Friday, September 30, 2011

Cardwell Garden Centre Braehead Open

The organisers of the Cardwell Garden Centre Braehead Open are attempting to stream the event, and also to provide online results. Unfortunately the Braehead website is down, so they have established a blog which will provide both of the above.

Go here to see the first efforts.

There is a short advert and then the curling appears.

Calendar Girl

Scottish curler Eve Muirhead is to be the face of the 2012 Women in Curling Calendar. The calendar has not had its official launch yet, but it's certainly getting talked about here in the birthplace of the sport. Well done to Eve for getting involved. It's all in aid of charity, in this case Shoot For A Cure Curling, the sport-focussed fundraising and awareness campaign of the Canadian and American Spinal Research Organizations (CSRO/ASRO). Shoot For A Cure, which is also supported by the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), is committed to finding a cure for spinal paralysis. The campaign also strives to increase awareness of the Paralympic sport of Wheelchair Curling.

The 2011 Calendar featured only Canadian athletes.

Brad Askew took the photos of the twenty-one year old Scot on location at Blair Castle and at the Muirhead family home in Blair Atholl, and in the surrounding woods! Brad is a fantastic photographer and has his own website at Brad Askew Photography. Taking photos of Eve Muirhead is of course a very hard job, but, then again, someone has to do it.

I look forward to finding out Eve's story on how she got involved with the project. As soon as I know who else is featured, and how you can buy the calendar, Skip Cottage Curling will have the details. For one thing, it will solve all your Christmas present problems! Consider today's post just Chapter One of this 'celebrity curler' story, which is a great deal more interesting than the fact Eve got attacked by a wasp earlier this month.

It would seem that this pose might be the calendar cover pic. Isn't it splendid! And if you look closely there's some very nice old stones in the fireplace! Both photos are © Brad Askew, and are reproduced here with permission.

Curling on Bargain Hunt

Something different for everyone today. Are you a fan of Bargain Hunt, the lunchtime television programme where two teams buy items at antique fairs and then try to resell them at a profit at auction? It may not be the Open University, but over the years of watching the programme I've learned a little about the world of antiques and collectibles. And it is just good fun.

Rarely though does something appear on the programme that I know anything about! That's Philip Serrell above, who was Wednesday's expert with the Red Team. The programme was filmed at an antiques fair at the Royal Cornwall Showground in Wadebridge. Running out of time, they bought a little Beneagles curling stone whisky miniature, empty of contents, for £4.

The programme presenter Tim Wonnacott discusses the teams' buys with the auctioneer at Jefferys Auctions in Lostwithiel, whose opinion it was that the wee decanter was of not much value. Indeed he noted that he would not usually sell such a thing on its own, but rather put it in with other low value items. It sold for £12. I call that a result!

I remember - despite it being a VERY long time ago - when I first added one of these whisky miniatures to my own collection of curling memorabilia. There were, and are, very common. Initially I thought, "When you've see one, you've seen them all." Not so. With time, I realised that there was a whole realm of research to be done. Wednesday's programme has prompted me to document what I know, and what I don't, about miniature whisky curling stone decanters. My dissertation is on the History Blog here.

Now you all know just what a curling nerd I really am, but if you know something about Beneagles curling stone miniatures, then please get in touch!

The photos above are from the BBC iPlayer recording of the programme, which can be accessed until October 5, see here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The week ahead

I've already mentioned that the Swiss Cup Basel begins tomorrow in Arlesheim. The Scottish teams taking part are skipped by David Murdoch, Tom Brewster and Logan Gray. The matchup for the first games in the thirty-two team triple knockout is here. It looks as if there will again be webcasts from, see here.

Nearer home, the second of the Scottish Curling Tour events, the Cardwell Garden Centre Braehead Open, begins tomorrow evening. The draw is on this page. Thirty-two teams are taking part - and they are a real cross section of Scottish curling! In addition teams from Russia, Finland, Netherlands, Ireland and Wales are taking part.

After three preliminary rounds, the teams ranked 1-8 in each section will progress to the High Road Knockout. This will be played on Saturday evening, with quarterfinals, semis and finals on Sunday. There will be a 3rd-4th playoff in the High Road.

Teams ranked 9-14 in each section, twelve teams in total, progress to the Middle Road Schenkel, carrying forward their first three game results. They will play two further games – making five in total, except the 11th and 12th ranked teams after the fourth game, who will be eliminated.

Teams ranked 15 and 16 in each division will progress to the Low Road semifinal, which will be played on Sunday morning at 8.30am, with the final at 2pm on the Sunday. There's certainly something for everyone at the Braehead Open.

At Stranraer the Ladies' Branch Unders and Overs Competition is at the North West Castle rink on Saturday and Sunday. Twelve teams are in the draw for this, see here.

At the Taarnby Curling Club in Denmark, David Edwards, Kerry Barr, Scott Macleod and Louise Edwards will carry Scotland's colours in the European Mixed Championship. On Saturday, the Scots play Austria in their first game in the Red Section which has nine teams, including Russia, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Netherlands, Wales and Romania, as well as Austria, already mentioned. Eight countries compete in each of the other two sections. The website for the event is here if you want to follow how our team does in the week ahead.

Although the competition does not involve Scotland, the European Championship C Group Qualifiers will be played alongside the Euro Mixed.

L-R: Louise Edwards, Scott Macleod, Kerry Barr and David Edwards, Scotland's representatives at the European Mixed Championship in Taarnby. Photo © Skip Cottage.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Wider Issues Surrounding the Game

The season is well underway, and so is Skip Cottage Curling. Many of you have been on the ice by now for your first club game. I see that more and more blogallies are accessing the site every day, and I'm heartened by this. There are lots of curlers, in Scotland and further afield, who want to know what's happening in the curling world. And that's how I see the function of Skip Cottage Curling, to celebrate the various dimensions of our sport in the best way I can, on a daily basis throughout the season.

Yesterday was the deadline for contributions to the Royal Club's new electronic magazine, YOUR Curler. A letter was sent out back in July to, amongst others, all those who had been involved with me in my seven years as Editor of the Scottish Curler. It said, "A huge gap was left when the old Scottish Curler magazine ceased publication and since then there has been no other outlet for Club and local curling news, or the wider issues surrounding the game."

So, Skip Cottage Curling is not considered an outlet for the wider issues in our sport! Never mind the slap in the face that I felt when I read this, I found that last phrase a bit rich coming from the Royal Club which chose totally to ignore on its website Lord Doherty's decision in the Court of Session to award damages to one of its Scottish Champions who had sued the National Coach for defamation, see here. The biggest story of the year, but not even a mention. Can the Royal Club ever take an independent, unbiased view, I wonder?

If you want to discuss the wider issues in the sport, there is of course the Scottish Curling Forum. How much better could it be if some at the Royal Club got involved in these discussions? After all, the Royal Club has now embraced Facebook and Twitter.

However, we don't carry grudges at Skip Cottage, and I am on record as being supportive of the YOUR Curler initiative. I am looking forward to the first issue dropping into my email IN box. I understand it will go out to more than 7000 of the Club's members.

I do like to have the opportunity to discuss the 'wider issues surrounding the game'. I usually confine my own views to the occasional editorial, based on my own observations and what others who love the game say to me. There's a new editorial today, see here. I wonder if my own views therein will be favoured by Royal Club stalwarts. I suspect not.

I am grateful to my 'blog supporters' - my advertisers - who help me to offset some of my expenses. You will have seen many of them before, from last season. Braehead and Forfar Indoor Sports are two rinks that appreciate what I'm trying to do, as is Curl Aberdeen in the guise of the Petrofac Aberdeen City Open. You want financial advice, then I can point you in the direction of Ferguson Oliver. McMillan Hotels were the first to offer support when I started up the blog, and the Scottish Liqueur Centre, home to Bruadar and Columba Cream, is continuing its support, even though the company will not be the title sponsor of the Scottish Curling Championships this season. British Curling Supplies try to keep me looking smart, and is your source for curling equipment.

You will notice two new links this season. The first is to Ailsa Craig Jewellery, the place to head when you are looking for that elusive Christmas present for a friend or loved one. A wee curling stone, perhaps? And then, mindful that many reading the blog don't just play curling, I welcome Happy Golf as a blog supporter. Happy Golf has become the main web site in the UK and Ireland for amateur golf events. The proprietors have an offer for any reading this who might have accommodation available for enthusiastic golfers. There is an exclusive offer for Skip Cottage surfers/curlers of 50% discount on their Accommodation Listing. Link can be found here.

But what made the difference last season was the generosity of friends and supporters of the blog who gave generously to keep me on the road. It does not come easily to me to ask for help, but you all know how everything is getting more expensive these days. So, if you can spare even a few pounds, and want Skip Cottage Curling to continue, your support would be much appreciated. You can donate online, or my address is in the contact bar above. Perhaps those who are in the habit of pinching photos from Skip Cottage without permission and without posting a credit on their Facebook albums or blog might consider donating towards new, much needed, camera equipment. If all who do this were to donate a pound coin every time they remove a photo, I would have fewer financial worries!

Have a great season everyone!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Murdoch Loses to Ferbey

Just to complete the story of the weekend, I see that David Murdoch, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson and Richard Woods lost their quarterfinal match against the Randy Ferbey team at the Point Optical Curling Classic at Saskatoon yesterday. Tied in the final end, David Nedohin, who plays the last stone for the Ferbey team, made a hit and stick for the Canadian 7-6 win. Mike McEwen won the event.

Team Murdoch now head directly to the third of the Curling Champions Tour events of the 2011-12 season, the Swiss Cup Basel in Arlesheim. Tom Brewster and Logan Gray are the two other Scottish sides in this thirty-two team triple knockout.

The photo is of Team Murdoch practising at Greenacres in August and is © Skip Cottage.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday at Lockerbie

Here are a few more photos from the playoff stages at the Lockerbie U-17 competition yesterday. Just to explain, there were six sections of four. The top team in each section then made a group of six. These were ranked, the best two got a bye to the High Road semifinals. The other four played quarterfinals, the winners progressing to meet the teams that got the bye.

A similar process with the six teams which finished second in each section sorted out the Low Road. I've already posted pix of the High and Low Road winners here.

Although Bruce Mouat and Thomas Muirhead won their sections, they were not in the two ranked 1 and 2. They met in the quarterfinals, with Thomas's team proving stronger on the day - just. Bruce came up short with a draw for a second shot in the last end, which would have won him the game, then lost in the extra.

Here is the Mouat team in action. Thomas Halder and Angus Dowell work on Calum Greenwood's stone.

Gregor Cannon got past Cameron Bryce in the quarterfinals, thanks to a big four in the fifth end. All the results are on this page.

Lesley Young, Louise Joiner, Hailey Duff and Beth Dandie won the High Road 3-4 playoff...

... over Ross Whyte, Zack Stewart, Fraser Kingan and Christopher Howat.

Beth and Hailey wait for the X74 bus!

Ross Whyte

Ross again

Brad Askew and Matt Murdoch watch the games. Here Rachel Hannen delivers with Lauren McIntyre and Alison Fyfe in attendance.

Rachel has been selected to play for GB in the Winter Youth Olympic Games next year.

Thomas Muirhead will be her teammate, along with Duncan Menzies and Angharad Ward (see here).

Rachel, with Rachael Halliday, Lauren and Alison, lost out to Katie Murray, Sophie Jackson, Gayle Allan and Calum Wright (substituting for Kirsty Morton yesterday) in the Low Road 3-4 game.

Katie's delivery.

Here are the two teams in the Low Road final. Back L-R: Mhairi Paul, Kirsty Sloan, Lynn Paul, Niall Goldie (Lockerbie). Front: Andrew Neilson, John Ballantyne, Graeme Allan, Mark Guthrie (Lanarkshire). The boys were the stronger on the day.

Here are some photos of the two teams which contested the final:

Mark Munro, Bobbie Lammie and Connor Ballantye sweeping hard.

Thomas Muirhead watches his opposition in the final.

Gregor watches his stone, with John Fraser behind.

John and Kerr Waddell ready on their skip's stone. Young Kerr was substitute at lead this weekend for the Muirhead team.

Here's Thomas again.

Kerr delivers in the final, with sweepers John Fraser and Craig Waddell ready for action.

Connor delivers, with Mark and Bobbie his sweepers.

Did I mention there was a singles competition yesterday too? This was won by Andrew Neilson who beat Bruce Mouat in the final. Sue Stevenson presented Andrew with his prize.

Sue's new curling shoes are available from British Curling Supplies!

I think a special mention has to go to all the parents/drivers/supporters who are such an integral part of the U17 competitions. All in all, a great weekend. Super to see such enthusiasm on and off the ice. And the curling was good too!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Team of the Weekend

There was certainly plenty of curling to keep track of this past weekend. Who gets the Scottish 'Team of the Weekend' award from Skip Cottage Curling? (Rules published on request!)

Should it go to the winners of the U17 at Lockerbie, the unbeaten Gregor Cannon team, see here?

Or should the award go to the David Murdoch team, playing in the Point Optical Curling Classic in Saskatoon, see results here? David lost his first game in the A Road of this 32-team triple knockout. In B, the Scots won two more games, before losing and dropping to C, with one life remaining. There they won three more games, the last by stealing an extra end, to qualify for the quarterfinals. The competition carries on today, Monday.

In Oslo at the Radisson Blu Oslo Cup, Sarah Reid's team won three of their four section games, Canada's Heather Nedohin providing their one loss. It came to a tiebreaker, with the Scots losing out, going down (again) to the Canadians. All the results from Oslo can be found here.

Eve Muirhead's side also lost a game in their section, but won a tiebreaker, and then another qualifying game on Saturday - making four games that day - to win through to the quarterfinals. Yesterday they beat Bingyu Wang's Chinese side, before losing out in the semifinal to Canada's Jennifer Jones, the eventual winners. Is Team Muirhead my Team of the Weekend?

In the Radisson Blu men's competition, three of the four Scottish teams reached the quarterfinals. Jay McWilliam's team lost in their quarterfinal tie, but a great performance for the young side. David Edwards and Tom Brewster played each other in their quarterfinal game, with the latter coming though. Team Brewster then beat Sweden's Kristian Lindstrom to reach the final, but then lost out to Niklas Edin. TotW?

Could Skip Cottage Curling's "Team of the Weekend' be the other Scottish men's team at Oslo, skipped by Logan Gray? No matter that the Scots won just one of their four section games. They played against Thomas Ulsrud's Norwegian team, the rink that introduced the Loudmouth golf trousers to an unsuspecting curling world at the last Olympics. This game was a 'battle of the pants', see below, which took the sport to places that no curler has gone before, in the fashion stakes at any rate!

L-R: Harvard Vad Petersson, Ali Guthrie, Christopher Svae, Logan Gray, Torger Nergard, Sandy Gilmour, Thomas Ulsrud, Steven Mitchell. It gladdens my heart to see such enthusiastic members of the 'Ban the Drab' society! The inaugural TotW award goes to Logan, Ali, Steven and Sandy!

Many thanks to Logan for permission to repost this photo. It's a classic!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Winners at Lockerbie

Well done to the Gregor Cannon team from Stranraer who won the JEM Stevenson trophy at Lockerbie today, beating Thomas Muirhead's side in the final. Above L-R: Mark Munro (lead), Gregor Cannon (skip), Sue Stevenson presenting with Gordon Dinwoodie, Bobby Lammie (3rd) and Connor Ballantyne (2nd).

Here are the winners of the Low Road with Clem Maggiori, vice-president of Lockerbie and District Rotary Club, who presented the Rotary Shield. L-R: Mark Guthrie (lead), John Ballantyne (3rd), Clem, Andrew Neilson (skip) and Graeme Allan (2nd). The Neilson rink beat the local team skipped by Mhairi Paul by a shot in the final.

Pix © Skip Cottage. More photos from Sunday's play at Lockerbie up sometime tomorrow.

Death of Alan Johnston

Alan Johnston, who celebrated his 100th birthday in March, died yesterday (Saturday).

Alan was President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in 1974-75. He was presented with honorary membership of the Royal Club by Her Majesty The Queen at the official opening of Curl Aberdeen in 2005.

I took the photo below of him some eight years ago when he showed me his collection of curling memorabilia in a special room in his Aberdeen home. That was a great day, happy memories. Many in the curling world will remember him fondly, as I do.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lockerbie U17s Saturday

Twenty-four U17 teams were at Lockerbie today competing in the second of the five 'slams', the first being at Perth at the end of last season. It was really great to see so many young teams - apparently thirty-two are registered to play the slam competitions - a positive sign of the interest in our sport. Certainly the Lockerbie rink was buzzing today. The teams play in sections of four, three six-end games, and the top two qualify. The top team in each section plays in the knockout stages of the High Road. The second placed teams in each section qualify for the knockout stages of the Low Road.

The results and standings are all here.

Here are a few of the teams and some action shots from today. More hopefully tomorrow!

Ayr's Janine Philips and Shaun Rennie. Andrew Maitland and Rachel Ireland are the other members of this team.

Rachel Hannen, on the left, with her team of Rachael Halliday, Lauren McIntyre and Alison Fyfe.

Team from Greenacres. L-R: Ian Gibb, Ross McIntyre, Rachael McInally and Amanda Marrs.

Rachael and Amanda get encouragement from Ross!

Amanda in the head against .... (need a name!) (Thanks to those who helped. It is Chalmers Porteous from Dumfries.)

Good to see a Kelso team in the mix! L-R: Cameron Bryce, Neil Sutherland, Callum Potts and Amy Bryce.

Amy and Callum work on Cameron's stone.

Stirling's Alastair Mitchell (skip), Andrew Morton, Jack Brisbane and John Graham.

Lesley Young

Here's a better one of Lesley in the 'Smiles of the Day' category, with third Louise Joiner. Hailey Duff and Beth Dandie are the others in this Forfar team.

Gregor Bousie skips the Kinross team of Callum McFarlane, David Kettles and Drew Thomson.

This well turned out team is in black and white - their sponsors are the Black Bull Hotel! Local Lockerbie side, L-R: Cameron McNay (skip), Koren Boomer, Daniel Robson and Ellen Boomer.

Umpire Matt Murdoch in action!

Here's another local Lockerbie side. L-R: Mhari Paul (skip), Kirsty Sloan, Lynn Paul and Niall Goldie.

Bobby Lammie (left) discusses options with his skip Gregor Cannon. Connor Ballantyne and Mark Munro are the other members of this Stranraer team.

Photos © Skip Cottage. Please email if you find any wrong names!