Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scots on Podium in Erzurum

It was a colourful scene at the presentation ceremony of the Nane Hatun competition in Erzurum, Turkey, today. This was the test event for the new curling facility, where the Winter Universiade is to be played early next year, January 27 - February 6.

That's the Czech ladies in first place. The Latvian men took silver. Well done to the young Scottish team though, finishing on the third step of the podium. Can you pick out Jeanette Johnston, chair of FISU's Technical Committee, with the medal winners?

L-R: Cammy Smith, Ruairidh Greenwood, Scott Fraser and Kyle Smith (skip) with Nancy Murdoch (who will also be the head coach for the GB curling teams at the Universiade). You have to say it's been a good day for the Smith family, with Father David (that sounds a bit odd!) winning the Euro Qualifying event and his sons Cammy and Kyle getting among the prizes in Turkey.

Photos are courtesy of Harold Forrester who was in Erzurum as the chief timer, training the local timers for the Universiade.

European Qualifying update

I have to complete the coverage of the European Championship Qualifying Competition by (re)posting this pic of Team McMillan (L-R: Hammy McMillan, David Smith, Ross Paterson and Sandy Gilmour) who will be our representative team in the men's event of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Champery, Switzerland, December 3-11. There is a summary of the Perth event on the Royal Club website here.

David Murdoch will be the alternate, a role he played at the World Championship last season in Italy. David Hay is the coach. I hear too that Kate Brewster will have the head coach role for the squad in Champery, not Derek Brown.

On a personal note, I'd like to thank those of you who have found the 'Donate Button' in the past weeks. Your contributions helped towards the new laptop I wanted (needed), and this got its first outing this weekend. Thank you all very much indeed.

That's me on the left, in a pic courtesy of James Hustler, with my new Apple Mac Pro. I should also say I'm wearing a new top from blog supporter British Curling Supplies. It's the new smart image (!) for Skip Cottage Curling. Thank you to Tom Pendreigh.

Fundraising continues. More curling stones should go on sale soon to help pay for a wee trip to Champery in December, all being well and I'm hanging together still by then. I just have a notion to check out the Swiss railway system, and will make that coincide with the European Curling Championships, to support the Scottish teams, and bring you my take on what's happening on and off the ice! I have a feeling that the WCF and ECF meetings might well be interesting this year. It was fun to be involved in Aberdeen - see here - although I won't have a companion this time. I wonder how Coo has fared this past year?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday selection from Perth

Well, that's it done and dusted much earlier than might have been, and Scotland now has its two representative teams for the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships. Here are a few more pics from the Dewar's Centre on Saturday, on and off the ice.

Gail Munro delivers, with Alison Mather and Kerry Adams-Taylor in attendance.

Glen Muirhead and Hammy McMillan


Hammy delivering, with Sandy Gilmour and Ross Paterson at the ready. Jill MacDonald, in the background, was on the umpiring team for the competition.

Warwick Smith

Ross Hepburn and Glen Muirhead work on David Murdoch's stone.

Happy Halloween to everyone! "Self portrait of Bob"

The new timeclocks were in action and working well. This is Ann-Maree Davidson. Now famous for .......... (I've been bribed not to say!) But the good news was that all the equipment was OK!

Ewan MacDonald gets down to it.

This is a caption competition. Team MacDonald. Clean suggestions please!

Bill and Cindy, and Sheila and Bill from the Plainfield CC in New Jersey were visiting Perth today and showing everyone what the well dressed mixed curling team should be wearing!

The explanation for this photo of Lynn Cameron and Brad Askew will become clearer in the next week or so. Just think 'New Year'!

Perhaps you will remember that James Dryburgh featured on some archive footage from 1991 on the blog recently (see here). Here he is at Perth today with his children Oma and Alexander.

Pics © Skip Cottage

European Qualifying Session 5: It's McMillan

This was the position going into tonight's session at the European Qualifying Competition at Perth. McMillan set to play Murdoch. If McMillan was to win it would be all over. So what happened?

The linescore is here.

The key shot for me was Hammy's raise takeout to make three shots at the ninth and take a two shot lead into the last end.

With a Team Murdoch stone half-hidden to take away for the trip to Europe, Hammy wasn't going to miss. Hammy McMillan, David Smith, Ross Paterson and Sandy Gilmour are on their way to Champery!

Scotland's women at the Euro Championship

Team Muirhead will represent Scotland at the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Champery, Switzerland, December 3-12. Anna Sloan, who played both games for the team yesterday, will be the alternate. Here are the girls! L-R: Anna Sloan (alternate), Annie Laird (lead), Lorna Vevers (2nd), Kelly Wood (3rd) and Eve Muirhead (skip)

Pic © Skip Cottage

European Qualifying Session 4: Muirhead will be in Champery

The second session today at the European Qualifying Competition at Perth was a repeat of yesterday's first round games, the second cycle of the double round robin. Eve Muirhead had Lorna Vevers back in her side for the rematch against Gail Munro. That's Lorna delivering in the photo above.

An epic battle indeed, the teams tied at 6-6 after eight. It went to an extra, with Gail holding last stone. Eve made a good freeze with her last. Gail chose not to follow and attempted a raise takeout. It didn't come off! Eve had stolen (again) at an extra end, and with that, she and her team are on their way to Champery!

The linescore is here.

David Murdoch, one win and one loss, was again up against Ewan MacDonald, his team winless in both his previous games. This was close until the seventh end, Ewan's last stone a touch heavy with the consequence of giving David two against the head, and a 5-3 lead. Ewan tied up the scores in the tenth.

David, with the opportunity to win with a last stone draw, didn't make it for shot. Team MacDonald had stolen the game!

The linescore is here.

Pics © Skip Cottage

European Qualifying Session 3

Hammy McMillan's team, with a win against Murdoch last night, faced Ewan Macdonald's side, losers in their opening match yesterday, in the 09.30 session this morning. Hammy struck early with a three at the second and was 4-3 up coming home with the hammer. It was to be another victory for Team McMillan.

That's the McMillan team above. Sandy Gilmour and Hammy are watching as Ross Paterson and David Smith bring in their skip's stone.

The linescore is here.

In the women's competition, Sarah Reid matched up against Gail Munro this morning, both having lost their games against Eve Muirhead yesterday. It was a one-sided encounter, and team Munro ran out winners 10-3 after just seven ends.

Barbara McFarlane and Kay Adams sweep their skip's stone as Kerry Adams-Taylor, Alison Mather and Gail Munro watch from the sideline.

The linescore is here.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Friday Selection

Here are a few of my favourite pics from yesterday. Above, Robbie Scott, Royal Caledonian Curling Club President, makes a presentation to Colin Grahamslaw in recognition of his time as the Royal Club CEO. Colin is now the WCF General Secretary.

Team Murdoch in action.

I'd be happy if I could take more pics like this one. That's Ross Hepburn and Glen Muirhead looking after their skip's stone.

Pat Edington is the chief umpire, here measuring with Hammy McMillan looking on!

What is the significance of the numbers on their backs? Suggestions are "Kelly's height in inches." "Eve's REAL age." Over to you.

Men at work. David Smith and Hammy McMillan.

You have to guess who these hardworking sweepers are!

It was good to meet the Royal Club's new CEO, Bruce Crawford, yesterday. Bruce was busy networking at Perth yesterday, getting involved in the big world of curling. A keen and knowledgeable sportsman, he's a family man in his early 40s. I wish him every success as he gets to grip with all facets of his new job.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Friday, October 29, 2010

European Qualifying Session 2

The two teams which sat out the first rounds of the European Qualifying competition at Perth this afternoon were on the ice tonight. Above, Hammy McMillan, David Smith, Ross Paterson and Sandy Gilmour had their first game against David Murdoch's team.

You will find the linescore here. Hammy controlled the game after counting a three in the fifth. He was three up coming home with the hammer. It would be a point on the board for the McMillan team.

Barbara McFarlane, Kay Adams, Kerry Barr and Sarah Reid faced Eve Muirhead's side in their first game. This was a close one, the teams tied 4-4 after eight. Team Reid took a single in the ninth. Eve had last stone coming home. She needed it, playing a cracker to clear away a frozen Reid stone to lie one, possibly two. A measure was needed, but the Reid stone was closer, and Muirhead only counted the single. It was into an extra end, the score 5-5.

The extra was messy with lots of stones in play and guards out front. Sarah had a difficult draw to cut the edge of the four foot to win, but she just feathered the guard and stopped inches short. It was another win for Team Muirhead.

Pics © Skip Cottage

European Qualifying Session 1

Who was on the ice for the first round of the Euro Qualifying Competition at Perth today? Game one was Munro v Muirhead, Sarah Reid's team having the bye. Above L-R: Gail Munro, Lyndsay Wilson, Kerry Adams-Taylor and Alison Mather. The linescores can be found here.

With Lorna Vevers unavailable for today's games - her sister was getting married - Anna Sloan was brought into the Eve Muirhead side at second. Anna of course is Eve's third in her junior team. Above L-R: Eve Muirhead, Kelly Wood, Anna Sloan and Annie Laird.

There was little between the teams until the seventh end, when Gail gave up two against the head to go 6-3 down. Her team fought back though, with two at the ninth. Eve had the game to win with her final draw in the tenth. Needing to bite the four foot to be sure, she slipped an inch too far. Extra end. Gail came up a little short in trying to hide with her last, and Eve had no need to play her hammer. First points on the board for Team Muirhead.

In the men's event it was Murdoch v MacDonald, Hammy McMillan's side with the bye. Above L-R: Ross Hepburn, Glen Muirhead, Warwick Smith and David Murdoch. Again, the linescores are here.

Above L-R: Euan Byers, Graeme Connal, Pete Loudon and Ewan MacDonald. Team Murdoch led 3-1 after nine. Five blank ends as Team MacDonald looked for a chance to get back. That happened right at the end. Ewan had the opportunity to count two to tie with his last stone, but rolled out. Game to Murdoch.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Team Gray in Canada

Scottish Junior Champ Lauren Gray (above) and her team of Jennifer Dodds, Tasha Aitken and Caitlin Barr, recent winners at Kinross (see here), are competing this weekend at the London Junior Cashspiel. This competition is held at the St Thomas and Highland curling clubs in London, Ontario, Canada. Twenty-four teams are in the junior women's event, playing in four sections (or 'pools'). There is a website for the event here.

The London Junior Cashspiel is one of a series of competitions which make up the Ontario Junior Curling Tour.

Photo of Lauren at the Kinross Junior Classic is © Skip Cottage

The weekend in prospect

Twenty-six men's teams have signed up for this years Bruadar Scottish Men's Curling Championship, and they are listed here. The first rounds of the prequalifying competition are this weekend at the Lanarkshire Rink, Hamilton, beginning on Saturday morning. The results will be found here.

I don't expect that I will see much, if any, of the play at Hamilton. I plan to be at the Dewar's Rink in Perth to see who will be representing Scotland at the European Curling Championships in Champery, Switzerland, December 3-11. Three men’s teams and three women’s teams will play double round-robins to find our Euro reps.

Those who follow the elite end of the sport will be well aware of the controversies raised during the summer months. On the men's side, none of the top three teams in last season's Scottish Championship was eligible for entry to the European playdown, and so three teams have been specially invited to compete. And in an ideal fair and open world, two of the teams that are at Perth this weekend should really be playing in the Scottish prequalifying event but, because of their selection to compete for a Euro place, they get a bye to the next stage of the Scottish. Such is life in 2010.

None of which should detract from the prospect of top class competition and close and exciting games at Perth! David Murdoch, Warwick Smith, Glen Muirhead and Ross Hepburn are up against Ewan MacDonald, Peter Loudon, Graeme Connal and Euan Byers. Hammy McMillan, David Smith, Ross Paterson and Sandy Gilmour are the third team in the mix. Can't wait! The first game matches Murdoch and MacDonald at 3 pm on Friday.

In the women's Euro qualifying, Eve Muirhead, Kelly Wood, Lorna Vevers and Annie Laird, who won the silver medals at the World Championship last season, meet Gail Munro, Lyndsay Wilson, Kerry Adams and Alison Mather in their first game on Friday afternoon. Sarah Reid, Kerry Barr, Kay Adams and Barbara McFarlane are first up against Muirhead at 8.30 pm tomorrow. Find all the results here.

The website for the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships is here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Team Fernie online

I am heartened that another team has picked up the gauntlet and set up its own website. Duncan Fernie, David Edwards, Richard Woods and Colin Campbell, with their coach David Ramsay, are online here, and you can follow their adventures this season. Bookmark their page.

The team is looking for a sponsor or sponsors. Interested? Check out the website.

Team Fernie is not the only team out there looking for sponsorship. Even the Canadian Olympic silver medalists were looking recently for help, and had hit on an interesting strategy, see here.

And what of Team McWilliam, the first to take up the challenge which I threw out in my October Editorial? Check that team's blog here to see how it's going.

Silver Bells

Angela Higson of the South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club and I were exchanging pleasantries (as one does) after a game recently. She was telling me about the best Scotch pies in the country! Important information, I'm sure you will agree, for Skip Cottage Curling to know.

Angela has sent the report below:

"The Silver Bell horse racing trophy was run for hundreds of years at Lanark racecourse, but there is a new Lanarkshire-based Silver Bell trophy now - for a very different sport.

Bells Food Group, the Shotts based family bakery firm, sponsored South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling club's first ever Pairs Tournament. Naturally a silver bell was deemed an appropriate trophy, given its Lanarkshire history.

For four Mondays, SLWCC members battled their way to the semifinals, and then the final last week. The winning pair were Gordon Rainey and Brian Douglas. In a thrilling match they beat Rosemary Lenton and Gerald Pocock. The game went down to the last stone of a playoff, the two teams having tied at the finish of five ends.

John Bell presented the new Silver Bell to Gordon and Brian, after they (and all members) had warmed up on some Bells pies! Every member also received a goodie bag of treats from Bells - iced gingerbread. (I'm suddenly feeling hungry. Bob)

It was a great competition to start off the season, and SLWCC thanks the sponsors for their support. The success of the competition will ensure the presentation of The Silver Bell Trophy becoming an annual event on our sporting calendar for many years to come."

So there you are. If anyone now asks you, "What is the connection between curling and the humble Scotch pie?" you know the answer!

And while I'm talking here about Wheelchair Pairs Curling, the Star Refrigeration National Pairs Championship is this coming weekend, October 29-31, at Braehead. Twenty-one teams are taking part, playing in three sections of five, and one section of six. The draw is here. Play begins on Friday at 5.30 pm.

The top team from each section qualifies for the high road semifinals at 12.45 pm on Sunday, with the final of the national championship scheduled for 2.30 pm. Second placed teams in each section play in a low road.

The photo of John with Gordon and Brian is courtesy of Paul Webster.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Edinburgh, 1984

We're back in 1984 for this week's rescued clip from the curling archives. So if I say, "All ice is equal but some ice is more equal than others," what is the connection? Answer below*.

Anyway, enough of the literary conundrums. The YouTube video, here, or click on the screenshot above, is from an early round game in the Skol Edinburgh International Championship, originally broadcast by Scottish Television. Graeme Adam's team is up against Canada's Mike Riley. I've edited the whole of the seventh end, plus a couple of shots from the ninth. If it seems a bit jumpy, I apologise, as I've removed all the stone replays, and in so doing I've got rid of my own commentary, leaving Brian Alderman to carry the description of what's happening. You're not missing anything, I can assure you. Enjoy this ten minute look back at the past.

If this video shows anything, it illustrates just what an improvement there has been in ice conditions over the years!

Look closely at the people watching the action behind the head. Recognise a very young looking Robin Copland? I'm sure he didn't realise then that one day he would be on the organising committee for the Edinburgh International. Indeed, he has just written a piece about this season's event on the EI blog here, and also about the Seniors' draw here. The draws for the events can be downloaded from the main event website here.

* The connection is George Orwell who wrote both 1984 and Animal Farm (from whence comes the quote 'All animals are equal but some are more equal than others').

Monday, October 25, 2010

Scots among first to try out new curling facility in Turkey

Turkey's recently completed curling facility in Erzurum will host a test event this week in advance of the Winter Universiade, January 27 - February 6. A young Scottish team flies out tomorrow (Tuesday) to compete against two local junior men's sides, one from Latvia, and four women's teams from Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic and Turkey.

Kyle Smith, Cammy Smith, Scott Fraser and Ruairidh Greenwood will play seven games. I note that there is a 'gold medal' game, presumably between the top two after the round robin. First games are on Thursday with the event finishing up on Sunday.

The exterior of the rink in Erzurum.

The interior of the rink.

Photos of the curling rink are courtesy of Mark Callan who laid down the ice for the event last week. It looks quite a facility! Thanks Mark.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scots abroad give good show at weekend

It is fun to follow the fortunes of our teams who have the opportunity to travel abroad - especially if they are doing well, as this weekend. Hammy McMillan, David Smith, Ross Paterson and Sandy Gilmour had an excellent run at the Bern Open, losing to Switzerland's Thomas Lips in the final of the thirty-two team event, see here. They beat David Murdoch's team in the semifinal. Tom Brewster (skipping Duncan Fernie's team) also reached the semifinals, losing there to Lips.

Sarah Reid, Kerry Barr, Kay Adams and Barbara McFarlane reached the semifinals of the Grasshopper Masters in Zurich this weekend, before losing to Mirjam Ott, the eventual winners, see here. They then lost in the 3rd-4th game to Andrea Schoepp.

Lauren Baxter and Hannah Fleming teams both reached the semifinals of the European Junior Tour event in Oslo before bowing out. The John Penny and Jay McWilliam teams both lost in short tiebreakers for semifinal places. All the results for that event are here.

A Young Curler Reports on the Grand Match

Guest blogger Jayne Stirling (16) reports her experiences of the Indoor Grand Match.

"Having read Bob’s October Editorial, I felt that sending him some of my photographs to be included in the blog was something I’d like to do, but I decided that in a very busy year (at school), undertaking anything more than I already have wasn’t the best plan. Today however, I felt that spending the whole day at the Indoor Grand Match as a volunteer would be a good opportunity to do a one off blog post.

With Dad as the photographer, and Mum helping with registering teams, it was a family effort from the off at Stirling this morning, as early a start as it was. Complete with my volunteer’s badge I waved the groups of slightly lost looking curlers over to the registration table, separating them from the swimmers, gym users, and Boccia players who were all sharing The Peak with us today. As instructed, the teams assembled at the end of the ice fifteen minutes prior to their game, and after a quick burst of the pipes, were welcomed by Stirling Development Officer, Logan Gray. The games then went ahead as scheduled, complete with a break for a dram after four ends. After the first session, the victors were University of Dundee and Fossoway Ladies from the North, and Gourock Ladies, East Kilbride and Haremyres, Corstorphine, and Currie and Balerno from the South.

As the teams from the first session headed up the stairs for their buffet lunch, the registration process had already begun for the second session, in which Dad and I would be playing with Falkirk Curling Club. After we’d taken the photos of the other rinks, and roped in some almost willing volunteers to take the photos of ours, we exchanged pin badges with our opponents from Stewarton Heather Curling Club, and started our match on a strong note, taking a two. Our fortune was not to continue throughout the game however, and we were three down at our half way break. Despite our efforts, the Stewarton Heather team were too strong. If anyone feels the need to see the final score, it’s available on the RCCC website! (Find all the scores here)

The other winners from our session were Ardclach, Glamis, Glasgow XX and Balcaskie, with Glenfarg Ladies and North Berwick Do’cot peeling seven all. After the match I enjoyed a slightly (read 'very') late lunch with our opposition, and was excused photography duties at the start of the third and final session in order to do so.

I enjoyed taking a few photos after my mid-afternoon meal, and watching Lesmahagow, Duddingston, A.W.W., Helensburgh and Stirling and District Ladies win their matches, and another peel being posted between Buchan and Holywood. I was overcome with curiosity as I was looking at the scorecards on the end of the barrier. I had no idea what A.W.W. stood for, so I asked one of their players and the answer put a smile on my face. My new favourite club name is 'Another Whisky and Water'.

After the refreshments had been consumed at the half way point, the volunteers cleared away the tartan clad tables, and Dad and I packed up our makeshift photo printing station (on the bed in the First Aid room). I thoroughly enjoyed my first Indoor Grand Match, and I am very pleased that I got to take part in many of the aspects of it, not to mention one of the best parts of any competition: reading the Skip Cottage Curling blog afterwards.

Thank you to everyone who made the first Grand Match I’ve taken part in such a great experience."

(Thanks Jayne! I'm sure all blogallies will think that your first guest blog post is excellent. I do. Very well done. Below are a couple of Jayne's photos too. I'm definitely feeling redundant!)

Hollywood CC in action

Who is this skip from Buchan CC?

Dad in his 'office'!

Top photo is 'broomstacking' at The Peak. Photos are courtesy of Jayne Stirling.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Indoor Grand Match Underway

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club President and Vice-President are piped onto the ice (by Graeme Coulthard) at the Murrayfield Rink at the start of the 2010 Indoor Grand Match today.

There was lots of action in the first session at Murrayfield.

But only one game in this session at this venue counted in the contest overall - that between the V-P's team, skipped by Pat Edington in the red, and the President, Robbie Scott, wearing blue, the colours of the North side.

Robbie and his team were in fine form and took an early lead. But the final outcome was a tied game, 10-10! You can find all the results from all the sessions at all the rinks on the RCCC website here.

Early news in from the Dewars Centre in Perth featured this Sorn CC rink. L-R: Jim Fraser, Eilidh Templeton, Sheila Kennedy, and Neil Kennedy (skip). Why are they so happy? The eight is the clue!

Here is the proof!

Traditionally the team which loses an eight is not named. However, I believe there should be a special award for all those who have to live though such a catastrophe! It should probably be called the 'Rhona Martin Try Harder' award, our Olympic Gold Medallist skip having herself lost an eight-ender earlier in her career! So there's lots of hope for the Breadalbane and Kenmore CC side.

Thanks to Tom Brydone for these pics from Perth. The ones from Murrayfield are mine. More to come, tomorrow.