Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ethan again from Prague

Hello, it's me again, Ethan Brewster, guest blogger reporting from the European Mixed Curling Championship in Prague. That's me on my Czech train (above), cos I know that uncle Bob, who does this skippycottage thingy, likes trains.

Anyway, we are all excited here. I'm not sure why, but it may be because we're in the semifinals. This morning we beat Hungary, hooray! During the second end there was a power cut in Prague and all the lights went out for about 10 mins. Daddy was in the middle of throwing his first shot that end when it all went dark. Quite funny and we all had a good giggle about it.

Not much else to report except we went to the shopping mall (again) and then all had a nap and re-charged our batteries for our last round robin game against Belarus... and we won that too. That put us at the top of the Green section with six wins and one loss, the same as the Czech team who we beat in the first game.

Night, night. Ethan Brewster.

Thanks Ethan. Yes, I do like your train. And well done to Team Scotland! All the scores are here. And there are more photos of Ethan, and the Scots in action, on the event website here. And don't miss Josef Podrábský's Day 4 video blog here. Great fun! I just love the music choices. Very clever! Bob.

Wednesday Comment

Just one month ago, on my second post to this blog on August 30 (here), I expressed some reservations about the National Curling Academy project in Kinross. I've talked to many curlers in the last four weeks, and I know now that I'm not alone in wondering if this project is the right way ahead for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.

What I was surprised to learn this week was that the Royal Club's own Area Standing Committee has reservations about the project. The draft minutes of the ASC meeting on September 22 have just gone online here. I quote from these. "Matt Murdoch asked if there was any explanation for the rapidly escalating projected cost of the Kinross development. The current elite athletes were happy with the curling facilities at Stirling which were close to the other facilities of the Scottish Institute. In further discussion the ASC expressed severe doubts over the feasibility of the Kinross project with costs of over £5 million. The President undertook to convey the reservations of ASC to the Board."

The ASC provides the communication and representational route for member involvement in the management and administration of curling in Scotland. Members of the ASC take places on the various working committees of the RCCC and the ASC receives reports from all of the committees and the Board to allow information to be distributed through the area network. The ASC represents the rank and file members of the Royal Club.

In recent years the whole function of the ASC has come into question, and many have wondered if it performs any useful function at all, the Board making all the major decisions. Several committee members have openly expressed disillusionment of their position. New President Bill Marshall has pledged to change this. In the October Scottish Curler he suggests he would like to see all RCCC committees chaired by ASC members. He says, "The ASC has been sidelined a little bit by the Board. I'd like to redress the balance and place it at the heart of the Club's affairs."

I wonder if we are about to see the first major challenge to the RCCC Board by the ASC, triggered by the National Curling Academy. The minutes say that the ASC is having 'severe doubts over the feasibility of the Kinross project'. That's heavy stuff, indeed!

The building of the National Curling Academy in Kinross is the flagship project for the Royal Club Board at the present time. Outline planning permission is still awaited.

Like many others I was, until recently, very much in favour of the project which would provide new office accommodation for the sport's governing body, and a small curling museum, as well as the rink and facilities for the country's elite curlers.

A number of things have caused my present unease. Firstly, it has been seeing the published increase in costs of the project, from £3.25 million to over £5 million, apparently in the space of a few months. Here's how it has been explained to me. The £3.25m was the budget that was given to the project managers/architects. It was a 'best guess' as to what the facility with the specifications given might cost. The £3.25m did not include VAT which would take it up to over £3.8m – the current £5m does include VAT. VAT works both ways. If it does prove non-recoverable, then the project cost rises from £4.25m to £5m which means that the Kinross Curling Trust has to find the finance for the extra £750k in order to build the facility. The silver lining though would be that, for example, VAT would not be payable by the Trust on the ice charges which would save about £50k per annum on the bottom line and significantly improve its financial viability.

The current £5m estimate follows detailed costings of the Archial plans by Turner and Townsend, the project managers. This could be a cautious estimate. The true cost will only be ascertained when it goes out to tender. The expectations are that the eventual successful quote will come in somewhat lower.

Given this uncertainty over what the project will cost takes me back to the bid last year. The announcement was made on October 16, 2008, see here. The Kinross bid was accepted then, by a special Royal Club sub committee, in preference to Ratho, even though the latter had been accompanied by a business plan, architect plans, outline planning permission, and members' fundraising was already in place. I have never learned exactly why the decision went to Kinross. It does seem somewhat odd. If I'm making a major purchase, the one thing that governs my decision is what it will cost. But cost does not seem to have been a key factor in the decision that was made last year!

Of course, it is not the Royal Club which will run the National Curling Academy. That will be the Kinross Curling Trust. What has been singularly lacking is some good PR from both these bodies to counter the doubters!

What's bothering curlers throughout Scotland is the confusion between building a good curling facility with four sheets to replace the existing Kinross rink, and the National Curling Academy project with its six sheeter, as well as the offices, museum, gym and meeting facilities. Particularly in respect of fundraising. It would seem that the current cost of the former, built to a high standard, could be much less than £2 million. Is an additional £3 million good value for money for the NCA part of the project? And do we really need the two extra sheets in Kinross?

But I think the most significant point made in the ASC minutes is that, "The current elite athletes were happy with the curling facilities at Stirling which were close to the other facilities of the Scottish Institute."

If this statement is correct, and if the top curlers in the country are satisfied with what we currently have, then why are we pursuing the National Curling Academy at all?

The next RCCC Board meeting is on October 13. It will be interesting to see how the Board responds to the ASC's concerns, and if it will seek then to reassure us, the members, that it's not heading for a costly disaster.

Top photo is of the proposed site for the NCA in Kinross © Skip Cottage.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Guest blogger from Prague

Hello, my name is Ethan Brewster. That's me in the photo above, with my mum Kim. My dad Tom is taking the picture, and his curling team Michelle Silvera, Colin Campbell and Lynn Cameron are in the background trying to figure out where we are.

I could tell them! We're in Prague for the European Mixed Championship.

Well, we got here safe and sound and all is going well. The team have been playing very well, especially their opening game vs the home nation. Dad was pulling off some amazing shots to finish the ends and had no problem drawing the button if the pressure was on. The whole team played great and got ourselves off to a brilliant start. I was surrounded by a sea of Czech fans, but mum and I definitely shouted louder!

The second game was a bit of a low point for the team vs Finland. We didn't have much luck, but we told Jussi and co that we'd see them in the final!

Two good wins against Estonia and the Netherlands kept us in the running for a place in the playoffs. Tonight we play France and are looking to continue the winning streak.

There's a large shopping centre close to the hotel. Lynn, Michelle and mum say hooray for shopping! They managed to find a train for me to enjoy too.

The Metro is great and today we spent the day in Prague city centre and enjoyed a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant. We walked accross the bridge where the opening scene in Mission Impossible was filmed.

Here's the team. L-R: Michelle Silvera, Tom Brewster (Go Dad!), Lynn Cameron and Colin Campbell.

They've even constructed a special entrance into the rink, just for me! Right, I'm just off to watch Scotland play France. You can find all the linescores and standings here. And there are some great video news blogs here. See if you can spot the Scottish squad.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading. Ethan Brewster.

STOP PRESS. We beat France 6-4!

Pics courtesy of Kim Brewster

New Scottish Curler

You can perhaps imagine my feelings when the October issue of the Scottish Curler dropped through my letterbox yesterday. Certainly I am pleased that the magazine continues to be printed, as earlier in the year it was set to fold completely. But it was odd to see the magazine, of which I was Editor for seven years, now in other hands!

It was exciting to find out what was inside. No, I'm not going to go into details on the content. That's for you to read. You can subscribe online here on the magazine's revamped website. There are twenty-eight pages too, four more than in the past. It deserves your support.

Monday, September 28, 2009

No pressure then

Let's imagine the situation. You are playing your first competition as a skip. You've brought your team through to the 3rd-4th playoff of the High Road. But there's four lying against you in the first end as you go to play your last.

I should mention that you are eleven years old and your name is Ross Whyte.

This is what you do. You take the skip's shot out of your back pocket and play it, a nice little hit and roll in, perfectly. No pressure. It's why you are the skip!

Thanks to Alan Donaldson for the clip below. The YouTube link is here if you want to watch it in a larger frame. It's from the Lockerbie U-17 on Sunday. I doubt if World Champ David Murdoch could have played it better, or if his team could have looked after it any better than did Zack Stewart, Paul Donaldson and Chris Howat.

Did I mention that Team Whyte went on to win the game? Let's hear it for these Dumfries Young Curlers! Their photo is in this post.

More from Lockerbie

Thomas Sloan was throwing them well at Lockerbie this weekend, as he skipped his team to victory in the U-17 competition, see here for the presentation pic.

Although third player Scott Fraser doesn't seem so sure in this pic from the final, with Stuart Taylor and Duncan Menzies watching behind.

Thomas Muirhead threw second stones.

Kyle Smith was lead. It's all in the tongue!

Go here for more action photos from the weekend. You can browse the individual pics, or run the slideshow.

Low Road winners L-R Craig Waddell (2nd), Kyle Waddell (3rd), Gavin Reid (skip) and Adrew Muir (lead).

Kyle Waddell (on right) beat his skip Gavin Reid in the final of the singles competition.

Ross Whyte (front left) with his team Paul Donaldson (2nd), Zack Stewart (3rd) and Chris Howat (lead).

(As noted above, more pics are in the Picasa album here. Not intended to be a comprehensive selection of everyone on the ice - apologies if your photo is not here. Please let me know if I have captioned any incorrectly. Email address is in my Profile. Thanks. Bob)

Pics © Skip Cottage

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Elsewhere in the curling world

Sweden's Oscar Eriksson, with Kristian Lindstrom playing fourth stones, stole the extra end of the Radisson SAS Oslo Cup final against Thomas Ulsrud, after a measure! Ulsrud had knocked out David Murdoch's Team GB in the qualifier to reach the quarterfinal. Go here to link to all the results. It was great to be able to watch the webcast - I was home in time to see the last couple of ends of the final. Good commentary too.

Jennifer Jones' Canadian side beat Anette Norberg to win the women's event. A 'well done' to Eve Muirhead's GB team in reaching the semis, where they fell to the Canadians. Sarah Reid and Gillian Howard both reached the quarters in Oslo.

Tom Brewster, Lynn Cameron, Colin Campbell and Michelle Silvera have won one and lost one in Prague at the European Mixed Championship. All the results and standings are on the event website here. There are some good (and unusual) photos of the event too.

And thanks to Hugh Stewart for this pic from the Sadie Anderson which was held at Ayr this weekend.

Was this the furthest travelled participant at Ayr? Vicki Dunlop (delivering), in Team Cunningham, lives and works on Shetland! Pic © Hugh Stewart.

Sloan repeats at Lockerbie U-17

Sue Stevenson presents the Stevenson Trophy to (L-R) Kyle Smith (lead), Scott Fraser (3rd), Thomas Sloan (skip) and Thomas Muirhead (second). The Sloan team beat Duncan Menzies, Stuart Taylor, Robert Fawns and Angus Dowell in the final of the Lockerbie U-17 event, the second in the RCCC Slam series. All the linescores are on the website here.

I'm a big fan of the U-17 events, and this one was great. There were sixteen teams, playing in four sections, with six-end games the rule on the Saturday. The top team in each section would qualify for the High Road. Team Sloan were the favourites - they are a strong team. Thomas himself is Scottish Junior Champion and has already bags of experience. He skipped the winning team at the Lockerbie U-17 last season. This year his team beat Jennifer Paul, Fraser Davidson, Erica McGeoch and Andi Lock in the eight-end semi.

Surprise of the weekend - and very much the 'team of the event' - was Ross Whyte's debut as skip in the U-17 event series. He directed Zack Stewart, Paul Donaldson and Chris Howatt to three points from his three section games, and was an end better than the three other teams in his section, all of who finished with the same points, to qualify for the High Road. In the semi, the Dumfries young curlers came second in their game against the Menzies side, but they bounced back to beat Jen Paul's team in the 3-4 playoff.

Did I mention that Ross is just eleven?

Gavin Reid, Kyle Waddell, Craig Waddell and Andrew Muir won the the Lockerbie and District Rotary Shield, defeating Mhairi Baird, Gina Aitken, Katy Richardson and Rachael Halliday in the Low Road Final.

There was a lot of talent on the ice at Lockerbie this weekend. I enjoyed the event thoroughly. I've taken lots of photos and I'll have some of these up to view tomorrow, all being well.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Generation Game

Guess who I met at the Lockerbie Rink today? David Aitken (left) and Robin Halliday were teammates together in the 80s, and in 1986, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with Peter Smith and Harry Reilly as their front end, they won the Uniroyal World Junior Curling Championship, see here. They beat Canada's Kevin Martin in the final.

So what brought them together at Lockerbie today?

Rachael Halliday and Gina Aitken, their daughters, were playing together with Mhairi Baird (skip) and Katy Richardson, in the Lockerbie U-17 competition.

More photos and the result of the competition by Monday.

The results so far are on the RCCC website here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Business Plan for the Fife Curling Centre

The Fife Curling Trust has published its business plan for the proposed community four-sheet rink in Duffus Park in Cupar, together with detailed costings for the first three years, as well as architects drawings and impressions of the rink. These documents can be downloaded here.

I am impressed with the openness of those behind the project. It was interesting to read in detail about the partnership with the Cupar Cricket Club, and the importance of this link to the future of the project.

Fundraising, to raise £250,000, is ongoing and the amount raised so far is encouraging, see here. Have you thought of getting involved? Click here to find out how.

The timescale that is being followed if the facility is to be operational for the 2010/11 season is as follows:

1. Site secured – Feb 2009.
2. Fundraising initiative and approaches to Charitable Trusts launched – Feb 2009
3. Tender of Construction Companies – Started May 2009 completed August 2009
4. Stage 1 application for 'Building For Sport' Grant from Sportscotland – Oct 2009
5. Detailed planning permission application – Nov 2009.
6. Planning application decision – Dec 2009/Jan 2010.
7. Stage 2 application for 'Building for Sport' Grant from Sportscotland – Jan 2010
8. Decision on Sportscotland Grant – Feb 2010
9. Commence Construction – Spring 2010.
10. Open Facility – Sept 2010.

The Business Plan says, "It is our belief that it is essential that the facility provides the basic requirements of the curling rink (insulated structure, good ice, changing rooms, lounge/meeting area, teaching room, office) as cost effectively as possible. These basics have to be simple, functional and comfortable at a cost effective price."

I encourage everyone to download and study the documents that have been made available. There are others more qualified than me to comment on the detail therein, particularly the financial projections. It would be good to see these discussed, perhaps on the Scottish Curling Forum.

There's such a lot to talk about but, for now, here simply is the summary of the Business Plan, as printed in the document now available online.

"The Fife Curling Trust, a registered Scottish Charity, which has been constituted by the local Curling community and Curling Clubs of NE Fife, wish to construct the 'Fife Curling Centre', a first class community curling facility. Cupar has been identified as the preferred location for this facility, which would serve both Cupar and the wider rural NE Fife & East Neuk communities and the 720 registered curlers within the area.

Cupar Cricket Club have entered into partnership with Fife Curling Trust to jointly progress the Fife Curling Centre Project, with a view to them replacing their existing club pavilion and storage by utilising new facilities incorporated within the new curling rink building. This partnership will enable the new facility to operate for 12 months per year and will hopefully increase participation and membership for both sports and be a valuable addition to local sports facilities.

The facility will cost £1,541,000 to construct and fit out and will require funding of a minimum of £750,000 in grants from sportscotland with £250,000 from other Charitable Trusts to enable this. The local community will aim to raise £250,000, with the remaining balance of £291,000 being sourced from commercial borrowing.

The Fife Curling Trust will manage the facility with the objective of increasing participation in Curling and sport in general. They wish to operate the facility in a mutually beneficial partnership with Local Schools, Colleges, Community Groups, Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC) and Fife Council. Development programs will be put in place to target all ages and abilities of participants to encourage greater participation in the sport and encourage healthy recreation in the wider local community. This sports development is mirrored by the ambitions of the 125-year-old Cupar Cricket Club, who will use the new facilities to attract and develop new players to ensure their club thrives over the coming decades.

The proposal has the full support of Cupar Community Council, Fife Council, Fife Education, Elmwood College, Local Politicians and the local Curling and Cricketing community. The local community support has been exceptional with many community groups indicating that they would support and utilise the available facilities, such as the seminar room and ice hall in summer, where possible, due to a lack of such facilities in the area.

By Constructing this new facility, the Fife Curling Trust wish to safeguard the future in Fife for the next fifty years of this traditional & historically significant Scottish sport. If there are any queries on the Contents of this business plan, do not hesitate to contact David Steel, the Chairman of Fife Curling Trust."

Best wishes to David and the others behind the Cupar effort in making their dreams come true!

A simple impression of the outside!

And of the inside.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lockerbie U-17

Pristine Lockerbie ice awaited its first curlers on Wednesday evening. And this weekend the rink hosts the Under-17 event, the second of the Royal Club's Grand Slam series. The first was at Perth at the end of last season. The standings after that are here.

Sixteen teams are signed up for Lockerbie, competing for the Stevenson Trophy. First games are tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 am. The draw is here, and the results will be here.

If all goes well, I'll have some photos from the competition here on Monday.

It's now autumn, but the leaves are still on the trees, and the Lockerbie Ice Rink is ready for a new season.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Curlwatching Oslo online

The enthusiasts behind Curlingkanalen should get a lot of traffic to their site this weekend. They are supplying a results service through Cup Online, and a live feed of some of the games in the second Curling Champions Tour event of the season, the Radisson SAS Oslo Cup.

In the men's event, the twenty-five team lineup includes the GB Olympic squad, skipped by David Murdoch, see here. Mike McEwen from Canada and John Shuster from the USA have travelled to take part in this one alongside many of the top European teams.

Murdoch's first opposition is Sweden's Mathias Mabergs tomorrow afternoon.

The teams play a round robin in four groups of five. I'm puzzled a little on how we get to quarterfinals with this arrangement, but all will no doubt become clear. In contrast to Baden, there is apparently no 3rd-4th playoff, the losing teams in the semifinals will both be ranked 3rd. Get to the quarterfinals though and you are in the money.

The twenty women's teams pay a lower entry fee and play for a smaller prize fund than do the men in their parallel competition. Eve Muirhead's GB team is in the draw, and there's other Scottish interest. Sarah Reid (with Kerry Barr, Barbara McFarlane and Laura Kirkpatrick) and Gillian Howard (with Kay Adams, Linsey Spence and Sarah Macintyre) bring their SIS 'Elite Squad' teams to the event. All three of these teams are on the ice today (Thursday 24) at 13.10 pm local time.

Gail Munro is back in the frontline too, with Lyndsay Wilson and Kerry Adams. Canadian expat Alison Mather, who is studying in Glasgow and playing regularly with the Reform Club, joins the Munro team. Their first game is tomorrow.

Two Canadian teams skipped by Jennifer Jones and by Jill Mouzar are in the mix this weekend, as is Anette Norberg's Swedish side.

I think I will be looking for the results here AND here in the first instance.

The Champions Tour website is here.

The live feed can be found here. As I write this, the site is replaying the 2008 women's final between Kelly Wood and Anette Norberg. I understand that Logan Gray will be doing commentary again this weekend.

The site has a 'chat window' too for which you need to register. Anyone else remember the happy days of curlingarena?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prague for the Euro Mixed

Michelle Silvera, Colin Campbell, Lynn Cameron and Tom Brewster, seen above after winning the Scottish Mixed Championship last season, are bound for Prague's four sheeter, where they will play the local Czech team in their opening game of the European Mixed Championship on Saturday evening.

Always assuming of course that the Czech facility has survived the visit of 38 RCCC Ladies' Branch curlers this week, on their 50th anniversary trip, see here! It certainly looks as if the women have had a great time.

The website for the EMCC09 is here. Twenty-four countries will take part, playing in three sections. Scotland is with Hungary, Finland, France, Estonia, Netherlands, Belarus and the Czech Republic.

Germany's Rainer Schopp is defending the title his team won last year, and play in the red section with Denmark, Switzerland, Latvia, Spain, Poland, Slovakia and Lithuania.

The yellow section has Sweden, Russia, Italy, England, Austria, Ireland, Norway and Serbia. Alan MacDougall skips the English team with Lana Watson, Andrew Reed and Suzie Law. John Jo Kenny heads the Irish side with Marie O'Kane, Tony Tierney and Gillian Drury.

There's no Welsh side in the competition this time, despite their great win in the event two years ago in Madrid. The BBC Wales News website (here) makes great play of that success in trailing Come and Try sessions at the Deeside Ice Rink throughout September, offered by the Welsh Curling Association.

Photos of all the teams are on the home page of the event website - click on each country in the list of teams on the left side. The draw is here, and there are more photos of the facility, one of the nicest and friendliest I have ever visited, here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Tale of Two Houses

Last weekend was Doors Open Day in Glasgow. I was excited to be able to visit a hidden curling treasure in Victoria Park.

This is Partick Curling Club's curling house - a very grand structure indeed. The club committee still meets there several times each season.

There are two tarmac rinks beside the house, and on Saturday Dan Young and Peter Shill were on hand to welcome more than one hundred visitors curious to know about the rink and the curling house. Go here for more photos of Partick CC's treasures.

Next weekend it is Edinburgh's turn to throw open doors to those interested in seeing 'behind the scenes'.

I've written before about the restoration of the Duddingston Curling House, see here and here. Thomson's Tower is to be open next Saturday (September 26, 1-4 pm) as one of the attractions of the Open Days. And it's free of charge! Read about its location in Dr Neil's Garden here.

Thomson's Tower is a unique octagonal building located on the shore of Duddingston Loch. It was designed by William Henry Playfair (1789-1857), the famous Edinburgh architect. The Tower was a curling house for the Duddingston Curling Society where members could meet and store their curling stones.

Ian Seath tells me that around 250 people came to see the house and curling museum on the days that the building was open in August. There could be access for groups of interested people in the months ahead. Ian is your contact to arrange this.

I made my second visit to the curling display one Sunday last month. I had time to sit and watch the selection of old video footage of curling which is available. Wonderful!

Do go and see it on Saturday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Greenaces Junior Masters 2009

A selection of photos from the weekend's junior event at Greenacres can be found here. Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive record - not every team nor curler features in the gallery. Perhaps I'll get a pic of the other teams at another junior event this season.

And please let me know if I've got any names wrong, and if any of the photos are not captioned correctly. Apologies in advance. My email address can be found within my profile.

You can see the pics as a slideshow by following the link above to the album page and clicking on the slideshow link on top left of the page.

(I've been experimenting with the embedded slideshow this afternoon, but have encountered some problems. I think it is better all round to link to the album page. Go here. Hope you agree)

Anyway, enjoy!

Good shot - bad shot

Jennifer Marshall acknowledges a well played shot at the Greenacres Masters this past weekend.

Now for a story! Gary Cannell is up against Glen Muirhead's team in the quarterfinal of the junior men's event. His team have held the favourites for six ends. This is a key shot. Does he make it?

No. Who said curling was fun? Tough one Gary, but well played over the weekend!

Team Muirhead went on to win this game, then the semifinal and final.

© Skip Cottage. More pics later.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Junior Masters at Greenacres

Fifteen junior men's teams contested the Greenacres Junior Masters, the first U-21 competition of the season. Colin Dick and Michael Reid skipped their teams directly into the semifinals as the top sides in their sections. Glen Muirhead's team, the favourites, had dropped a point against Ross Thompson's team, but gained their place in the last four with a 7-6 win against Gary Cannell in a 'quarterfinal'. Grant Hardie made up the final four by beating Hamilton McMillan.

Hardie, with Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead and Cammy Smith, then knocked out Team Dick to reach the final. Muirhead, with Greg Drummond, Thomas Sloan and Michael Goodfellow, had to steal the last end of their semifinal against Michael Reid's side for their place in the title decider.

Hardie's team held the former Scottish Champion for four ends, then Muirhead edged 3-1 ahead. The game was over in the sixth when Grant and his side gave up four against the head, and shook hands.

L-R: Glen Muirhead, Greg Drummond, Thomas Sloan and Michael Goodfellow.

Ten junior women's teams played in two sections. Mhairi Baird's team went undefeated in her group, and then beat Helen King in the semifinal. Gina Aitken topped the Green Section and edged Hazel Smith's team in the other semi.

The final was closely fought. Both teams are new this season. Aitken, with Katy Richardson, Clare Lang and Zoe Bain, made the move in the fifth with three shots for a 5-2 lead. Hard as they fought, Baird, Jennifer Martin, Mairi Girvan and Rachel Hannen, could not get back to their opposition.

L-R: Gina Aitken, Katy Richardson, Clare Lang and Zoe Bain.

All in all, it was a top competition. New teams, some fine curling, great enthusiasm, with the Greenacres rink making us all welcome. Yes, there was one hiccup over rules - involving what should, or should not, have happened when one team had a player short for their first game on the Friday. Otherwise, the tenth Greenacres Junior Masters got the 2009-10 season off to a great start.

Hopefully, I'll have more photos from the weekend here on Monday afternoon.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Royal Club membership mailing

In my mail yesterday was my Royal Caledonian Curling Club membership card, or, correctly, my 2009/10 Membership Certificate! The RCCC sends these out now directly to all members if the Club hold a mailing address. Otherwise these are distributed through curling club secretaries.

Also included in the RCCC mailing was a useful and informative 'information sheet and wall chart'. That's the cover above, with a Michael Burns photo of the World Champs. A whole section of the publication has photos of successful teams from last season. Mike Haggerty has written a preview of the Olympics and Paralympics.

I note too that the Royal Club is planning to use the interest generated by the Olympics to promote the sport in a series of 'Come and Try Curling' events during the first week in March in rinks throughout the country. There will be details of these on the RCCC website here, and if you would like to get involved to help you should contact Development Manager Judith McFarlane, at Cairnie House, contact details here.

The brochure also contains promotion of the European Curling Championships, Aberdeen, December 4-12. 'See the World's Best In Action.'

Most useful is a list of competition dates - I must make sure my own diary is up to date! It is somewhat daunting to see the season laid out ahead like this! Also of use if you know of someone who would like to try the sport, is a list of 'Come and Try' dates (in addition to the March dates mentioned above) with rink contact details. This information is also on the RCCC website.

Last, but not least, is an article on Individual Voting Rights. This was an important change for the Royal Club, passed at the last AGM. There is a plea for all members to ensure that their email address is on file at Cairnie House. The brochure says, "We are really excited that this change was accepted at the AGM. Now individual curlers will receive direct information, through the Annual Report, on the performance of the Royal Club, and they will be able to choose who will be running the Royal Club on their behalf."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Juniors head for Greenacres

Fifteen junior men's teams and ten junior women's teams will play in the tenth Greenacres Junior Masters this weekend, the event sponsored by Greenacres Curling Ltd. The first games are at 4 pm today, with the finals scheduled for 4 pm Sunday afternoon.

The men's entries are Ross Thompson, Robert Tait, Michael Reid, Colin Mouat, Derrick Sloan, Duncan Menzies, Grant Hardie, Stuart Marshall, George McConnell, Glen Muirhead, Greg Matthew, Andrew Callander, David Miller, Colin Dick, and Hamilton McMillan.

The women's teams are Gina Aitken, Fiona Munro, Lauren Baxter, Hazel Smith, Hannah Fleming, Mhairi Baird, Helen King, Jennifer Dodds, Naomi Whyte and Jennifer Marshall.

If all goes well, I should have a report here on Monday.

Major improvement work at Stranraer

A painted floor awaits its first ice. When Stranraer's four-sheeter opened in the 1971-72 season, if my memory serves me right, Glasgow curlers made their first visits to play in the weekend competitions. It was the first hotel in the world to have its own curling rink. We were made very welcome, and I have fond memories of the curling, sometimes even successfully, in the 1970s. Friends made then remain friends today.

Over the years, I have enjoyed many visits to the wee rink in Stranraer.

The rink had a sand floor. I say 'had', because over the summer, lots has been happening at the North West Castle!

First of all the old floor and piping was dug up, and new insulation laid.

The framework to hold new piping was put in place.

And here's a closer look.

The reinforcement was put in place, then it was all hands for the laying of the concrete.

And eventually to where we came in, with the artistic work!

And did I mention there's a new ice-making plant? What a great investment in the future of our sport in the south west of the country! The rink's website is here.

Curling at Stranraer gets underway the first week in October. And the rink will host the Scottish Mixed Seniors, October 9-11.

The whole process of the rink's revamp has been recorded in photographs by Gail Munro, of which the above are just a sample.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New owner for Forfar

Forfar's curling, skating and bowling facility has changed hands. Mike Ferguson, former RCCC Chairman, has taken it over from Brian Bonnyman who has run the company for twenty years.

The news is on the rink's new blog here.

I wish Mike every success and best wishes in this new venture. I look forward to visiting the rink in the near future. A new ice making plant is being installed prior to the start of the season.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wheels on a Wednesday

There was a lot of wheelchair curling news awaiting me in my email inbox when I got home this evening. Hugh Stewart's photo (above) shows the GB Paralympic Squad training last summer at Inverness - all six of them. L-R: Jim Sellar, Rosemary Lenton, Michael McCreadie, Aileen Neilson, Tom Killin and Angie Malone. Tom Pendreigh is the squad coach.

The news today, here, is that this squad has now been reduced to five. Rosemary Lenton (left) is the one who misses out. I saw her recently training at The Peak in Stirling (see here) and I'm sure she will be disappointed. So, while my best wishes go to the others as they embark on several hard months before the Paralympics, I have a thought today for Rosemary. I'm sure she has a big future in the sport still ahead of her.

In contrast to the two GB teams named for the Olympics, the Paralympic lineup is not certain. It will be interesting to see who will emerge as the team's skip.

Now, back in August, I mentioned Jim Taylor's efforts to raise funds for the Marie Curie Big Build Hospice Appeal, see here. That involved challenging the World Champions to a game at Stirling. The event was organised by Give Them a Sporting Chance, which is a registered charity giving carers and those with disabilities, of all ages, the opportunity to make their sporting or recreational dreams come true.

All credit to David Murdoch and his team for getting involved. Jim says, “Give Them A Sporting Chance provided seamless organisational skills and what can I say about GB Men’s Olympic coach David Hay and Team Murdoch taking on this challenge in the year leading up to Olympics? Fantastic! The whole event emphasised camaraderie, friendship and good sportsmanship. It was a surreal experience and passed by too fast.”

There's a lot of generous people out there! Jim has raised £1720 so far, and if you feel you can contribute, it's not too late, go here.

Here is the official record of the day. Front: L-R: Ian Donaldson, Jim Taylor, Angie Malone, Jim Elliott, Bill Masterton. Back: David Hird, Euan Byers, Peter Smith, Graeme Connal, David Murdoch, Andrew Bain.

A postscript. Active Stirling’s Curling Development Officer, Logan Gray, said, "Immediately after this event, there was an Active Stirling Come and Try opportunity for wheelchair curlers at The Peak. Four new wheelchair curlers turned up and thoroughly enjoyed learning the basics of curling and have come back for follow up coaching sessions. Wheelchair curling is a growing network with clubs being started all over Scotland and plans are now in place for Stirling to become a new centre for wheelchair curlers to take to the ice."