record. Jennifer Jones having gone down badly to the Swiss found herself in a tiebreak against Gail Munro, both these teams having lost two games. Gail romped away to a 6-1 lead after four ends, only to lose a big four then two singles against the head. They went into the last end one down with the hammer, tied the game after a measure. The Canadians came through in the extra end, Jones making a hit and stay with last stone.

Section C saw a team successfully scale new heights in qualifying for the playoff round as top of their section - Kirsty Balfour, Suzie Law, Caroline Reed and Claire Grimwood. Team England finished with just one loss. China's Bingyu Wang will have been disappointed with their results this weekend and they did not qualify. Mairi Milne and Binia Feltcher-Beeli were tied on three wins apiece. The Swiss had lost to Mairi on their last round robin game, to set up a rematch in a tiebreaker. The visitors ran out to 5-0 after four ends and the result in this one was never really in doubt, all over after six.

Section D was decided on the last round robin game. Cissi Ostlund's Swedes spoilt Liudmila's Privivkova's unbeaten run, to leave both as qualifiers, on four wins. Mirjam Ott's Euro Champs were the casualties of that section, failing to qualify for the quarterfinals, 08.00 Sunday morning. All the results are here.

Top: Jennifer Jones and Cathy Overton-Clapham discuss strategy in the tiebreak.

Mairi Milne's side ran out of steam in the tiebreaker against the Swiss.

Look here, all fifteen stones in play, with one Chinese stone to come!

Canada's Cathy Overton-Clapham getting worked up against Tirinzoni's Swiss.

And here's why!

China played today with Yin Liu skipping.

England's Claire Grimwood, Caroline Reed, Kirsty Balfour

Redhead of the Day - WUG's Sarah Macintyre

Anna Sloan skipped the EYOF team.

Russian of the Day - Anna Siderova

Team GB today. Eve Muirhead (skip) and Kelly Wood (3rd) in this afternoon's game.

England's Kirsty Balfour

Shopping is a big attraction for many of the teams playing at Braehead. Here's Nkeiruka Ezekh.

And showing her purchases to her team- at least I think that was what was happening!

Renfrewshire Provost Celia Lawson welcomed all the players.

Pics by Bob.

The big wheel at the Glynhill

The rumour is that the losing teams have to do three circuits on the 'Braehead Eye' (seen here at dawn) tomorrow!

Co-chairman Judith McFarlane takes her turn at the karaoke at the event dinner at the Glynhill last night!

Judith's fan club!

Japan's Anna Ohmiya explains why she always has such a lovely smile.

These girls have been working away. Three wins from their first three games - Linda Klimova's Czech Republic team.

But the biggest smiles at Braehead are Karina Toth's Austrian side - here at last night's dinner. Karina is left with Jacqueline, Jasmine and Constanze.

What do you mean, "Are there any pics of the curling?". Here are Katie Loudon and Claire Milne, who did not want to be reminded that they were run over by the English last night! You can find all the results here!

Russian photo of the day.

This for Lucy's fan club.

Today's caption competition is of the Chief Umpire at work.

So, who was wearing the kinky boots at the dinner last night? They reminded the Ed of his education in the 60s.

Marianne Neeleman it was. I know her dad! Anyway, she is 'Brunette of the Day!

Favourite curling pic from this morning. Kay Adams was skipping the WUG team.

Last of this batch is again from the dinner. WCF Vice President Kate Caithness discusses the finer points of the WCF Rulebook (Section 7, subsection 4, 3.ii) with Canada's Elaine Dagg-Jackson.

Pics by Bob