Thursday, September 30, 2010

Weekend action

So, what all is happening this weekend? I've already mentioned the celebrations at Stranraer.

I'll be keeping my eye on Arlesheim, where three Scottish teams, skipped by Tom Brewster, David Murdoch and Ally Fraser, are among the thirty-two teams entered in the Swiss Cup Basel. It's the first competitive outing for Scottish Junior Champion Ally's new team of Blair Fraser (3rd), Thomas Sloan (2nd) and Kerr Drummond (lead). Great experience for them.

The Curling Champions Tour event is triple knockout with first games tomorrow (Friday) at 09.30, leading to quarterfinals on Sunday. Semifinals and final are not until Monday (08:15 and 12:15). Look out for webcasting too on the Laola1 TV site.

The event website is here for the draw and results.

I plan to look in at the Braehead rink to see how the Braehead Open competition translates into a weekend format. I hope too that the organisers have found another rink to fill in for the one that withdrew.

The same problem, a late call off, has beset the organisers at Forfar. There is now one space in the Forfar Open next Friday and Saturday (October 8-9). Contact the Forfar rink (details here) if your team would like to take part, or for more information you can email Jill Macdonald at the rink (jill /at/

Forty years for Stranraer

This was the photo that appeared on the front cover of the Scottish Curler magazine in November 1970. The caption read, "The bright and attractive new ice rink at Stranraer which Tom Stewart, President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, opened on 31st October. Part of the colourful mural, which is such a feature of the rink, can be seen." Well done to Hammy McMillan, snr, for his vision all these years ago!

I mention this today as the rink prepares to open for a new season on Saturday morning, October 2 - forty years of curling in the North West Castle Hotel rink. The Stranraer Ice Rink Curling Club has organised four sessions of curling over the day with 32 teams representing the majority of Clubs who support the rink taking part in an Anniversary Bonspiel.

In the evening there is to be a dinner, with guest speaker, Robin Copland, followed by dancing.

And there's more. Gail Munro says, "We firmly believe that the Juniors are the future of the Club and they have their own bonspiel on Sunday 3rd October starting at 10am with further sessions at 12pm and 2pm; a total of 96 players will mark the start of the next 40 years."

I first played at Stranraer in a weekend competition in season 1971-72. The David Horton team had a great time both on and off the ice and we were made very welcome, a welcome that continued over the years. We made many friends on that first visit. Indeed one of these friendships (with Johnny and May McFadzean, from Airylick, Port William) led to me being 18,000 feet up in the Himalayas some years later, as well as having many fun weekends on the ice in the 1980s. But that's another story!

Many great curlers have emerged from Stranraer! Let's join the celebrations today with the first of 'Great Hammy Moments' from the video archive. This dates from 1999 in Saint John, New Brunswick, the final of the Ford Men's World Championship. Canada was represented by Jeff Stoughton (skip), Jonathan Mead, Garry Vandenberghe and Doug Armstrong. Hammy McMillan's Scottish team was Warwick Smith, Ewan MacDonald and Pete Loudon.

This was a Canadian (CBC) feed broadcast by the BBC, retaining the Canadian commentary, Don Duguid and Don Wittman (and with the late Sandra Schmirler, I've also learned now). Kirsty Letton once again supplied the original VHS tape. I've edited just ten minutes from the game, see here, or click on the image below.

I hope you enjoy this 'great sporting moment'! And look out among the fans for Hammy snr and wife Janet, complete with knitting!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stirling Wheels

Most of my interaction with wheelchair curling and curlers has been at the competitive end of the sport. It was a delight then to receive an invitation from Logan Gray, Active Stirling's Curling Development Officer, to visit the rink at Stirling and see 'his' wheelchair curlers in action.

Wheels were first introduced to the ice at the Peak a year ago (see here), and the Stirling Wheelchair Curling Club will become a member of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club next month, the tenth such wheelchair club to be affiliated. That's Logan on the left in the photo above.

On the day I visited, Sheila Swan, the Royal Club's Adult and Disabilities Development Manager, was on hand to help with several curlers attracted to a 'Come and Try' session. One thing I did learn was that it is no easier managing a first time wheelchair curler than it is their able bodied counterparts!

Great to see so many wheels on the ice at the Peak. Coaches Sylvia Barclay and Fiona Glass were there to make it all happen.

There were even visitors from up the road. Maria Duncan was a visitor from the Kinross Wheelchair Curling Club, keen to get some practice and instruction as the season gets underway.

Did I say 'keen'? There cannot be many keener than Neil Hogg. He saw curling on a news programme on the box last year, came for a try, and has hardly been off the ice since!

John Fyfe is on the cue in this pic. I enjoyed my visit, and wish Stirling, and all the other wheelchair curling clubs, every success and 'good curling' this season.

It may be that out of these grass roots that our future Paralympians will come. I note that British Curling is seeking a registration of interest from any athletes within the UK who wish to be considered for the future Great Britain Paralympic Curling Squad. A series of events has been established to identify the best athletes in the country who may represent Great Britain at future Paralympic games. The details are here.

More on the Euro C Qualifying

Slovakia and Belarus have qualified to compete in the B Division of the next European Curling Championships in Switzerland, December 3-11. These two countries finished the six-game round robin at Greenacres in the C Qualifying Competition with 5-1 win-loss records. In the medal game the Slovakian team ran out 10-1 ahead, after just eight ends. That's the Gold medal winners in the picture above. The team is made up of the four brothers Pitonak, (L-R) Pavol, Frantisek, Peter and Tomas.

The countries that missed out were Turkey, Serbia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Iceland

Silver medal winners, Belarus: (L-R) Dmitry Kirillov, Dmitry Yarko, Pavel Petrov and Ilya Kozlovski.

Photos courtesy of Hugh Stewart

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Braehead Plans Curling Camp

David Horne, Braehead's Curling Development Officer, has been in touch to tell me about a curling camp planned for the October school holiday week.

Braehead Curling Rink will host the Camp between Monday October 11 and Wednesday October 13, 9.30am and 3pm each day.

One teenager, Stuart Cannell, 13, from Renfrew, is encouraging young people to give curling a try. Stuart himself has been curling for four years and says, “It’s great fun and you get to meet lots of people from different places when you play. It’s a young person’s sport and a lot of people my age play curling. I would say that young people should come along to the Curling Camp and give it a try. They might find that they like curling just as much as I do.”

The three-day Braehead Curling Camp is open to youngsters between 10 and 16 and costs £60.

The young people taking part will receive curling lessons from qualified coaches and also get the chance to play in a special tournament on the final day with certificates and prizes. Campers should bring their own packed lunch and wear a pair of clean trainers with soles that have a good grip and wear loose-fitting trousers – not jeans – and a warm jumper!

The details are online here. To book a place at the Curling Camp, call 0141 885 4611. You can also enrol by visiting the Curling Office at Braehead between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Sounds fun, and a great idea. May I ask anyone reading this in the Glasgow/Renfrewshire area in particular to spread the word!

Top photo of coaching at the Braehead Rink is courtesy of David Horne

Ayr rink upgrade

Ayr ice rink has had major improvements over the summer. Around £240,000 has been invested in a new floor, lighting and freezing plant, with sportscotland providing some £103,000 of this sum. A lift, to facilitate wheelchair access, is to be installed soon. In the photo above, that's Kate Mathews, representing sportscotland, at the opening last week. Provost Winnie Sloan cut the tape.

The plaque acknowledging sportscotland's contribution.

Rhona Martin was invited to throw the opening stone at the newly refurbished rink.

Photos are courtesy of Ian Mackin

Euro C update

Team Ireland beat Team Turkey in the medal game at the European Curling Championship C Division Qualifying Competition at Greenacres yesterday. Both teams qualify for the B Division in Switzerland in December. Congratulations go to (L-R) Carolyn Hibberd, Louise Kerr, Hazel Gormley Leahy and Mel Porter.

... and to Oznur Polat (fourth), Aysun Ergin (skip), Seyda Zengin (second), Melis Akyildiz (lead), Burcu Pehlivan (alternate)

All the event results can be found here.

These photos are courtesy of Hugh Stewart

News from the Land of the Long White Cloud

Once upon a time, there was a talented Scottish skip called Peter deBoer. Did you ever wonder what happened to him? I am pleased to report today that he is still playing, and winning, in New Zealand!

New Zealand's curling's first ever 'Cash Bonspiel' was won by a team skipped by Pete, who is now in Wellington, along with three curlers from the Auckland Curling Club: third Iain Craig, second Kenny Thomson and lead Haymon Keeler. Kenny will be known to many blogallies too. Well done guys!

Five teams took part in this inaugural cashspiel last weekend at the Dunedin Ice Stadium. You can read more about it here. Top flight events like this can only help progress the elite side of the game in NZ.

Thanks to our special New Zealand correspondent for this post!

A PS added later: Two blogallies have been in touch to say that Iain Craig is the son of Julia Craig who plays with Troon Portland CC. Iain learned to curl with TPCC Juniors at the Ayr rink before going to Edinburgh University, where he played with the University team and also with Corstorphine CC.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Turkey and Ireland women qualify

The Turkish women's curling team has qualified for the B Division of the European Curling Championships in Champery, Switzerland, in December. In the C Division Qualifying competition at Greenacres, the young team, all students in their twenties, went four games without defeat to secure their country's place. Ireland, whose only loss was to Turkey on Saturday night, is also through. These two teams will play off in a 'gold medal' match later today, but whatever the result, both teams have accomplished their goal of getting a place in the 'big event'.

The linescores can be found here. Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia are the countries which missed out.

The seven country men's qualification is ongoing.

The Champery website is here.

Team Turkey, on their way to a win over Ireland on Saturday. There's another pic of the girls in the Photo of the Month page above (or here).

Team Ireland. That's skip Carolyn Hibberd delivering, with Hazel Gormley Leahy and Mel Porter ready to sweep. Louise Kerr is in the head. Dare I just mention that Carolyn and I first met when we competed in the schoolboy (yes, really) curling league at Crossmyloof in the early 1960s, and she is a member now of Reform CC! Well done ladies.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Want to play this weekend?

Gary Macfarlane, the organiser of the Braehead Open, has been in touch to say that, due to a cancellation, there is a space for one team in the draw for the event this coming weekend, October 1-3.

He says, "The competition has attracted a very high standard of team and we presently have 31 out of a maximum of 32 teams."

If you have an interest in filling this slot then please reply ASAP to Gary at Teams are guaranteed four games at least, and the entry is £120.

The times of play for the first two games are 8.30pm Friday and 10.30am Saturday. It is an open competition with special prizes in the following categories: under 25s, best overseas, seniors, ladies, and Braehead members!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oslo Cup update

Hammy McMillan's team reached the quarterfinals of the Radisson Blu Oslo Cup this weekend, before losing out to Germany's Andy Kapp. According to the results sheet, the men's quarterfinals went ahead at 07.00 this morning. There should be a law against it!

David Murdoch made it though the quarterfinals but lost to Niklas Edin in the semi, the Swedish side going on to win the event.

Eve Muirhead and her junior team notched up a considerable scalp by beating Canada's Jennifer Jones in the quarters. The girls led Mirjam Ott at the half way stage of the semi, but finished down 6-4. Ott won the competition.

All the results are here.

For a flavour of the event, you could watch some of the archived webcasts from Laola1 Curling Channel. Or click the image below which is from the Linn Githmark - Eve Muirhead game.

Lockerbie U-17

This was the Lockerbie rink today, recently opened for the new season. I made it there to see the final games in the Lockerbie Under-17 competition, the second of the RCCC's Slam series for these young curlers. Bruce Mouat and Kyle Waddell (above) had skipped their teams to the High Road final. You can find all the results on the Royal Club website here.

Bruce Mouat is having a good season. His junior men's team won the Greenacres Masters last weekend, and his mixed U17 team was on form this weekend. Bruce with Derrick Sloan, Rowena Kerr and Elspeth Lean had won the first Slam event at the end of last season at Perth.

Elspeth Lean delivers, with Rowena Kerr and Derrick Sloan ready to sweep. They got off to a good start in the final, everything went right for them today, and they ran out well on top of their opposition this time.

 Kyle Waddell, always intense!

Alison Fyfe delivers, with Rachel Hannen and Craig Waddell at the ready. A good second place, and of course more points in the bag.

Here are the High Road winners with Gordon Dinwoodie who presented the Stevenson trophy. L-R: Elspeth Lean (lead), Derrick Sloan (3rd), Bruce Mouat (skip) and Rowena Kerr (2nd).

Duncan Menzies with Stuart Taylor, Robert Fawns and Angus Dowell finished third, edging Andrew Neilson, John Ballantyne, Graeme Allan and Mark Guthrie into fourth place.

Gina Aitken (above) skipped her all girls team to beat Thomas Muirhead's rink of Ross Fraser, Cammy Smith and John Fraser in the Low Road Final.

And here are the girls with Zoe Roberts, President of Lockerbie and District Rotary Club, with the Rotary Shield. L-R: Rachael Halliday (lead), Vicky Wright (3rd), Gina Aitken (skip) and Katy Richardson (2nd).

Stuart Marshall, James Carswell, Euan Dagen and Angus Bennie beat Ross Whyte, Zack Stewart, Gregor McMillan and Christopher Howat in the Low Road 3-4 playoff, at the last stone of an extra end.

Thomas Muirhead won the singles competition, with Ross Fraser the runner-up.

Photos © Skip Cottage

European Mixed Wrap

For those who have never visited the Greenacres Rink, it has the most picturesque of settings in the Renfrewshire countryside. It was a beautiful day outside, as well as inside, yesterday! And a big 'Well Done' to the organising committee, and all the staff at the rink. Given how little time they had to organise the event, the 2010 Euro Mixed can indeed go down as a success.

This is the final of the European Mixed Curling Championship. Scotland v Switzerland. Gioia Oeschle is in the head, with Kerry Barr and David Edwards behind.

Alina Patz encourages Sven Michel and Gioia Oeschle

David Edwards and Claudio Patz, the two skips

David and Kerry in conference!

Kerry Barr has a 'How did I get here' moment!

Claudio Patz discusses options with Sven Michel

Dillan Perras, Louise Wood and Kerry Barr look after their skip's stone

Bronze medal game now. Lana Watson in the head for England, with Germany's Rainer Schoepp and Andrea Schoepp behind

The German front end, Imogen Lethmann and Florian Zahler, pass the Championship banner

Alan encourages Andrew Reed and Suzie Law

The walk of the winners!

Winners Podium

Fifth, and fifth and a half, team member Claire Perras, plus chief supporter Luke Perras, join the team for this one!

Silver for Team Switzerland

Bronze Medalists - Team Germany

Missing out on a medal by the narrowest of margins - Team England

The Turkish curlers, new to international curling, have been a big hit since they arrived in Scotland, training at the Waterfront mostly, but also at Braehead as well as Greenacres, under the guidance of Scottish expat Brian Gray (back right in the pic above of the Euro Mixed squad). Brian has helped me with the names, which I promised I would get.

Here they are. Back (l-r): Burcu Pehlivan (alternate), Ilhan Osmanagaoglu (alternate), Didem Deniz (assistant coach, translator), Brian Gray (coach). Front (l-r): Ali Osman Sahin (2nd), Aysun Ergin (3rd), Kadir Cakir (4th), Oznur Polat (lead). 

All pics © Skip Cottage, except the last which is courtesy of Brian Gray

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Here they are L-R: David Edwards (skip), Kerry Barr (3rd), Louise Wood (lead) and Dillan Perras (2nd), the European Mixed Curling Champions 2010. I've not seen all of the games this week, but by all accounts the four Scots have played superbly, and today in the semifinals and final they were on fire. Well done!

I'll get down the road from Greenacres soon, once I've seen a little of the European Championship C Group on the ice, but it will probably be tomorrow (pm?) before I have more pics from the final session here on the blog. Please check back then.

Photo © Skip Cottage

Scotland wins Euro Mixed

David Edwards, Kerry Barr, Dillan Perras and Louise Wood are Mixed Champpions of Europe. The Scots beat Claudio Patz's Swiss side in seven ends of the final, a three at the third being decisive.

Germany won the bronze. In a game tied at 4-4 in the eighth, England's skip Alan MacDougall was just a fraction short trying to hide his last and Rainer Schoepp and his team had no need to play their final stone.

More later!

EMCC semi pics

Concentration is the name of the game! Andrea and Rainer Schoepp (Germany), and Kerry Barr and David Edwards (Scotland) behind. We're in the semifinal of the EMCC at Greenacres.

Scotland's skip David Edwards

Florian Zahler has delivered. Imogen Lethmann and Andrea Schoepp sweep.

Louise Wood and Dillan Perras, the hardworking Scottish front end.

Third Kerry Barr

Dillan delivers, Louise and Kerry on the brushes.

German skip Rainer Schoepp

England v Switzerland, the other side of the draw. That's Lana Watson and Gioia Oeschle running out of room!

Andrew Reed and Lana

Alan MacDougall and Claudio Patz

The Swiss in action - Sven Michel, Alina Patz and Gioia Oeschle.

It's Scotland v Switzerland in the final this afternoon. England will play Germany for the bronze.

Photos © Skip Cottage