Thursday, June 30, 2011

Who's for Moscow?

The European Curling Championships will be held in Moscow, December 2-10. Who will be Scotland's representatives then will be decided at a special qualifying competition at the Dewar's Centre in Perth, October 27-30.

The four men's teams and four women's teams which will contest for the right to represent us in Moscow have been decided and have (quietly) gone online recently on the Royal Club website. They are the teams skipped by Tom Brewster, Sandy Reid, David Murdoch and David Edwards, and Eve Muirhead, Hannah Fleming, Jackie Lockhart and Sarah Reid.

The European Qualifying Competition has not been without its controversy in the past. It seems that every year there is something new and different to get your head around. Those who like democracy, transparency, logic and adherence to regulations should again go and sit in a darkened room this year! Mind you, I know few Vulcans who curl!

Let's start with the regulations for entry (for 2011-12, see here) which say, "(i) If a playdown is required to find representative teams for the European Championships, the two finalist teams from the previous season’s Scottish Championships will be invited to compete in the European Playdowns. (ii) To be eligible to participate in the European Playdowns a qualifying team must have the fourth player and two other players from the previous season’s team that entered the Scottish Championships (excluding any substitute(s) who shall not count towards the eligibility criteria). (iii) The Head Coach, along with an RCCC Sub Committee for the competition, may select one or more teams to participate in the Playdowns. The number of qualified teams plus selected team(s) will not exceed four."

However, it turns out that these are the rules which will apply next year. Colin Hamilton, the Royal Club's Manager of Competitions, explains, "The selection of teams was done on last season's rules ie top three teams. Next year's rules will be the two finalists, this was to give the two Head Coaches more of an input to who will play in these playdowns."

In the men's event, three teams met the criteria, ie those skipped by Tom Brewster, Sandy Reid and David Murdoch. The last has been forced to change his team recently, and it does not now meet the criteria, but it is not likely that this will change anything. David Edwards with his team of John Penny, Scott Macleod and Colin Campbell is the wild card team pick. This is a completely new team, untried in men's competition, but was picked for the Performance Squad.

Of course with any 'selection' there are those who could have been considered and might well be wondering why they were not. For example Logan Gray's team, also in the Performance Squad. Or even the Frazer Hare team, an unsupported side, which reached the Bruadar tiebreakers back in February, and has an eligible lineup this season.

In the women's competition, there were two teams which met the lineup eligibility of having the same fourth player and two others - Hannah Fleming and Jackie Lockhart. These will be joined by the Eve Muirhead and Sarah Reid teams from the Podium and Performance Squads. This means that all four women's team who are in the World Class Programme play off for Moscow.

I was pleased to see that the October competition will involve four teams of each gender, rather than three. Colin Hamilton confirms that those involved in the decisions felt that having four teams on the ice at the same time was better than having to give teams byes. The teams will play double round robins. It should be an exciting event. The draws are here.

David Edwards, whose mixed team won the European title last season. Photo © Skip Cottage.