Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cortina beckons

The Capital One World Men's Curling Championship gets underway on Saturday in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Scotland is represented by the team which won the Bruadar Scottish Championship - Warwick Smith (4th), David Smith (skip), Craig Wilson (2nd) and Ross Hepburn (lead). These four curlers were our reps in Edmonton in 2007, finishing with a 4-7 record, ranked ninth. The playing order is changed this year, and the team looked strong all the way through the Scottish. Hopefully they will enjoy the worlds more this time. They are among the more experienced teams at Cortina.

In Edmonton, Ewan MacDonald was the alternate. In Cortina, David Murdoch will have that role. I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering how he will be used - just in case of injury, or to bolster the team if any of the players are not up to par. It is a long week, with eleven round robin games, and fitness plays a big role. We will see.

The event website is here. And you can download the full draw as a pdf file from here.

Team Scotland meets Norway in their first game on Saturday, their only game that day. Of course, the big question is nothing to do with the play. Rather, we are all wondering what Thomas Ulsrud and his team will be wearing! Now sponsored by Loudmouth Golf, the Norwegian team's colourful curling pants have been the story of the year! Those on the left seem to be one of the choices for Cortina! (Or perhaps not, see here)

Actually, if you go to the Norwegian team's website (here) you will note there is a news item about the filming of a comedy movie, King Curling.
King Curling is the story of a Norwegian curling champion, called Truls Paulsen. (Not an obvious link to any real curler, then!)

Truls is so into details and perfection that he develops an obsessive compulsive disorder for the game. Follow the link (to here) to see a promotion about the film, in which some of the cast try out the game. Run the video. Don't be put off by the fact it's all in Norwegian. Just watch closely for appearances by Dordy Nordby and Pal Trulsen, both wearing fancy pants! Wonderful, wonderful. The movie itself is set to come out next year.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Top Ten

As I was arriving at Curl Aberdeen on Sunday, several club curlers were heading down the road to Forfar for the RCCC Area 9 Top Ten Team Challenge. Sponsored by Ferguson Oliver, the format of the Top Ten Challenge is unique. Twelve clubs competed as rinks, triples and pairs in the first three sessions. Then four players nominated by their club competed in the final hotshots session. It all lead for a fun event.

Fothringham CC were the winners with Dundee CC second and Letham Grange third.

Mike Ferguson says, "I think this style of competition could easily grow and should be used by other ice rinks."

There's more about the event on the centre's blog here. This has been the first season under Mike's ownership, and by all accounts the rink has moved forward. And I should point out that Forfar Young Curlers Club has its own website here.

Ray Turnbull

What does the name Ray Turnbull mean to you? If you are a relatively new convert to the sport of curling you may only know of him as one of the analysts of TSN's television coverage of the sport. For example, you can listen to him on TSN's video-on-demand of Sunday's final, and other games, at the Ford World Women's Curling Championship in Swift Current, see here. That's him above with Linda Moore. Ray, Linda and Vic Rautter have been the commentary team for a fair number of years, but Ray is set to hang up his mike after the Worlds in Cortina next week. He's 70 now, and feels it's time to move over for a new voice.

You may not be aware that for many years before joining TSN, Ray Turnbull was an influential curling coach. Not all Canadians appreciated his efforts in hosting curling clinics in Europe and Asia, inspiring players and teams. In 1978, the Canadian team, skipped by Mike Chernoff with Ed Lukovich playing last stones, was beaten in the semifinals of the Silver Broom by a young Norwegian team, skipped by Kristian Soerum. Turnbull was in the stadium as one of the officials when a fan yelled down from the stands, "It's all your ...... fault, Turnbull!" Ray is quoted as saying he took it as a compliment.

Indeed, curlers in many countries benefited from Turnbull's expertise, including the Scots, when he was invited (by Richard Harding as I recall) to bring his curling clinic to Forest Hills and to Gogar Park. At the time, this was all rather controversial, especially to some of the traditionalists in the Royal Club. But his courses were great.

He was a good player too. I saw him in action as Terry Braunstein's lead in Perth in 1965, the year the Canadians lost to Bud Somerville's USA team in the Scotch Cup final. Seems like just yesterday! Enjoy your retirement Moose.

The photo of Ray and Linda was taken last week in Swift Current by Hugh Stewart.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Silver Scotland

Congratulations to Andrea Schoepp's German team of Melanie Robillard, Monika Wagner and Stella Heiss (above) who added the world title to their European success in Aberdeen. All credit to Eve, Kelly, Lorna and Annie who came close in a game that went to the last stone of an extra end!

Mike Haggerty's report is here.

Photos courtesy of Hugh Stewart

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Scottish Mixed Champions 2010

L-R: David Edwards, Claire Perras, Dillan Perras, Louise Wood, Scottish Mixed Curling Champions 2010.

Pic © Skip Cottage

Scottish Mixed Championship: Sunday 3

Duncan Fernie (in the red top) lined up for the final against David Edwards.

There were Duncan's women - Lynn Cameron and Michelle Silvera.

Colin Campbell played second stones.

You could not have written this script. The game direction looked to have been decided in the first end. Duncan's draw against a pile of Edwards' granite just slipped through the hole, a fraction heavy. Four went on the board to Team Edwards. Then, in the second, Duncan was just light and gave up two more, to go 6-0 down. Another single went on the scorecard for Edwards in the third. 7-0. Surely it was over?

The fightback started in the fourth. The Fernie team counted four, then stole two singles against the head. After six, it was 7-6 to Edwards! Then Fernie stole another two to be one up, playing the last.

David who - as one wag behind the glass put it - couldn't draw breath in the second half of the game, finally put a draw onto the button, for a single to take the game into an extra end.

It was Duncan's turn to have to play a pressure shot for the game. Needing to cut a piece of the four, he came up short. The game belonged to the Edwards' team. As I say, you could not have written the script!

Louise Wood played lead stones for the Edwards team.

Dillan Perras threw second.

Claire Perras was third.

And here's David. And with the win, and the Scottish Mixed title, they're off to represent Scotland in the European Mixed Championship to be held in (put your guess here.............) sometime early next season!

And there always has to be a caption competition. "Up a wee bit, Dillan. Left a bit. There, that's it. Aaaaaah!" Or perhaps you have better.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Scottish Mixed Championship: Sunday 2

L-R: Rosemary Arkley, Paul Stevenson, Louise Soutar and Fraser Watt. Team Stevenson were up against Duncan Fernie's side in the semifinals of the Scottish Mixed Championship at Curl Aberdeen this afternoon.

Here's Paul encouraging his sweepers.

Body language from Louise!

Here's the rest of the Fernie team. Lynn is throwing, Colin and Michelle ready to sweep.

So what happened. It was a close game, tied up coming home. With two lying against him, Duncan played a perfect chap and lie for shot, and his team's place in the final!

All the linescores are here.

Colin Dick was the youngest team in the last four.

Here's the rest of his team. Billy Morton and Alice Spence sweep Hannah Fleming's stone.

They were up against David Edwards, Claire Perras, Dillan Perras and Louise Wood, who were just too strong on the day. Here, Louise and Dillan are on David's stone.

Edwards v Fernie will contest the final.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Scottish Mixed Championship: Sunday 1

Well, we might all be having sleepless nights following Eve Muirhead's progress in Swift Current, but other Muirheads were in action today in the quarterfinals of the Scottish Mixed Championship at Curl Aberdeen. Indeed, they were involved in what was the 'big' game of the quarters against the Duncan Fernie team.

Above, Gordon Muirhead discusses with his son Glen options in the third end.

Glen plays last stones for the team. Karen Addison was throwing third, and Anna Sloan was at lead.

Duncan Fernie was skipping last year's winning team of Michelle Silvera, Colin Campbell and Lynn Cameron. With Tom Brewster they won the Euro Mixed title in Prague.

Here's the Fernie team, Lynn, Colin and Michelle.

I should say who won! The linescores are here. Fernie's side progressed to the semis!

Colin Dick, Hannah Fleming, Billy Morton and Alice Spence came through against Jay McWilliam, Lauren Gray, Struan Wood and Rhiann Macleod.

David Edwards (above), Claire Perras, Dillan Perras and Louise Wood were on top of John Hamilton, Alison Black, Colin Morrison and Jennifer Morrison - good to see some of these names back on the ice again!

Paul Stevenson, Louise Soutar, Fraser Watt and Rosemary Arkley edged Steven Eddie, Maggie Wilson, Andrew Dolman and Rachel Henderson.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Scotland in final at Swift Current

Well done to Eve Muirhead, Kelly Wood, Lorna Vevers and Annie Laird, with alternate Sarah Reid and coach Nancy Murdoch, for reaching the final of the Ford World Women's Curling Championship! The women beat Jennifer Jones' Canadians in the semifinal. Great performance!

Germany, skipped by Andrea Schopp, are their opponents in the final later today (Sunday).

Mike Haggerty's reports on the games are here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wii curling, Australian style

If you've not tried curling on the Wii, then your life is not yet complete. And if you are a fan of comedian Russell Howard you might well have seen the first show of the second series of Good News tonight on BBC 3. Thanks to him for alerting me to the existence of this YouTube footage from Australia! It shows Channel 9 Australia 'Today' show hosts Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson in action.

It's embedded below, or click here to see it in larger size. Enjoy!

Scotland progress in Saskatchewan

It's great to see Team Scotland doing so well at the Ford World Women's Curling Championship in Swift Current. Here are the standings after fourteen sessions:

Canada 8-1
Scotland 8-1
USA 6-3
Germany 6-3
Sweden 6-3
China 5-4
Russia 4-5
Denmark 4-5
Norway 3-6
Switzerland 2-7
Japan 1-8
Latvia 1-8

Eve Muirhead and her team of Kelly Wood, Lorna Vevers, Annie Laird and alternate Sarah Reid have yet to play Russia and Canada, these games later today. They have their sights definitely on the Page 1-2.

The armchair supporter has been reading Mike Haggerty's reports on the event here. There are photo galleries here and here.

And the top pic is from the online Eyeopener, the event daily newssheet. Find all the issues here. Larry Wood does a great job with this. I like the team interview features. You can find out which players have tattoos (somewhat too much information methinks) but also what each player thinks on the proposed rule changes. Ten ends or eight? Tiebreakers or no tiebreakers? Extra ends or no extra ends? These changes will be under discussion at the WCF meetings in Cortina. Interestingly, I see no consensus amongst the players in Swift Current.

What do YOU think?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wheels on Wednesday

With so much going on, I've been remiss in not tidying up the Paralympics wheelchair curling from Vancouver. You will no doubt know that the gold medals went to Canada’s Jim Armstrong and his team who held off a late rally from Korea’s Haksung Kim in front of just under 5,000 cheering fans.

Sweden beat USA for the bronze, despite not having their fourth player. I'll just state the official position from the WCF press release: "Yesterday during a Press Conference the Swedish Chef de Mission Hans Safstrom stated that Glenn Ikonen the fourth player on the Swedish Team who committed a possible anti-doping rule violation would not be able to compete for two years. At the request of the Swedish Paralympic Committee a hearing was held last evening with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in Whistler. This hearing was adjourned to enable the athlete to provide further information. His provisional suspension/disqualification remains in place until further notice."

Team GB finished with a record of just three wins from their nine games. However, there were memorable times off the ice.

Michael McCreadie carried the flag for Team GB at the Opening Ceremony.

HRH Prince Edward visited with the team and was supportive and knowledgeable. He is a patron of the British Paralympics Association.

Every athlete received a personal welcome card from local schoolchildren. One asked if the team would visit and they organised this on their day off! L-R: Tom Killin, Aileen Neilson, Angie Malone, Jim Sellar and Michael McCreadie.

What now for the team and their coach? It is interesting to read Tom Pendreigh's thoughts in this article.

Photos courtesy of Tom Pendreigh

Monday, March 22, 2010

More Schools

Some forty-nine teams entered this year's Scottish Schools Championship, Stranraer having the most entries with five. After local qualifiers, twenty-four teams contested the title at the Murrayfield rink at the weekend, playing initially in four sections: 1 Merchiston Castle Kelvinside Academy, Stirling High, Webster's High, Dollar Academy, Loudoun Academy; Mary Erskine, Stranraer 1, Earlston High, Millburn Academy, Bell Baxter, Garnock Academy; Hamilton Grammar, George Heriots, Stranraer 2, Longridge, Forfar Academy, Inverness Royal Academy; Strathaven Academy, Craigmount High, Douglas Ewart, Arbroath High, Pitlochry, Lockerbie.

Two qualified from each section and the quarters matched Merchiston against Mary Erskine, Hamilton against Lockerbie, Arbroath against George Heriots and Garnock against Loudoun. It was to be Merchiston v Hamilton, and Arbroath v Loudoun in the semifinals.

We can pick up from the semis with some photos. This is the Loudoun team in action. Skip Euan Cunningham is in the head, and that's Mark Guthrie, Kirsty Morton and Eilidh Drummond all sweeping. It was to no avail, as their opposition on the day, Arbroath, were too strong and ran out easy winners.

The other semifinal between Hamilton and Merchiston was a much tighter affair, and the game could have gone either way. That's the Hamilton team in action. It's John Ballantyne's stone which is being swept by Rachel Hannen and Craig Waddell. Skip Kyle Waddell is in the head.

The game went to an extra end after Hardie's takeout in the eighth clipped a guard. Then in the extra, his first took a horrendous pickup and removed his own shot stone. Waddell put a third Hamilton stone in play, leaving the Merchiston skip a real pressure draw to the four foot for the game! He made it perfectly.

So this is how the teams lined up for the final. Merchiston Castle: Grant Hardie, Hamilton McMillan, Alastair Brunton and Mark Munro.

Arbroath Academy: Duncan Menzies, Robert Fawns, Alistair Stewart, Angus Dowell

The skips.

The Merchiston team were really up for the final. This is young Hammy.

Mark and Hammy look after Alastair's stone.

Grant Hardie

The pundits behind the glass all thought that Duncan called too aggressive a game early on, and his team fell 4-0 behind.

Front end Angus Dowell and Alistair Stewart work to bring Robert Fawns' stone past a guard.

Duncan adjusts his third's ice.

Duncan delivers.

This end was the end! Merchiston lies four, but Duncan is short with his draw to save, and Arbroath falls 8-0 behind. All the competition results are on the Royal Club website here.

And a caption competition to finish. Mark is saying to Alastair, "Just look at these blisters." Or, "I've got five digits, how many do you have?" (Other captions are available)

Photos © Skip Cottage

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A smile from Swift Current

I would imagine that some of the biggest smiles at the Ford World Women's Curling Championship in Swift Current tonight are in the Latvian camp. That's coach Brian Gray with skip Iveta Stasa-Sarsune, third Una Grava-Germane, second Ieva Krusta, lead Zanda Bikse
and alternate Dace Munca. The team won their game on Sunday afternoon against the USA. Latvia has never competed in the Worlds before, and Iveta and her team qualified for the top ten at the Europeans in Aberdeen, winning the B Division and then the World Challenge against Finland. Now they have won their very first game ever at a world championship!

Members of the Reform Curling Club, who visited Riga earlier this season, might like to think it was the practice they provided for the girls then that was the contributory factor. Perhaps, but most likely not. Anyway, this is a day that should bring a smile to the faces of all Latvian curlers. There's not that many of them! And I'm delighted for them all.

Anyway, what else made me smile a half a world away from Swift Current? If you have been following the continuing saga of The Norwegian Olympic Curling Team's Pants, whose Facebook page here now has 640,559 fans, you may already have seen the photo below.

The Norwegian team and coach wore colourful kit for the opening party at the Ford Worlds! I suspect that Loudmouth Golf is the main sponsor of the Norwegian Curling Association. If they're not, they should be. (And the company now has a curling pic on their website home page). See here for a great pic of Thomas Ulsrud and team.

Even some Canadian supporters have jumped on to the trend! Makes me smile. More, more.

Anyway, results and linescores from the actual event can all be found here.

Thanks to Hugh Stewart for the top pic and the one above. The Norwegian photo is from the Norwegian Association website here.