Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The World of Curling

Here are three little video clips which you might find interesting this morning, as summer is slipping away!

The first is a CBC feature about an international summer bonspiel in Beijing. Canada's Randy Ferbey took part. Go here, or just click on the image above.

The feature starts after a short advert. Pipers and kilts too!

Next up is a record of an exhibition game in the new facility at Adelboden in Switzerland. Go here, or click on the image above. Nice rink!

A Norwegian film, Kong Curling (translates as The King of Curling), is set for release in September. This link has the trailer with English subtitles.

According to, "The story revolves around one Truls Paulson, a former champion who cracked under the pressure of competition. Now heavily medicated and out of the sport he loves Truls must reenter the arena to raise money needed for his close friend's surgery. It's time to polish up the rocks."

I'm wondering if Kong Curling might gain the cult status of Men with Brooms, which, if you have never seen, make sure you do so before too long.

I note that former Olympic Champion Paul Trulsen 'likes' the film's Facebook page! Paul, who is the general secretary of the Norwegian Curling Association, has had some health issues recently. We all wish him well and a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New History Blog Post

There's a new post on the Curling History Blog this morning from David B Smith, see here. This will take you back to the origins of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club and asks the question 'Was HRH Prince Albert a Curler?'


Monday, August 29, 2011

Deadline for Unders and Overs

Earlier this month I wrote about the new date and venue of the Royal Club Ladies Branch Unders and Overs competition, see here. The event will open the season at Stranraer, October 1-2.

Note that the closing date for entries is tomorrow, August 30. If you would like to take part, make sure you are in contact with Cairnie House by then. I'm sure I don't need to remind you that the future of this event depends on the response it gets this season.

I'm trying to get my own diary in order, and I note that Stranraer will certainly be the place to visit early in October. The weekend after the Unders and Overs the North West Castle rink will host the Scottish Mixed Seniors Championship.

Royal Club Academy at Stirling

I thought the rink at The Peak, Stirling, was looking splendid yesterday, the ice technicians having stripped it back to the concrete and relaid the ice pad with a new paint job, minus the ice hockey lines. Almost sacrilege to be playing on it!

The Royal Club Academy teams (listed here) were there for a Squad Day. Team coaches and technical coaches were all involved too, the day being organised by Nancy Murdoch and Brad Askew.

So, the challenge for me now is to give a flavour of what was crammed into nine hours, from 09.00 to 18.00. Above is Katie Murray (whose team is Sophie Jackson, Gayle Allan and Kirsty Morton), and Gina Aitken (who'll skip Rowena Kerr, Katy Richardson and Rachel Hannen). Margaret Richardson watches the action.

Spot the coach! Jennifer Dodds, Susan Kesley and Becca Kesley. (Vicky Wright and Mhairi Baird are the other members of Jennifer's team)

Gary Cannell (skip of Jamie Fraser, Daryl Russell and Fraser Thomson) battles it out in a short game against Stuart Marshall (who's with Thomas Halder, James Carswell and Grant Barr) with Trevor Dodds, Claire Milne and Jane Marshall watching behind.

Lorraine Henderson with Duncan Menzies, Stuart Taylor, Angus Dowell and Robert Fawns.

Brad Askew getting things organised.

Nancy Murdoch here, with Norman Cathcart, Colin Morrison and Kerr Drummond.

Tom Pendreigh, Stewart Sturrock and Susan Kesley. Now for today's competition.

What is the collective noun for a group of coaches? Best answer gets submitted to this page. Suggestions so far include 'A wisdom of coaches', 'a chariot of coaches' a 'paper bag of coaches' and (top of the list so far, but unlikely to get 100% support) 'an irrelevance of coaches'!

Tom Pendreigh jnr, lead for Ally Fraser, David Reid and Ruairidh Greenwood.

Here's a lineup photo of Rachel Hannen, Rowena Kerr, Katy Richardson and skip Gina Aitken, with coach Margaret Richardson. I personally think the RCA uniform tops look very smart.

Here's a team wearing the men's tops: Colin Mouat, Ross Fraser, Derrick Sloan, skip Bruce Mouat, and coach David Aitken. Smart.

But I like the little touches that show individual nods to fashion. Here is a good example of matching nail polish with the colour of your brush. I'll not say who, to save any embarrassment, but I'll give you a clue. It's one of the girls.

All involved, all learning.

Trevor Dodds and Becca Kesley, in a lesson about Japanese culture.

Smiles of the day. Claire Milne and Judith McFarlane. (Judith straight on to the ice after running a 10k in the morning. Fit!)

Stewart Surrock and Nancy Murdoch working with Ally Fraser and team.

Competition time. Gary Cannell. Put an X on the photo to illustrate where the missing piece of Gary's equipment should go.

Coaches Albert Middler and Jane Marshall in serious mode as they study their team's stats.

Lorraine studies how well her team are hitting the brush.

Back to basics as Claire and Norman talk about grip and release with Fraser Thomson.

Sophie Jackson in a split timing session.

At 16.00 it was into the classroom. Brad Askew introduces yesterday's speaker.... an attentive audience.

Tony Stanger, former rugby internationalist, joined the sportscotland Institute of Sport in 2008 in the position of Talent Manager. He has a degree in Applied Sports Science and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh.

Tony gave an interesting presentation on our understanding of what 'talent' is, and the importance of mindset. Challenging my own ideas certainly, but again that's what sports psychology is all about. Carol Dweck's book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is now on my reading list.

So, how fit are the curlers in the RCA? The day finished with a bleep test, an assessment of everyone's cardiovascular fitness (see here).

I was quietly impressed.

Star marks on the day must go to one of the coaches, David Aitken. At 47 he was still going after most of the youngsters in his group had dropped out. That's what I call 'setting an example'.

All in all, a great day. Thanks to organisers and curlers for including me.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekend Results from New Zealand and Denmark

If you've been following the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games, you will know that Hungary's Gyorgy Nagy and Ildiko Szekeres won the Mixed Doubles tournament. The final standings are here.

Korea won both the men's and women's competitions. Kim Chang Min, Kim Min Chan, Seong Se Hyeon, Seo Young Seon, Oh Eun Su were the men's team who defeated China in the final (here), and Shin Mi Sung, Lee Hyun Jung, Lee Seul Bee, Gim Un Chi, Kim Ji Sun were the women's team, with China again the runners-up (here).

Peter de Boer, Scott Becker, Phil Dowling and Iain Craig finished fourth in the men's event.

Nearer home, in Denmark, the junior men's event in the Golden Danish Junior Open 2011 in Taarnby, the first event in the European Junior Curling Tour, was won by Rasmus Wranå's Swedish team. Norway's Kristine Davanger skipped her team to win the junior women's event.

The details are here, with a great pic of the two winning teams. No Scottish representation in this one, with our top teams involved in squad training this weekend... more about that from me tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A World Class Insight

The ice is down and today I headed for the Greenacres rink.

I had been invited to see some of the country's top teams in their squad training. I'm talking here about the teams that are in the Royal Club/British Curling World Class Performance Programme (see here) and the World Class Wheelchair Curling Performance Programme (here).

In this cycle that leads towards the Sochi Olympics and Paralympics in 2014, there have been significant changes in the way Scotland's 'performance programme' is being organised. Yes, many of the curlers are well kent faces, but much is new.

For the first time, all the various strands that make up 'performance' are being knitted together. For example, there's a new Talent Programme, and the Royal Club Academy Programme. More about the latter (probably on Monday) as I'm off to see these teams in training tomorrow at Stirling! Good to see the wheelchair curlers were on the ice, and in the classroom, alongside the ABs today.

It's important, I think, to emphasize that the divisions of the past between the Institute and the Royal Club - with 'Institute teams' and 'National Academy' teams - are history. There's ONE performance pathway. The role of the sportscotland Institute of Sport is to be the support network for the delivery of the World Class Performance Programmes. Indeed, there were many Institute staff involved today. It may seem perhaps to some to be just window dressing, but I do think that the changes, which have evolved from critical reports post Vancouver, are very much in the right direction, and good luck to all in taking it forward.

Let's put the politics aside. I enjoyed my day. I was made very welcome. It was fun being a 'fly on the wall' with the opportunity to see top curlers and their coaches in action. (Especially at Greenacres, where I did spent many of my own coaching years in the 80s. How things have moved on since then!)

Here are just a few pics - not comprehensive - to give a flavour of what was going on, and to show some - again not all - of those involved.

Colin Campbell and David Edwards here are working with Soren Grahn.

Here's Soren, the Men's Head Coach. A Swedish National Champion as a player, he certainly seems to be enjoying working with Scots curlers.

Scottish Champion skip Tom Brewster sweeping is not something you see every day! Here he is with Greg Drummond, working on a Scott Andrews stone.

They were being videoed by Simon Lovelock, here with Nancy Murdoch in her role as High Performance Coach (men), with the other member of Team Brewster, Michael Goodfellow, behind.

A more usual pic of Tom!

So much of the training I saw today was about technique, whether that was of delivery, or of sweeping. And that's as it should be, of course. Whose fingers are driving this camera?

They belong to Rhona Martin, the Head Women's Coach. That's Jackie Lockhart behind. Cate Brewster is the High Performance Coach (women).

Here's Jackie, and team coach Isobel Hannen, with Sarah Macintyre and Kay Adams doing the hard work!

This is an interesting piece of equipment being used by the wheelchair curlers to show the accuracy of their delivery line.

Tony Zummack is the Head Coach in the Wheelchair Curling Programme. I think here he is explaining two different options!

Tony was being helped on the day by Joan Reed and Albert Middler.

Tom Killin is one of eight curlers in the Wheelchair Curling Squad 2011-12, see here.

Team Murdoch were working hard. Here David delivers with Ross Paterson and Richard Woods in this pic.

Glen Muirhead is in the head, with coach David Ramsay keeping them right, even if it does look like he is holding up the Bellhaven advert for me to photograph!

And yes, I certainly approve of the team's new uniforms, unveiled this weekend!

Keeping a watching eye over everything was Dave Crosbee, the Performance Director of the World Class Programmes. Good to talk to him today. He gave a presentation to the athletes about Sochi, having already visited the venue. The curling arena there is expected to be completed next year, and he reminded me that it will host the World Junior Curling Championships and the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in 2013, as test events for the Games the following year.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Curling History Blog

History time today. That's the great Willie Young in the photo above, competing for Scotland in the 1962 Scotch Cup.

Back in June 2008, David B Smith and I set up The Curling History Blog. At the time we said, "We hope that in the months (years?) ahead the blog will bring together others who are interested in the history of this great sport."

I certainly hoped that one day there would be a small national museum devoted to the sport's heritage, to educate, entertain, and provide a focus for research. This hasn't happened (yet), and there are many who doubt it ever will.

One problem is that not many curlers are interested in preserving the sport's heritage. Why do I say this. Look at how few of Scotland's 14,000 registered curlers have donated to the campaign to save Charles Lees's famous painting (which you can do here). How can we galvanise others and captivate interest in the history of the sport we love? Perhaps the History Blog has a role to play. Anyway, today sees it relaunched, with a new header, and a commitment to post more frequently.

I have posted today about the 1962 Scotch Cup, having put together two short YouTube clips from the Scotch Whisky Association's promotional film of that event. I have to thank Leslie Ingram-Brown, who has an original reel of the film, for getting it converted to DVD. It's a treasure. Go here to find the links to the clips, and enjoy.

If you have suggestions of what aspects of curling's history you would like discussed, let me know, and David and I will see what we can come up with!

The photo of Willie Young is a frame from the 1962 Scotch Cup promotional film.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Glynhill Ladies International 2012

Over the summer months I've mentioned both the Edinburgh International (here) and the Ramada Perth Masters (here), as well as talking about the new Scottish Curling Tour (see here).

One competition I haven't mentioned so far is the Glynhill Ladies International at Braehead, the premier women's event in the calendar aside from the national championship, and the only women's Curling Champions Tour competition in Scotland. This season's competition will be held January 20-22, 2012, and the event website is here.

The organisers are hoping for twenty-four teams at least - it is certainly possible for the event to grow. There are still places, but the closing date for entries has not been reached. That is September 5. Entry information is here. Whether you are reading this in Scotland, in Europe, or even North America, and you think your team is of the standard to merit inclusion, or are still undecided whether to enter, then do get in touch with the organisers!

The competition continues its great association with the Glynhill Hotel, and receives support from a number of other sponsors, see here.

Edith Loudon is the main liaison with the competing teams and she confirms the Russian and Swiss sides that have supported the competition in the past are again in the lineup. Last year saw an entry from Latvia and these women are returning this season, as well as three teams new to the event from Finland, Germany and Sweden. Both Scottish Podium Squad teams, skipped by Eve Muirhead and Jackie Lockhart, are in the draw too.

Last year saw Sweden's Anna Hasselborg team win the trophy, and Anna has indicated her intention to play at Braehead again. So too has Mirjam Ott, Swiss winner in 2010.

Last season the contentious issues surrounding the Four Nations took me down to Fenton's Rink in Kent. That was a great weekend which I enjoyed immensely, but in consequence I missed the 2011 Glynhill competition. This season will be different, and I certainly hope to be back among the women at Braehead with my camera again in January!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pat is Chief Umpire in Naseby

Have you been following the curling results from the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games at the Maniototo Rink in Naseby? You can find reports, and the links to the results, from this page of the New Zealand Curling Association website. Here's another source for the results.

Royal Club President Pat Edington is the Chief Umpire. You can see him being interviewed in this YouTube video, or just click on the image above. Interesting to see shots of the rink in the video and good to see a couple of Latvian friends (see yesterday's post) Ansis and Dace Regza competing in the Mixed Doubles! Here's a report of play from the Otago Daily News. And this report has a photo of Ansis testing the ice thickness in the rink!