Friday, October 02, 2009

University Challenge

There can be no area of our sport that is more difficult to develop and organise than Universities' curling. Because of the nature of life at university and the rapid turnover of students it is difficult to provide any sort of competitive structure, with any sort of continuity, and over the years there have been many ups and downs. Recently though, the Royal Club has been helping out, and things are looking up. In 2008, curling was adopted by Scottish Universities Sport. I am really pleased to see this. I've always been a fan of university curling (I was once the Hon Pres of the Glasgow University CC) and even though I've been retired for twelve years, I do miss my students!

RCCC Development Manager Judith McFarlane, with assistance from Curl-Aberdeen ACDO Laura Morris (above), organised an open day for university curlers at the Dewar's Rinks in Perth on Wednesday. A splendid afternoon it was too.

A full description of this season's activities, and the background, is described by Judith here. Note in particular the establishment of a ‘University Curling Club’ to which all students can become members, regardless of their university.

Here are a few pics I took on Wednesday.

Scott Macleod (Dundee, town planning) has a key role to play in it all. He's the President of the Universities' Curling Association this year.

Of course, many of the university curlers are well known already on the junior scene in Scotland. Here's Struan Wood. Who doesn't know Struan!

Struan skipped an Aberdeen University team - more of which later. But 'five whats' is Corinne Shand trying to tell us?

And here is Corinne (Strathclyde, electrical engineering) trying to explain!

And Chay Telfer is a member of my favourite curling club, BTD CC*.

(*Ban the Drab curling club!)

Here's the Strathclyde four. Chay Telfer is in the head, Scott Telfer is throwing, with Adela Walczak and Corinne Shand doing the sweeping. Adela is from Poland and is studying product design engineering. She's been in Scotland for a couple of years already and can be seen regularly on the ice at Braehead and Greenacres.

Heriot Watt in action.

Representing Stirling University was Thomas Avery from Nova Scotia, who has come to Scotland to pursue studies in conservation science. A keen curler from the Chester Club, he's been to Scotland before, taking part in the Globe U-21 International at Dumfries in 2008. Welcome to Scotland, Thomas.

There were some beginners too, taking to the ice for the first time under the watchful eyes of Judith McFarlane and David Smith. L-R: Paul Cruikshank (Aberdeen, engineering), Linn Soma (Strathclyde, psychology and human resource management), Cheryl Irving (Dundee, law) and Judy Wardlaw (Dundee, law).

Cheryl took to the sport as a duck takes to water.

She just had this one problem, which coach Judith was quick to identify...

...and was quickly solved! Good style after just a few minutes on the ice!

I think ET's disembodied hand is trying to tell Judy she need only throw one stone at a time!

Another of the beginners, Linn Soma, is Norwegian. And a welcome to Scotland to you too, Linn!

Aberdeen's A team in action.

Skipped by Maggie Wilson (Aberdeen, marine and coastal resource management)...

... who has already managed to get a part time job advertising for the Lang Stracht Dental Practice!

Ian Copland (Glasgow, law) is perfectly colour co-ordinated. Impressive.

The caption competition.

'Most elegant on the ice' award went to Richard Gardner.

The bonspiel was won by Aberdeen 2. L-R: Struan Wood, Lewis Houston, Simon Gibb and Andrew Dolman, this last being a 'ringer' from RGU.

And here they are working hard.

The first league games will be played at Dewars Centre, Perth, on Wednesday, October 21. Results and all relevant information will be posted on the Scottish Universities Sport curling website. There will also be a qualified coach on hand to provide basic coaching to any new curlers that university team(s) wish to bring along and encourage to take up the game.

Included in the team entry fee is a beer and burger after each game for participants! Ah, healthy athlete food.

In addition to the league, the Universities Open Championships will take place at the rink at the North West Castle, Stranraer, April 2-4, 2010.

Pics © Skip Cottage