February 28, 2009

European Championships in Aberdeen

There's not been a lot of publicity yet for the next European Curling Championships which will be held in Aberdeen, December 4-12. There is a link now from the European Curling Federation's website to the Aberdeen event's site here, where you can download a season ticket application form, and details of how to be a volunteer.

I had the opportunity to talk briefly to George Esson, the chaiman of the local organising committee, last week. He confirms that arrangements are forging ahead on all fronts, and that Aberdeen will host a successful Championships.

Curling Today can reveal that the Linx Arena, on the beach front, is now being considered as the venue for the A Division games. Originally, these were going to be in the new Curl Aberdeen facility in Eday Walk, off the Lang Stracht, with the B Division in the Linx. However, in the current economic situation, the costs of putting in temporary seating, with provision of a marquee to provide additional space for spectators to meet and mingle, have increased. The Linx Arena, on the beach front, already has seating. This arena is currently closed for refurbishment (see the story here), but Esson has no doubt that it will be ready in time for the Championships.

ECF President Andrew Ferguson-Smith and representatives from WCTV, who will provide the television feed from the event, visited Aberdeen last week and have concluded that both venues could be successfully covered from a TV point of view. Esson's team are now looking at the cost implications and a decision on what will be held where is expected soon. Watch this space!

Pics by Bob

February 27, 2009

Scotland's wheels avoid relegation

Scotland has finished in fifth place at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Vancouver. Aileen Neilson, Michael McCreadie, Tom Killin and Jim Sellar beat Norway in a tiebreaker. Mike Haggerty's game report is here. All the results and stats are here, by Curlit. For more insight from someone who knows the game backwards, check out Eric Eales' wheelchair curling blog.

Last year, the rules in place were that ties in ranking for relegation would be determined by the pre-event draw shot challenge. Japan were relegated by the smallest of margins, blatantly unfair. The WCF rules were changed, a result I reported in a blog post in which I was able to use the famous Vulcan quotation by T'Plana-Hath, see here! (A blog highlight of 2008 to enjoy and treasure)

Now, no team can be relegated except by losing a match. As it should be. And of course in Vancouver this year no fewer than five teams ended with 5-4 records! Just the situation that the use of DSC ranking was trying to avoid. China, Italy, Korea, Norway and Scotland were involved in a three-level series of tiebreak games to determine who would be in ninth place and join Switzerland, who finished bottom of the table, in the qualifying tournament for the World Championship in 2011. There is no World Championship in 2010 as this is a Paralympics year.

Scotland's win over Norway has secured our place at the Wheelchair Worlds in 2011. Tiebreaks continue today, Korea v China and Italy v Norway, and the losers then play to avoid ninth place. Scotland's Ian Addison is chief umpire - he will have had the job of sorting this all out!

Aileen Neilson, seen here in Yadranka McAulay's photo, has assumed the role of Scotland's skip.

Harbin update, updated, update

Sarah Reid's team missed out on the medals at the World University Games. The GB curlers lost to Canada in the semis, and to Russia in the bronze medal playoffs. Bingyu Wang's Chinese side beat the Canadians to take the gold.

The GB team was 5-1 up against the Canadians after five only to lose 7-5 to Nicole Hollie's side. Liudmila Privivkova's Russian team were 8-4 winners over GB.

In the men's event, Niklas Edin's Sweden beat Thomas Lovold's Norway in an extra end in the final. China won bronze over Korea.

There's a Canadian take on the women's semifinal and other aspects of the Harbin event here. I note that this blogger ventures to suggest that Liudmila Privivkova looks 'extremely burnt out'! Now, apart from the anguish that such a comment gives to all the members of Lucy's fan club, she obviously still had enough of a spark to beat the GB team.

And who is this blogger that is giving his opinions? None other than the Canadian Curling Association National Development Coach, Paul Webster! Now, is it just me, or is this not a brilliant innovation? National coaches having time/being encouraged to blog. I'm globsmacked. Would it not be great if Scotland's National Coach could put up a blog post every day from the World events? Or the GB team coaches could do it all next year. Perhaps twitter accounts would be better? No, more depth on a blog. Let's have womenscurlingGBcoach.blogspot.com, or davehayscurlinginsights.blogspot.com, or Rhonasrocks.blogspot.com, or delboyatGangneung.blogspot.com. Then we could get an insight into what they are thinking.

Sorry, forgot to take my medication.

February 26, 2009

Team Munro retains Henderson Bishop trophy

Some days things go better than expected - not too often in the life of the Editor, it has to be said - but today worked out well. I signed off on the final proofs of the March Scottish Curler by lunchtime in Dunfermline and realised that, given an open road and a following wind, my wee Almera could probably get me to Kelso in time to see most of the Henderson Bishop final. And it did.

Border Ice Rink hospitality was at its best, it had obviously been a great week for the women's premier competition, and there was a big crowd of fans in the Kelso four-sheeter for the High and Low Road finals. Both were great games to watch, and well worth the effort in getting there.

Gail Munro's team, the defending champions, were in the final again. Unfortunately, Lorna McMillan had had to return home due to a family illness, and Gail, Lyndsay Wilson and Fiona Hardie had recruited a local lass, Lorna Shaw, to play with them for their last three games in the event. Fourteen-year old Lorna played her heart out... and became the youngest competitor ever to get her name on the Henderson Bishop trophy!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Stranraer team was against the local foursome of June Swan, Glynnice Lauder, Gillian Smith and Myra Thomson. They were 2-2 after four, 3-3 after six, and still tied at 5-5 after eight, as you can see on the linescore here (with all the other results too). The ninth end proved to be the decisive one, the Stranraer team exerted the pressure, the Kelso side could not respond and Gail was sitting with three shots in the house when she went to play her last. She wiggled in another and four went up on the board. They kept the last end clean to run their opposition out of stones.

Above: Sheila Miller, President of the RCCC Ladies Branch, presents the Henderson Bishop trophy to Gail Munro, Lyndsay Wilson, Fiona Hardie and Lorna Shaw. The photo is a joint effort between Jim Buchanan and Bob (Jim's camera, Bob pressed the button, Jim forwarded the end result. Thanks Jim).

We don't usually say too much about event Low Roads, but today's Cherrystone final between Lisa Mackellaich, Morven Bridges, Abie Brodie and Wee Barras (above, Inverness), and Jean Robertson, Pat Keith, Susan Scougal and Angela Wilcox (Kirkcaldy) was a great game too. (I only saw two games from the whole week, so I really have to mention it!) The Inverness girls stole a three at the fifth to gain the advantage, but there was only a shot in it playing the tenth. Lisa chipped away a Kirkcaldy counter for the win with her last stone. As a fan of wee curling stones, I have to say how much I admired the individual prizes, handcrafted locally. The pic above is again a Bob-Jim co-production!

February 25, 2009

Scottish Curler Future

The March 2009 Scottish Curler is now being printed. It contains the following statement:

"The publishers of the Scottish Curler, Clyde and Forth Press, are looking at the options for the future of the magazine and they are discussing these with the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.

After seven years as Editor, Bob Cowan will retire at the end of this season.

There will be further news for readers in the April Scottish Curler with information regarding current and future subscriptions."

The final print issue will be the May edition. Hopefully the title will continue in a different form. The first Scottish Curler was published in January 1954.

There will be a thread on the Scottish Curling Forum for comment and questions. This blog, which exists to support and promote the printed magazine, will be run down over the next few weeks.

GB in semis in Harbin

I don't have more than the bare result, but I was pleased to note this morning that Sarah Reid, Kay Adams, Vicki Adams and Sarah Macintyre, representing GB, have made it through to the semifinals of the World University Games in Harbin, China. They came back from a 5-1 deficit against Sarka Doudova's Czech Republic team to win 8-5. They will meet the undefeated Canadians in the semifinal tomorrow.

February 24, 2009

Fifth players for the World Championships

Jackie Lockhart will be the fifth player for Eve Muirhead's team at the World Women's Curling Championship in Gangneung, Korea, March 21-29. The event website is here.

Graeme Connal will again be the fifth player for the Murdoch team at the Ford World Men's Championship in Moncton, New Brunswick, April 4-12. The event website is here.

Furth of Skip Cottage

Having enjoyed a great week's curl watching, taking pics and blogging from Perth, being shackled to the computer this week is hard! But the March 'Championships Issue' of the Scottish Curler is just about ready to go to print.

But curling is continuing out there. Our teams at the Winter Universiade in Harbin have had a difficult time, looking at the results. But Sarah Reid's team are still fighting. They finished the round robin on five wins and four losses, jointly fourth in the ranking. They now have a tiebreaker against the Czech Republic to get into the playoffs. That will be tomorrow. Canada, China and Russia are the top three.

John Hamilton's team have three wins, having played eight of their nine round robin games, and cannot make the playoffs.

I've been following the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Vancouver, online here. The playing stats are interesting. I note that Aileen Neilson is throwing last stones now. Mike Haggerty will now be in Vancouver, and his reports will be on the Royal Club website here.

I'm sorry not to be able to get over to the Border ice Rink, Kelso, this week where the Henderson Bishop trophy is being contested, the premier event in the Ladies' Branch calendar. The results are here.

Top: The GB girls who are at the WUG in China. L-R: Sarah Macintyre, Vicki Adams, Sarah Reid, Kay Adams, Laura Kirkpatrick. Photo by Hugh Stewart.

February 23, 2009

Scotland's wheels in Vancouver

Michael McCreadie's team have won one and lost two at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Vancouver. You can find all the results here, and the WCF reports here.

Michael McCreadie's pic is by Dallas Bittle, courtesy the WCF

February 22, 2009

Salute the champions

Back L-R: David Hay (coach), Euan Byers, Pete Smith, Ewan MacDonald, David Murdoch
Front: Anne Laird, Rachael Simms, Karen Addison, Eve Muirhead, Isobel Hannen (coach)

The winners of the Bruadar Scottish Men's and the Columba Cream Scottish Ladies' Championships.

Pic by Bob.

The Men's Final

Tom Brewster, David Murdoch

Tom Brewster and Duncan Fernie

As in the women's event, the Bruadar Championship game was a rematch of the yesterday's Page 1-2 encounter. David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Peter Smith, Euan Byers were the holders. Tom Brewster, Duncan Fernie, Ron Brewster, Colin Campbell is a new lineup this season, although Tom has the reputation of always being there or thereabouts, but never winning the big one.

There was little to separate the teams. Murdoch engineered a two at the fourth and Brewster responded with a pair of his own in the fifth. After six ends, the score was 3-2 to Brewster. End seven was an aggressive end by both teams - two timeouts, lots of discussions. Murdoch played a key last stone, a brave one which could have been disastrous had it gone wrong, to get a two and take the initiative. Real class! David and his team then stole in the eighth after a measure - this game comes down to millimetres so often. That put them two up. Brewster blanked the ninth.

There was not a lot for Brewster to hide behind as the tenth end progressed. Coach Gordon Muirhead was called in on a timeout and Duncan Fernie had two attempts to hide behind a Murdoch stone at the top of the four foot. One was wide (and was quickly removed by Ewan MacDonald), the other just ticked it and lay open. It was removed too.

Two stones to go, and Brewster put the first of these half behind the Murdoch stone right at the back of the house. Murdoch's removal team then did the job expected and David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Peter Smith, Euan Byers, the European Champions, were the Bruadar Scottish Champions, and will be our representatives in Moncton at the Worlds. Great game, well done to both teams!

More pics later.

Find all the linescores and stats here.
Ewan MacDonald

Euan Byers and Pete Smith

Duncan Fernie and Colin Campbell

The contestants: L-R David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Peter Smith, Euan Byers, Tom Brewster, Duncan Fernie, Ron Brewster, Colin Campbell.

Gillie McNab did the honours for the teams at Perth today.

The Women's Final

The gladiators enter the arena.

The Columba Cream Scottish Ladies Curling Championship title was on the line as Kelly Wood, Jackie Lockhart, Lorna Vevers and Lindsay Wood matched up against Eve Muirhead, Karen Addison, Rachael Simms and Anne Laird, in a repeat of the Page 1-2 game.

Wood elected to choose the stones rather than to go with last stone advantage in the first end, but got the first shot on the board anyway as Muirhead missed with her last stone in trying to blank the end.

Not a lot went right for the Muirhead team in the fifth and Eve was facing six Wood stones when she went to throw her first. She removed three, but was looking at four opposion counters when she went to play her last of the end. She drew perfectly to the four foot for shot. The score 3-3 at the break.

Wood faced the pressure too in the eighth, drawing to the tee with her last stone with a bundle of Muirhead counters facing her.

The break for Muirhead came in the ninth, a count of two giving her team a 7-5 lead coming home. A double takeout by the Junior Champion skip on her first, saw off much of the danger. Then when Wood failed to freeze perfectly, Muirhead had a straightforward clearance for the game. Eve Muirhead, Karen Addison, Rachael Simms and Anne Laird are the champs, and bound now for Korea!

Linescores and playing stats are here.

Top: Kelly Wood and Eve Muirhead

Rachael Simms, Karen Addison, Anne Laird

Jackie Lockhart in the head for skip Kelly Wood's stone.

Rachael and Anne sweep their skip's draw for two in the eighth.

Eve Muirhead

Team Wood timeout in the last end.

This was the photo we were going to use if Eve had lost! She's pondering how her team got in to such difficulties in the fifth!

L-R: Annie Laird, Rachael Simms, Karen Addison, Eve Muirhead, Lindsay Wood, Lorna Vevers, Jackie Lockhart and Kelly Wood.

Pics by Bob.

February 21, 2009

Perth update

Right, where are we? We missed the Page 1-2, which was won by Kelly Wood's team after Eve Muirhead was a couple of inches heavy with her last stone for the game. That put Eve, Karen Addison, Rachael Simms and Anne Laird in the semi with Claire Hamilton, Claire MacDonald, Rhiann Macleod and Caitlin Barr, the survivors of last night's playoffs.

It came down to the last end. Hamilton was one up without the hammer, got into trouble, and jammed her clearance with her last, leaving Eve a draw for two, which she made. Whew! Team Muirhead now meet Kelly Wood for the Columba Cream Championship title tomorrow morning. Find all the results here.

Eve Muirhead

Tom Brewster lost to David Murdoch in the Page 1-2 of the Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship, and faced Glen Muirhead's junior team, who got past Peter Loudon's side earlier in the page 3-4.

Here is Glen and third Greg Drummond with lots of stones!

Glen Muirhead

And the rest of the team - Scott Andrews on the left, Scott Macleod on the right.

Tom Brewster was fired up for this one - here he is getting excited!

Oops, you want to know who won. In a good game, Brewster, Duncan Fernie, Ron Brewster and Colin Campbell always held a slight advantage, and came down the tenth one up with the hammer. Tom drew the four foot for the game. All the results and stats are here.

Pics by Bob who promises to be more coherent tomorrow!

Medals now... and then

Family and friends await the arrival of Team GB from the European Youth Olympic Festival.

Here are the curling GOLD MEDALLISTS. L-R Becca Kesley, Hannah Fleming, Anna Sloan, Lauren Gray, Alice Spence with coach Debbie Knox.

Here are the curling SILVER MEDALLISTS. L-R: Blair Fraser, JayMcWilliam, Colin Dick, Kerr Drummond, Struan Wood with their coach Hazel Wood.

Here is Rhona Martin, who was responsible for the GB curling squads at the EYOF, with Debbie Knox, the coach of the girls' team. They were teammates in the GB Olympic team in Ogden, and seven years ago to the day (with Janice Rankin, Fiona MacDonald and Margaret Morton) they won the gold medals! February 21, 2002, it was. It just added an extra poignancy to the welcome home today at Glasgow Airport.

Curling Today says a big 'Well done' to both teams... and to the coaches, parents and supporters.

Winter Universiade

What's happening in China at the 24th Winter Universiade. Remember I gave instructions on how to find the results - see here. Anyway, John Hamilton's GB team lost in an extra end to Canada earlier today and currently sit on a 1-3 win-loss record. Sarah Reid's side beat the Russians and are on 2-2.

There's some more about the Universiade in the Curling News blog here (I like the photo, I believe kit like this is being considered for next season's RCCC Regional Academy athletes!) where you can read the following words: "Hats off to FISU for organizing a great competition. Scotland’s Jeannette Johnson (sic) and her Chinese organizing committee have done an outstanding job covering all the bases. The best decision they have made was bringing in icemakers Scott Henderson and Doug Wright... conditions have been amazing and continue to impress all of the teams."

BLOG INFO: Don't be looking here for anything from Perth until later tonight. I'm off to greet our two young GB teams back from the EYOF with their medals! The results from the Bruadar and Columba Cream Championships can be followed on the RCCC website.

Scots at World Wheelchair Championship

Rosemary Lenton, Jim Sellar, Tom Killin, Aileen Neilson, and Michael McCreadie (above) get down to business today when the 2009 World Wheelchair Curling Championship begins in Vancouver's new Olympic/Paralympic Centre which was only officially opened on Thursday.

The Scots play Canada in their first game later today (Saturday).

Real-time results will be available at wwhcc.curlit.com. Daily match reports and photos will be available at the main WCF website, and there will be reports on the RCCC website from Mike Haggerty from early next week. The event website, with the draw, is here.

I liked the wording on the official press release from VANOC about the new arena, and I share this with you:

"Six thousand spectators can watch the rocks curl and twist at the venue, the largest seating capacity for wheelchair curling in Paralympic Winter Games history. The Government of Canada and province of British Columbia contributed $40.25 million to the centre via VANOC. The curling venue is perched on one of the highest point of land in the city, with views of downtown’s glass towers and the snow-capped peaks of the North Shore mountains. Construction started in February 2007 – the last competition venue for the Games to break ground. The Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre is targeted for the gold standard in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. This eco-friendly venue captures rainwater and siphons it into the building to flush toilets and urinals. The toilets, showers and sinks also use low-flow water systems, reducing water usage by up to 30 per cent. The building is wrapped in a high-performance envelope that helps keep temperatures just right inside for the perfect ice sheet. Heat is reused during the ice-making process and the building is powered by a mixture of electricity, natural gas and solar energy."

So, there you are, watching the rocks curl and twist! Let's Twist Again. The new venue will also host the World Juniors, March 5-15. There's a pic of the arena ready for play here.

Photo courtesy of Tom Pendreigh

February 20, 2009

Second tiebreaker

What a great game of curling! Claire Hamilton, Claire MacDonald, Rhiann Macleod and Caitlin Barr took a pair at the first and always had their noses in front for seven more ends. One down in the ninth without the hammer, Gail went for it... and was looking at three when she went to play her last. Her attempted freeze was heavy and slipped through and she conceded. Gail, Lyndsay Wilson, Sharon Stewart and Kerry Adams will not be on the ice tomorrow.

The linescore is here. The shooting percentages are here, and these show that, on the night, the Hamilton team were the stronger.

Claire's side will meet the losers of the Eve Muirhead v Kelly Wood Page 1-2 game which is at 2.30 Saturday. The 'semi' is at 8pm.

But listen, we need to say more about these girls who were battling it out as the clock ticked towards midnight. So here is the Ed's salute to all tonight's gladiators!

Gail Munro

Lyndsay Wilson (and umpire Pat Edington)

Sharon Stewart

Kerry Adams

Claire Hamilton

Claire MacDonald

Rhiann Macleod

Caitlin Barr

"Psst. What time is it Claire?" "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"

Pics by Bob

Last round robin at Perth

David Murdoch eight wins, Tom Brewster seven wins, Peter Loudon six wins and Glen Muirhead also with six wins are the four teams in the playoffs at the Bruadar Scottish Curling Championship. That's what the standings on the RCCC website say here, with the linescores and playing percentages for all the games.

But there was quite some drama at the Dewar's Centre on Friday evening. Glen Muirhead (above) had to play Warwick Smith. Perhaps not many would have favoured the Juniors against last season's Scottish runners-up, but Glen's team demolished the veterans with ease.

Pete Loudon had not only his own future in his hands, but if he lost his game to Lee McCleary that would bring Smith, and Hammy McMillan, back into a tiebreaker. Loudon controlled the game. Drawing to win in the tenth his stone picked up! In the extra though, he was able to push out a near perfect McCleary freeze for the win.

Page playoffs 1 v 2, and 3 v 4 are tomorrow (Saturday) at 2.30 pm. Murdoch v Brewster; Muirhead v Loudon.

Top: Glen Muirhead

Pete Loudon

Pics by Bob