I note that the entry forms for next season's Scottish Curling Championships are now available for download from the Royal Club website.
There are several notable changes in the pipeline. Colin Hamilton, the Royal Club's Manager of Competitions, has summarised these here. The Mini Tour is no more. Two of the weekend slots, at Lockerbie and at Hamilton, will become prequalifying competitions for the Scottish Men's. The first rounds of the Scottish proper will be as before, twenty teams playing over two weekends (December 17-19 and January 21-23) at Perth to find the top ten for the finals, February 14-20, as usual at the Dewar's Centre.
There's been a big rethink of the women's championship. The women's finals will now be a ten team round robin, with playoffs, alongside the men in February. If more than ten teams enter, there will be a qualifying weekend on November 19-21 at Curl Aberdeen. Depending on the entries, this weekend might become a straightforward weekend competition for the women.
The season is complicated somewhat by the World University Games, which will be held in Erzurum, Turkey. The curling dates within the Games are January 27 - February 5. This has brought the Scottish Junior Finals a little earlier than usual, to January 12-16. There will be qualifiers next season, and these will be played on the weekend of December 3-5 at Ayr for both the junior men and junior women to find the eight teams for the finals at Curl Aberdeen.
Entry forms have to be returned to Cairnie House by June 30.
There is always much speculation at this time of year as to who is playing with whom. I understand that Eve Muirhead will compete in both Juniors and Ladies' events next season, the former with Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Rhiann Macleod, and the latter with Kelly Wood, Lorna Vevers and Annie Laird. And with Olympic selections (if indeed that is the way it is to be done for 2014) still a couple of years away, it seems that Ewan MacDonald (pictured above at the European Championship) will skip his own team next season with Graeme Connal, Pete Loudon and Euan Byers. David Murdoch will play with Warwick Smith, Craig Wilson and Ross Hepburn. That's an exciting prospect, if the rumours turn out to be true!
Seems funny to be looking ahead to next season already, when the last is barely over. And if you already have your academic style diary, you can begin putting the dates into it from here.
Photo of Ewan © Skip Cottage