Saturday, October 31, 2009

Here come the girls

It was the Dewar's Centre at Perth today. This was Sarah Reid's attempt at a run back with last stone in her first round game of the Columba Cream Scottish Ladies Championship qualifying competition. Actually she didn't make it. Chalk a point up to the Claire Milne team. And find all the results from the competition here.

Here's Claire.

Rachael Simms and Lynn Cameron on Kim Brewster's stone.

And here's the rest of the team - Rachael Simms, Kim Brewster, Lynn Cameron, with Claire Milne, telling her sister Mairi how much they are missing her this season!

Meanwhile the youngsters get on with it. Abi Brown and Alice Spence work on Hannah Fleming's stone.

Lauren Gray

And the rest of Lauren's team. Tasha Aitken and Caitlin Barr sweep Claire MacDonald's stone.

Team talk, fifth end. Coach David Aitken, "Feint with the left, then flatten them with a right hook!"

Kirsten McNay and Mhairi Anderson working for skip Jennifer Dodds.

This has to be today's caption competition. Coach Margaret Richardson is doing her best 'teacher' impression with Gillian Howard!

And here Gillian imparts the advice to the rest of the team - Linsey Spence, Sarah Macintyre, Kay Adams

Dor Borthwick is chief ump this weekend.

Lauren Gray and Anna Sloan

Anna Sloan's team - Rhiann McLeod, Claire Hamilton and Vicki Adams.

Sarah Reid

Healthy athlete food

Keen ice, BIG swings

Judith McFarlane in the house

"Surely he never did that!"

"You're pulling my leg!"

"Karen, you tell such whoppers!"

"Just NO WAY!"

Pics © Skip Cottage

VICE Fife v Fife Curling Trust

I think, if most of us reading this are honest with ourselves, the disability that we fear the most is losing our sight. It has happened to many of course, yet visually impaired curlers are striving to make their presence felt in some of the country's rinks. Leading the way amongst them is Jim Gales, on the hack in the photo above, getting help with his lineup from John Arbuckle. I've seen Jim on the ice before, see here.

So it was not a surprise to hear that Jim had issued a challenge to the fully sighted Trustees of the Fife Curling Trust. These are the curlers striving to raise the funding for a community rink at Cupar. It is certainly the ethic behind the Fife Curling Trust to encompass curlers of all abilities AND disabilities. The challenge between VICE Fife (Vision Impaired Curlers East Fife) and the trustees' representatives took place on Thursday (October 29) at Kinross.

I was impressed at the enthusiasm and feel that these visually impaired curlers have for the game. Here are some of those taking part in Thursday's challenge. L-R above: Andrew Stevenson (FCT), Jim Gales, Ian Wallace (FCT), Liz Campbell, John Arbuckle (FCT) and David Manzie.

David Steel, the driving force behind the Cupar project, and Frank Goodison, were the two skips. Here (1) Frank is giving David a donation to the Trust (as you can too, see here), or (2) the two skips are having a small wager on the outcome of the game!

Needless to say, a handicap system was introduced, David pronouncing it a 'scary experience!' Good fun, humbling to witness, and great to see the Fife Curlers Trust keeping their efforts to the fore! Best wishes to our VICs on the ice.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Friday, October 30, 2009

Looking forward to May 2010

The more I study the cover of the 2010 Fire on Ice calendar, the more I think, "What a lovely wee curling stone that is!" I ordered my copy, which will hang in my office, from the European Curling Federation website here.

I know it's unlucky but I have had a sneak look at the months ahead. Actually, Una Grava-Germane was selling copies when we were in Riga recently. This Latvian redhead is Miss November! The whole purpose of the calendar is to raise funds for women’s curling teams, as the models receive a share of the proceeds!

Sadly missing from the ice in Scotland this season is Vicky Sloan, touring the world and last heard from somewhere in Southeast Asia! The photo is from the 2008 Scottish Mixed Doubles which she won with Keith MacLennan.

Skip Cottage can reveal that Vicky is May 2010 in the Fire on Ice Calendar! She follows in the footsteps of Kim Brewster and Jackie Lockhart who graced the 2008 calendar. (Actually, Kim, without her head, is one of the 'extra' photos in the 2010 edition, but that's another story.)

This is the publicity photo of Vicky released by photographer Ana Arce. I should stress it is NOT the photo that is in the calendar. You'll have to buy the calendar to see that. Actually, the May 2010 pic is very nice, and perhaps more tasteful (subtle? artistic?) than some other months! Anyway, well done to Vicky. I'm looking forward to May 2010 already.

Ana has opened a Facebook group to support the calendar, and there are publicity photos of the other models available. If you are a Facebook member, look it up here. Apparently, previous editions of 'Fire on Ice' have earned €60,000 for women's curling!

For any women reading this, think of it this way. This could be the solution on what to buy husband, boyfriend, or partner for Christmas. There are only 55 shopping days to go!

Pics of Vicky © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Columba Cream Scottish Ladies' Championship

It's eyes on the Dewar's Centre in Perth this Saturday and Sunday where eight teams are vying for the remaining six places in the Columba Cream Scottish Ladies Championship. Only two teams, skipped by Eve Muirhead and Gail Munro, are already in the final eight for the first round proper of the competition, at Curl Aberdeen, November 19-22.

Of the eight teams in the prequalifying competition this weekend, four are still juniors. The pre-qualifier will be played in two sections with the top three teams in each section going forward. I can envisage playoffs galore on Sunday!

Anna Sloan (pictured above), Lauren Gray, Gillian Howard and Judith McFarlane skip their teams in Section A, and Jennifer Dodds, Hannah Fleming, Claire Milne and Sarah Reid are in Section B. Hard to say who will be the odd ones out, so I'm not even going to begin to speculate!

First games are at 09.30 on Saturday. It's the beginning of the road to the world championships. The Ford World Women's Curling Championship will be held in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada, March 20-28, 2010. Yes, there will be life after the Olympics!

Elsewhere in the curling world, Eve Muirhead's Team GB are in the draw for the 2009 Colonial Square Ladies Classic in Saskatoon. This is a thirty-two team triple knockout. The results will be here. The GB side is up against Robyn Silvernagle's Saskatchewan team in their first match tomorrow (Friday, November 30).

David Murdoch and the men's Team GB are in Brooks, Alberta, for the 2009 Cactus Pheasant Classic, which gets underway today. The twenty-four team lineup contains the top Canadian sides, see here. The results should be here.

Photo of Anna Sloan practising at Lockerbie recently is © Skip Cottage.

Wheels now at Stirling

Stirling welcomes wheelchair curlers on to the ice. The elite have been using the facility since it opened. That's Jim Sellar in the photo above, a member of the GB wheelchair curling squad, practising at the rink. And last Thursday, The Peak hosted the launch of Stirling’s wheelchair curling section. The section is being run by Active Stirling and plans are in place for it to become an established club in season 2010-11.

Twelve wheelchair curlers took to the ice, ten of whom only started this year. During the first session, some curlers were shown the basics, while the more experienced players learned from Scottish wheelchair curling champion Jim Taylor (below). Jim was on hand to share some of his tips and secrets with the new curlers. Also coaching was elite wheelchair curling coach Judy Mackenzie who was recently coaching the Scottish Wheelchair Team in Norway.

Active Stirling Curling Development Officer Logan Gray was pleased with the launch day. He said, “This is a great start to wheelchair curling in Stirling. I hope it continues to grow into a successful club where wheelchair users can fully appreciate the social aspects of curling.”

Sessions will run on Thursdays from 2pm-4pm and any wheelchair user is invited to come along and try their hand at the sport. For more information contact Logan Gray at Active Stirling on 01786 432345.

Jim Taylor competing in the British Open at Kinross recently.

Other wheelchair curling news. The Star Refrigeration Wheelchair Curling National Pairs is on at Braehead this weekend. Nineteen pairs playoff in four sections. The draw can be downloaded from here. I note that Jim Taylor is on first at 5.30pm on Friday (October 30) against Paul Webster. The semis are at 1pm and the final is at 2.45pm on Sunday, November 1.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wednesday musings

Whenever I am in Edinburgh, and I have even a few minutes to spare, I usually make a quick visit to the National Gallery. It's not that I am an art enthusiast. Anything but. It is to my regret that I have little artistic talent. But the great thing about this gallery, and many in Scotland, is that it costs nothing to nip in, and spend a few moments studying one or two of the works of art on show.

I was pleased to discover in August that Sir George Harvey's famous painting The Curlers was back on display. I wasn't allowed to photograph it of course.

But I do have this print of an engraving of Harvey's painting in my collection. The original painting is rather fine. Even the reproduction online, see here, does not do it justice. For one thing, it's much larger than my print, the colours are vibrant, and there's so much detail. I've been to see it a number of times. It is unfortunate that it has been mounted in a stairwell, and it is difficult to find a stance from which you can examine the picture comfortably.

Here's what the National Gallery says about it. "Harvey conveyed the excitement, humour and enjoyment of one of Scotland's national sports. The curlers are playing outside on a frozen lake, the wintry landscape illuminated by the late afternoon sun, providing a seasonal backdrop for the theatrical composition. The players themselves reflect the whole spectrum of rural society."

The painting was so popular when it was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1835 that Harvey made a number of copies to meet demand. This is interesting. I think I know where one of the copies is, but where are the others?

An engraving of the picture was made in 1838 by William Howison and published by the influential art dealer, Alexander Hill. I assume it is a print of this that I bought at auction some years ago.

You might think from what I've written above that I'm a big fan of our National Galleries. I'm not. Having entered into an agreement (or so we were told, see the story here) with the Royal Caledonian Curling Club to purchase Lees's painting of the Grand Match at Linlithgow, they reneged on the deal. The value of this Royal Club asset has never been stated publically, but is thought to be in excess of half a million.

The situation today appears unchanged from that stated by the RCCC CEO Colin Grahamslaw at the AGM in June. "If I can update briefly on the Charles Lees painting, we have been discussing throughout the year with the National Galleries of Scotland their bid for the picture. Unfortunately the situation with the Titians sidelined our picture. It seems to be easier to find 50 million for a couple of Titians than a slightly smaller amount for what we were looking for for our picture but, we continue to talk with the galleries and talk with Sotheby's about potential homes for the Charles Lees painting but, it still remains with the Royal Club and in our ownership and in safe-keeping in appropriate conditions."

Ah yes, the Titians!

Earlier this year, the The National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London, announced that Titian’s Diana and Actaeon has been acquired for the nation from the Duke of Sutherland, the acquisition made possible with donations from Scottish Government, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Monument Trust, The Art Fund charity and National Gallery, London and National Galleries of Scotland funds, as well as contributions from the general public.

It is said that Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, both painted by Italian Renaissance artist Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) in the 16th century, rank among the greatest works of art on display anywhere in the world. They are part of the Bridgewater Collection which has been on loan from the Duke of Sutherland to the National Galleries of Scotland since 1945.

Diana and Actaeon was bought for £50 million. The National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London, now have the opportunity to acquire Diana and Callisto by 2012 for another £50 million.

The paintings are currently in London, but I made a point of going to see them when they were on display in Edinburgh in August. Was I excited to see two of the 'greatest works of art on display anywhere in the world'? I was not. Try as I did, I just could not appreciate these paintings at all, and I could not see why they could be so valuable. I left thinking that to spend this sort of money on a bit of wallpaper is obscene. I guess I will never be an art lover!

Given the fundraising efforts that are currently ongoing for the new rinks at Cupar and Kinross, I was interested to read how the £50 million had been raised, see here.

Currently on show in the National Galleries, in a pride of place position just as you enter, is Charles Lees's other famous painting The Golfers. It would be nice to think that the Grand Match on Linlithgow Loch would one day hang together with its companion. But I suspect that this will never happen. Unless we just GIVE the Grand Match painting to the National Gallery of Scotland. Or should Sotheby's just be asked to put it up for auction, and the money gained go towards the National Curling Academy at Kinross? Or is doing nothing at present the correct option? Decisions, decisions!

Pics © Skip Cottage. The reproduction of Lees's painting is from the Scottish Curler archive.

Sweep Magazine goes digital

I am interested in the news that Canada's SWEEP! magazine is to do away with a print edition and will be published entirely online in future. It was the idea that the former publishers of the Scottish Curler toyed with at the end of last season.

SWEEP! has decided to go down that road. The magazine's website here, says, "SWEEP! believes that it is time to embrace the future -- and for a niche market publication like ours, that means adopting a digital format. So SWEEP! is becoming paperless. We are becoming ... SWEEP! dMag."

"SWEEP! dMag will be viewed on your computer monitor. Pages will be seen by you as two-page spreads, and pages will turn from spread to spread in a similar fashion to a paper version. But that is where the appearance's similarity ends. Fewer columns. More white space. Bigger print. More sub-headings. More spectacular photography. Our pool of writers will be back ... and more writers added. SWEEP! will have more pages in most issues. In the paper world, SWEEP! was a 32-page product ... two 'signature sheets' on a web press. In the new-look SWEEP!, typically there will be about 50 pages. And SWEEP! will have more issues per season ... eight (8) for this season. Further, no more will readers have the arrival of their SWEEP! copy controlled by the vagaries of the postal system. In the digital world, everyone gets SWEEP! at exactly the same time worldwide."

I wish those involved with SWEEP! dMag every success. It sounds great. The question is whether subscribers will pay for an online magazine, at $11.95 per year, although this is considerably less than the printed version was last season. No postage costs, of course.

I wonder.

But today I want to thank all the Skip Cottage Curling blogallies out there! This blog was looked at more than a thousand times yesterday, a record! Thank you. And to my five 'Blog Supporters' on the right who are helping keep me on the road and able to attend events, and provide photographic coverage from them. My 'retirement' has been most enjoyable to date!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eve wins in Mississauga

Congratulations to Eve Muirhead, Jackie Lockhart, Kelly Wood and Lorna Vevers who won the Three Nations Cup in Ontario this weekend! The results are all here. Team GB beat Stefanie Lawton in the final, having only lost the one game along the way, against Binyu Wang's world champions.

These are Capital One photos by Anil Mungal, with a big thanks to The Curling News!

There's a great article about the girls here, and George Karrys has another interview with them all, including Karen, here (look for the VIDEOS button, top right of screen).

David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Graeme Connal and Euan Byers did not fare so well in the Grey Power World Cup. They stole the last end in their final game against John Shuster's USA side to give them their only win in six games. Scores can be found here.

Eve's brother Glen can also be pleased with a good performance at the Meyers Norris Penny Prairie Classic. Muirhead, with Greg Drummond, Thomas Sloan and Michael Goodfellow, lost their first game in the A Road, before winning four straight in B against top teams, before losing two more and exiting the event.

In Oslo at the first of the European Junior Curling Tour events, all five Scottish teams made it through to the quarterfinals of the competitions. Only Colin Dick, Blair Fraser, Lindsay Gray and Thomas Pendreigh made it further, but lost out in the semifinal. The linescores are here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Scottish Mixed Doubles

I spent today at the Murrayfield rink watching the Scottish Mixed Doubles. It came down to a final between Logan Gray and Rachael Simms (on the left), and Tasha and David Aitken (on the right). So who won the title, and the right to represent Scotland in the World Mixed Doubles in Chelyabinsk, Russia, April 16-24?

The quarterfinals kicked off at 09.00. Here Rachael and Logan grapple with just one of the ends with lots of stones in play against Graeme Shedden and Claire Sloan.

Graham and Claire have the same puzzle!

David and Tasha came from three behind to score four in the last end of their quarterfinal game against Karen Strang and David Mundell.

It was just as tight in their semifinal!

But last years runners-up worked hard to steal the extra end....

... in their game against John Hamilton and Kerry Barr.

Meanwhile, Logan and Rachael were getting past Colin Campbell and Judith McFarlane on the other side of the draw.

Jennifer and Trevor Dodds had gone out in the quarters (just) to Kerry and John.

RCCC Communications Officer Kay Adams shows good style here but her pairing with David Soutar went down to Judith and Colin in the quarterfinals.

Despite yet much more hard work, Tasha and David...

... were not strong enough in the final game against Logan and Rachael, and went down 11-6 in seven ends. Hope you followed all that. If not, the linescores for all the games are here.

The Scottish MDs trophy was presented by Colin Hamilton, with RCCC Vice-President Robbie Scott in attendance. That pic will be on the Royal Club website here.

In my preview, I mentioned the English Mixed Doubles Championship which was also held at Murrayfield this weekend. The holders, John Sharp and Jane Clark, successfully defended their title.

Pics © Skip Cottage