Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More outside

Here's a sight to gladden the eye. Mark Buchan, Secretary of the Haddo House Curling Club, has been in touch to say that fifteen hardy souls turned out on Sunday for a few ends on the Haddo pond just outside Methlick.

A couple of inches of ice on their artificial pond had frozen pretty well, although only one rink was used, the other having been affected by melted snow which had refrozen.

The 'no backswing' delivery is rarely appropriate on outside ice!

With freezing temperatures set to continue in the north of the country, hopefully there will be more curling to come outside.

Thanks to Mark for permission to use the photos above. There are more in his Facebook album here.

Ballater CC has also been outside, as I read here.

And today Gill Smith has been in touch to say that Strathendrick CC members have been curling on the Drumore Pond at Killearn. Pictures, or links, as I receive them!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Full house now for the Glynhill

Kristin Skaslien and her Norwegian team will take part in the Glynhill Ladies International at Braehead, January 15-17. The vacancy in the draw arose when the Canadians decided not to send a team to the event. Norway's inclusion keeps the number of participating countries at a total of twelve.

Kristin Skaslien will skip her team of Anneline Skarsmoen (fourth), Ingrid Stensrud (second) and Kjersti Husby (lead). The team will compete in section A and play their round-robin games against teams skipped by Anna Sidorova (Russia), Mirjam Ott (Switzerland), Kirsty Balfour (England), Judith McFarlane and Sarah Reid. More info is here.

Kristin played lead for the Norwegian team skipped by Marianne Rorvik at the recent Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Aberdeen. Pic © Skip Cottage.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Curling outside

With low temperatures in many parts of Scotland over the Christmas period, I've been keeping my eyes and ears open for news that keen curlers have been finding ways to play outside. The members of the Highland Curling Club maintain an outside rink at Kingsmills in Inverness. There are four sheets at the rink. They have a concrete base and are sealed with bitumen, and have been in operation for 111 years. They were completely refurbished in 2000, and new floodlights installed then. With only one exception, 2006-7, there has always been sufficient frost for curling.

This season has been no different! Here are members using the tee-ringer to mark out the house.

And here are members ready to go, outside their fine clubhouse. Thanks to Jim Brown for the pics. Jim advises that the club had three games yesterday (Boxing Day), and were set to play Nairn CC this afternoon.

Keen curlers are always welcome at Kingsmills, and anyone who fancies a game should just get in touch with Jim or anyone else in the club. The Highland CC has a Facebook page here.

This would seem to be a good time to flag up the project, headed up by Lindsay Scotland and David B Smith, to have an interactive map of all the places where outside curling has been played. Lindsay notes that they have now completed their first pass through all the places in David’s original list (which was a simple pdf file), and now 2454 places are on the map!

Have a look at the news information on the RCCC site, here. Lindsay says, "There’s lots more to do to make it more complete and accurate, and we also have plans to add pictures, but I think it is pretty impressive already."

As do I! But it's going to take a lot of work yet to get the maps accurate, and to the point that the information can be relied on. I searched for the Kingsmills rink, above, and I've posted the screenshot. Each map icon, when clicked upon, brings up a description, eg, 'Annual 1905. Photograph 1937; Rectangular curling ponds, probably tarmac, shown in OS 6 in, 2 ed; 1906. Perhaps still in use in 2009...'

No 'perhaps' about it! If the above photos are not acceptable as evidence, then there are further ones on Highland's CC Facebook album here, and the pics on this link here show play at Kingsmills last January!

And here are some pioneering curlers! There's no historical evidence, as far as I am aware, that curling was ever played on this little lochan near Cowans Farm, Kirkgunzeon. Here's John Munro showing good style, despite the absence of a crampit!

Young Grant Hardie was in action too.

Here's Grant giving ice. I like the use of an empty whisky bottle as a dolly! There are lot's more pics on Grant's Facebook album here.

Thanks to Jim Brown and Grant Hardie for permission to use their photos. Let me know if anyone else has been outside this holiday period.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas to all Skip Cottage Curling blogallies!

The blog will have a few days break to recover from the turkey. Back next week. You have a great time over the festive period.

But there's just one piece of business to attend to:

Remember Coo, my 'helper' at the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships, see here. After Aberdeen she ran off to start a new life in Germany. She has settled into her new home with five year-old Fotini (and a lot of new friends too) as seen in this photo from Niko, skip of the Greek men's team. She looks happy. And so does Fotini!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to Fotini and Coo!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The B Divisions

One of the disappointments I had at the recent Le Gruyere European Curling Championships, see here, was that I was unable to give more coverage to what was happening in the B Divisions at Curl Aberdeen. You see, these are huge competitions in their own right. You will know that ten men's teams and and ten women's teams competed in the A Divisions, but at Curl Aberdeen there were double that number of countries which fielded men's teams (twenty countries), and eleven that had women's teams taking part!

What competitions they turned out to be! Austria, the Netherlands, Latvia and the Czech Republic made it through to the women's Page playoffs (see how that was resolved here), with Latvia and the Netherlands reaching the final and gaining promotion to the A Division next year in Champery, Switzerland.

Section B1 in the men's competition was topped by Russia, who went nine games without loss. England and the Netherlands tied with seven wins, with the latter winning the tiebreaker to go forward. Section B2 was a little more complicated. Hungary was top of the group with eight wins, and three were on seven - Latvia, Ireland and Wales. The Irish (that's John Jo Kenny in the photo above) came through two tiebreakers, against Wales and Latvia, on the Thursday, before losing to the Netherlands in the Page 3-4, on the Thursday evening. The Netherlands then beat Hungary and Russia for the B title (see here). Netherlands and Russia will both now play in Champery, at the 2010 Europeans.

What has prompted this post today though is my effort to understand what will happen in Switzerland next year when the European event is reduced in size. I am indebted to John Brown, the well known secretary of the English Curling Association, for help. John is so often the person I turn to when I'm confused!

The plan for Champery and future European Championships can be downloaded here.

There will only be sixteen teams in the men's B Divisions next year. They will play in two sections of eight. The top seven in each of B1 and B2 at Aberdeen have places in ECC2010. The bottom three teams in each of the two men's B groups have effectively been relegated - Serbia, Lithuania and Greece from one and Belarus, Iceland and Slovakia from the other. These teams, plus any other countries that might enter, must now have a playoff to find two teams to go forward to Champery. As far as I am aware, no details of date and place of this playoff have yet been released.

Next year, the women's B will be one round robin of ten teams. The top four teams in each group at Aberdeen have gone through, and that has left Spain (from the group of five) and Croatia and Slovakia (from the group of six) to be 'relegated'. A separate C Group involving these teams (and any others) will produce two teams to go up to the B Division at Champery.

More information as it comes to light.

The ECF website is here, and the website for next year in Champery is here.

Here are a couple more pics from Curl Aberdeen.

The Latvian women in action against the Czech Republic.

The English men in action.

Hungary v Estonia

Pics © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Be smart. Stay safe

I remember the encouragement, "Oh hurry hard, Alex!" ringing round the old Crossmyloof rink in the sixties. The Torrance rink in full flow. 'Wee' Alex Torrance, 'Big' Alex, Bobby Kirkland and Jimmy Waddell were a colourful rink to watch, and a difficult team to beat back in these days.

This memory was brought to mind when I encountered the product shown above, being marketed by the US Curling Association as part of an AIDS awareness programme. The full story is here. And it did bring a smile!

Of course, back in the 1960s, HIV/AIDS was only beginning. Those of us who remember these times will recall how difficult it was to comprehend the scale of the problem, and the considerable disinformation that was rife at the time. The disease hasn't gone away. It remains a huge problem worldwide.

The primary goal of the Hurry Hard Condoms programme is to raise awareness about the need to educate people - especially youth - about the dangers of sexually transmitted infections.
So, the blog is pleased to play its part in so doing this morning! And plaudits to the United States Curling Association for taking a leading role. So, 'Be smart. Stay safe!'

Monday, December 21, 2009

Award for Ewan

I missed this last week, but I note that the British Olympic Association has announced the 2009 Olympic Athlete of the Year Winners. These awards were introduced in 2005 to mark the BOA’s Centenary Year and the success of London being awarded the 2012 Olympic Games. The BOA presented a trophy to each of the thirty-three summer and winter Olympic sports for them to award on an annual basis to their top performing athlete of the year.

Ewan MacDonald, third player in David Murdoch's Team GB, receives the curling award for 2009.

The full list of athletes which have been awarded the BOA Olympic Athlete of the Year trophy can be found here.

Talking of Vancouver 2010, the names of the competitors that have been confirmed for the upcoming Olympics are listed (or will be listed) on the World Curling Federation website here. Many of the women's teams are in the draw for the Glynhill Ladies Invitation, at Braehead, January 15-17, including USA, China and Japan as well as the best of the Europeans.

The draw for the Glynhill event has been made (see here), and a space had been left for the recently declared Canadian Olympic reps, the Cheryl Bernard team. However, that side has indicated that it is unable to take part. My own view is that it is their loss, as it would have been a chance to suss out their Vancouver opposition. Disappointed as the organisers may be that no other Canadian team is able to come to Scotland, there is now a vacant place in the lineup, and the offer to play will go out to the teams on the reserve list.

No word yet on which clubs or local curling teams are in the mix to get on to the ice with the Russian girls, see here. One Lucy fan club member has even sent a letter to Santa!

The photo of Ewan is © Skip Cottage and is from the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Aberdeen.

More Lockerbie

As promised, here are some more pics from yesterday at the Lockerbie Junior Invitation. We're in the semifinals here. Ally Fraser's team had topped the standings, undefeated in five games. Peter Macintyre's side had come through in fourth place, with three victories. Peter is in the white top, above.

The Macintyre side made Fraser and his team (L-R Stevie Mitchell, Ally Fraser, Scott Andrews and Kerr Drummond) do a fair bit of thinking in the semifinal, and when the Inverness side stole a three in the seventh it was all over.

The other semifinal matched Derrick Sloan, Bruce Mouat, Darrel Russell and Donald Ross against Grant Hardie, Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead and Cammy Smith. A four in the fifth was decisive for the Hardie side. Derrick is on the left.

So that matched Peter against Grant in the final. What a good game it turned out to be.

Here's Peter Macintyre

And the rest of the Macintyre team, Ruaridh Greenwood, Scott Fraser, Jamie Fraser.

Here's Grant Hardie.

Cammy and Kyle work hard on Thomas Muirhead's stone.

Hardie led 5-4 in the tenth. With his last stone, needing only to clear an open Macintyre counter to ensure an extra end at worse, he jammed it on to a back stone, and the Inverness team had a simple shot for their two, and the game!

The women now, the semifinals. Lauren Gray's team had lost a game in their section, but got through against Hannah Fleming's team on a draw shot challenge. Their semifinal against Anna Sloan saw the game turn in the second. Anna's attempt to count a two went horribly wrong and she gave up a three against the head to trail 5-0. Anna, Claire Hamilton, Vicki Adams and Rhiann Macleod fought back to 5-4, but that was the nearest they got. Team Gray was in the final.

Jennifer Dodds' team came through against Gina Aitken, Katy Richardson, Zoe Bain and Claire Lang in a game that was tight until the last stones.

That matched Gray against Dodds for the trophy.

Lauren had recruited Megan Priestley (on left) to cover for Claire MacDonald, who was unavailable for the Lockerbie competition.

Tasha Aitken played third, Megan second and Caitlin Barr was lead. Here they are working hard on their skip's stone in the final.

Here's Jennifer Dodds

And the rest of the team L-R Kimberley Smith (3rd), Mhairi Anderson (lead) and Kirsten McNay (2nd).

Here Megan and Caitlin look after their skip's stone in the final. The Gray side always seemed to have the edge, leading 4-1 at the halfway stage.

Here's a last photo of Lauren, without her trademark headband!

Pics © Skip Cottage

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lockerbie winners

Lauren Gray's team won the Lockerbie Junior Invitation today, defeating Jennifer Dodds' side in the final. Marion Murdoch presents the Murdoch Salver trophy to L-R: Megan Priestley (2nd), Tasha Aitken (3rd), Lauren Gray (skip) and Caitlin Barr (lead).

Tucker McGuinness, of Ample Diner, representing all ten of the sponsors of the event, presents the Challenge trophy to L-R: Jamie Fraser (lead), Scott Fraser (3rd), Peter Macintyre (skip) and Ruaridh Greenwood (second). Peter's team beat Grant Hardie's side at the last stone of the final.

More photos from the final day of the event here tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lockerbie Junior Invitation

The ice has been busy at the Lockerbie rink this weekend. Even though some of the top junior men's teams were unavailable, competing in the Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship qualifiers, eight teams took part in one section, playing five games drawn at random. No fewer than twelve junior women's teams competed in two sections! That is a good turnout.

I'll have the results tomorrow. Meantime, here are a few photos of the action today.

Jennifer Martin encourages her sweepers as Helen King and Hazel Smith watch behind.

Lauren Gray and Gina Aitken

Iain Wilson's Kinross team of Hamish Geyer, Pete Howden and Fraser Thompson were here. That's Iain above.

Ally Fraser's team were looking good. That's Steven Mitchell encouraging Scott Andrews and Kerr Drummond.

Megan Priestley hasn't been on the ice much this season, but was substituting at Lockerbie.

Ewan Mitchell in the head for the Forfar team, in charge of Duncan Menzies, Alastair Stewart and Thomas Halder.

The inverness team was skipped by Scott Fraser with Peter Macintyre, Ruairidh Greenwood and Jamie Fraser. Here is the team at work!

Cammy Smith and Kyle Smith look after Thomas Muirhead's stone in the Grant Hardie side.

And here is Grant, in conversation with one of the stars of the junior scene, Ross Whyte.

And here are the Dumfries juniors hard at work. Chris Howat has played the stone and Ross, Zak Stewart and Cameron McNay all work on it hard.

Louise Mansion watches as Katie Murray and Kirsty Morton do the sweeping, with Amy Bilsborough in the head.

Claire Hamilton, Rhiann Macleod, Vicki Adams and Anna Sloan

This is the Naomi Whyte team, Sophie Jackson and Fiona Telfer sweeping.

Stuart Marshall joins Fraser Keil and Andrew Grieve in sweeping James Carswell's stone.

Eilidh Templeton and Jen Paul follow Helen King's stone, with Hazel Smith in the house.