Friday, December 30, 2011

Curling on the tram lines

The end of the year. Role on 2012! Actually, it's just fourteen days until the Winter Youth Olympics begin in Innsbruck, with one thousand athletes from seventy countries. The official website has lots about the Youth Olympic Torch Relay, but I cannot find anything (yet) about the curling rink that is being constructed within the Innsbruck Exhibition Centre for the curling competitions.

Make sure you watch what the volunteers got up to in a Freeze Flashmob video - on the home page of the official website, or externally here. One does get the impression that everyone at the Games is set for a good time! There's even a song, 'This is our Time', but there's no curling in the video (on YouTube here), so perhaps curling has not yet 'arrived' for EMA, the fifteen-year old Austrian singer? Europop fans can hear her performing live, here. And again here, with Yoggi, the Games' official mascot.

Samsung is a 'Worldwide Olympic Partner'. They have a 'Wake Up It's Everyone's Youth Olympic Games' campaign for the Innsbruck event, see here. They have a couple of 'Watch how we YOG' videos - the link is on the right of the page. One is a hilarious take on curling, and if you like that, the speed skating will probably bring a smile to your face too. The videos are also on YouTube here and here.

Of course, it you are of my generation and if all this emphasis on youth just makes you tired, then you may well appreciate the simple joys of collecting curling memorabilia. David B Smith has an alternate suggestion to collecting full size curling stones. Go here. Now, where's my spoon.

Hopefully the weather will be kind to those involved in the curling in George Square, Glasgow, tomorrow, see here.

And that just leaves me to say to all blogallies, thank you for your support in 2011, and I wish you all a 'Happy New Year'!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Last Word from Forfar

Whilst the U17 event, and the Slam, were working towards their exciting conclusions at Forfar today, in the three sheeter the Festive Under 13s competition was underway. Above, Jim Keillor with the winning team. L-R: Callum Wood (2nd), Adam Keron (skip), Blair Butchart (lead) and Ewan Barr (3rd). Well done!

Runners-up were Ryan Barron (skip), Jane Neill, Adam MacDiarmid and Campbell White.

Photo of the day! This is Jodie Duff, the 'hot shots' champ, with 24 points, ahead of Craig Barr (18 points) and Gavin Hay (14). Out of shot is Jodie's proud dad John, what with Jodie's success in one part of the rink and other daughter Hailey playing the low road final in the other!

Parents at Forfar today and yesterday, award yourselves medals. These 'young junior' events depend on your support. To be there to congratulate, to be there to console, but really, just to be there! Can't happen without you. Thank you.

Pics © Skip Cottage.

More from Forfar

The James Carswell team won the Forfar U17 competition earlier today, and they are also the U17 Slam winners - deservedly so, having previously won at Perth and Greenacres. Three events, three wins. Top show.

But I'm sure the boys won't mind me giving a special mention to the team they beat in today's final at Forfar. That's them above, L-R, Rachel Hannen, Rachael Halliday, Lauren McIntyre and Alison Fyfe. Their performance yesterday got them a bye to the semifinal, where they came from behind to count three in the last end against the Gregor Cannon team, and in so doing they scuppered the chances of Team Cannon winning the Slam. Spare a thought for Gregor Cannon, Bobby Lammie, Connor Ballantyne and Christopher Henry - they would be absolutely gutted. So near.

The girls would start the final as the underdogs, and indeed when James and his team got their noses in front 3-0 after two ends some wondered if the eight-end final would be a one-sided affair. Rachel, Rachael, Lauren and Alison had other ideas!

They had an incentive. If they beat the boys in the final, they would overtake the Katie Murray team on points, they would be best girls' team in the Slam, and they would be going to the World Curling Federation junior summer camp. Second place at Forfar would not be good enough.

The girls took one at the third, then stole twos at the next two ends, to lead 5-3 after five. They then dropped a big four, before taking a single in the seventh.

Even the hard working front end could do nothing in the eighth as they needed to steal.

It wasn't to be, and Rachel and her team were the runners-up on the day.

Top curler is Rachel Hannen. The genes are strong, as those who know her mother Izzie and grandmother Isobel (Torrance)! Off to Innsbruck in a couple of weeks to the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Take nothing away from the Carswell team. Here Peter and George work on Ben's stone.

Would you believe that James still has another year in the U17s if he choses to play next season!

"Steady, George, the bus will be along on this sheet at any moment!"

Well done to James, George, Ben and Peter. Good job.

And on other sheets, Andrew Neilson and Lesley Young contested the low road final.

Team Neilson won this one. Duncan Menzies presented the prizes to John Ballantyne, Andrew Neilson, Graeme Allan and Mark Guthrie.

And here are the Slam girls winners. L-R: Katie Murray, Sophie Jackson, Gayle Allan, Amy Bryce and Kirsty Morton, who played at Perth and Lockerbie but retired injured having come second in a fight with a bull. True!

Katie and her team watched semis and final today with everything crossed hoping their points total would see them through as the best girls' team, and indeed it did, just. You know, the Under-17 Slam has been a success on many levels, and seeing the many girls' teams playing against the boys, and getting stronger because of it, gives me a lot of satisfaction. It can only get even better thanks to the Royal Club's Talent Programme, and the new U-14 Slam.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Winners at Forfar

Congratulations to James Carswell, George McConnell, Ben Bremner and Peter Dagen who won the Forfar Under-17 event today, and in so doing secured the U17 Slam title. The Carswell team beat Rachel Hannen, Rachael Halliday, Lauren McIntyre and Alison Fyfe in the final which was only decided in the last end. It could not have been any more exciting. A special mention to the girls, who are going to be my 'Team of the Two Days after Boxing Day'.

Had they won, Team Hannen would have taken the Girls' Slam. They didn't, so that title will go to Katie Murray, Sophie Jackson, Gayle Allan and Kirsty Morton with Amy Bryce, alternate, whose record on points over three events just pipped Rachel and her team. So close! The Slam prizes are to be presented later in the season.

All the scores are here.

More story and more pics later - not sure how much later, it may even be tomorrow.

Above: Duncan Menzies, who will skip Team GB in the curling event at the Winter Youth Olympic Games next month, presents the replica solid silver, immensely valuable, Forfar U17 trophy, to L-R James, George, Ben and Peter. Photo © Skip Cottage.

Forfar Under-17s Semifinals

We're at Forfar Indoor Sports today for the playoff stages of the Forfar Under-17s, and to find out the outcome of the U17 Slam. All the results are here.

That's Rachel Hannen above, definitely a nomination for the 'Player of the Competition' so far. Her team got the bye to the semis, and faced the Gregor Cannon team this morning.

That's Bobbie Lammie in the head, Christopher Henry and Connor Ballantyne are the sweepers, and skip Gregor Cannon has been encouraging them on the draw. The Cannon team had already played in three U-17 events, and hoped to improve on their average with the James Carswell team hot on their heels for the big prize.

But first Team Cannon had to get past their semifinal opposition, the Hannen side.

Lauren McIntyre (2nd) and Alison Fyfe (lead) are the sweepers on their skip's stone in this pic. Rachael Halliday is in the head.

And here is Rachael, explaining to her skip Rachel, what a small margin there is between winning and losing! (Other captions are available!)

"What are you saying, big man?" "It's rude to point."

So, what happened? Gregor was two up at the last, missed his last stone, allowing Rachel to draw for three, and the win!

Meanwhile, Bruce Mouat's side was up against James Carswell's team in the other semi. High standard game, this one!

James encoourages his front end of Peter Dagen and Ben Bremner as he draws against four Mouat stones. Third George McConnell joins the sweeping.

Calum Greenwood delivers. Angus Dowell and Thomas Halder are the sweepers.

The Mouat team in action again. Despite all their efforts, they came second this morning!

So, this afternoon's final will be between Hannen and Carswell.

There's a low road, too. Lesley Young (above), Louise Joiner, Hailey Duff and Beth Dandie came through their semifinal this morning ......

...... against Gregor Bousie, Callum McFarlane, David Kettles and Drew Thomson.

This is the other low road semi. Don't you often wonder what skip and third say to each other? Gavin Barr and Fraser Ewen discuss options. Their front end is George Sinclair and Hamish Logan. The Murrayfield team came up second this morning.

Gavin was against Andrew Neilson, with John Ballantyne, Graeme Allan and Mark Guthrie. Here are the skips in the house.

And here are Andrew and third John. You can decide the caption!

Team Neilson will meet Team Young in the low road semi this afternoon.

Photos © Skip Cottage.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Forfar Under-17s

What is the final venue in the sequence Perth, Lockerbie, Greenacres, Hamilton ..............? It is of course Forfar, as the Forfar Indoor Sports curling rink hosts the last of the Under-17 events today (Tuesday) and tomorrow.

I've seen a little of all the 'U17 Slam' competitions this season, and what a successful series this is. The rink at Forfar today was bursting at the seams with twenty-two teams, and coaches, parents and friends. Just a wonderful atmosphere.

As I write this, the overall Slam winners are yet to be decided. The team with the best record in three competitions will get, as their prize, the opportunity to attend the World Curling Federation's Junior Camp in Fuessen, as will the best girls' team. We'll find out tomorrow who these will be. The current standings after four events can be downloaded from this page.

The format of these competitions has been six sections of four teams, playing three six-end games on the first day. The top team in each section goes forward to a high road, the best two on points and ends getting byes to the semifinals. The other four play two 'quarterfinals'. Second placed teams in each section play off in a separate low road.

This evening, Rachel Hannen and her team of Rachael Halliday, Lauren McIntyre and Alison Fyfe, and Bruce Mouat with Angus Dowell, Calum Greenwood and Thomas Halder, were the teams straight through to the high road semis. Gregor Cannon, Bobby Lammie, Connor Ballantyne and Christopher Henry were up against Alastair Mitchell, Andrew Morton, Jack Brisbane and John Graham in one quarterfinal, and James Carswell, George McConnell, Ben Bremner and Peter Dagen faced James Baird, David Baird, Simon Wood and Calum McLean in the other.

Find out how these games went, and all the other results, including the low road, here.

Behind the scenes at Kinross

Here are links to four short videos which show the ice techs at the Kinross Curling Rink performing mid-season maintenance work on the ice, with the aim of making it look brand new.
All courtesy of Andy Macpherson.

(1) A seventy second time lapse video of an hour-long 'pebble/cut x5' process being performed on sheet C. Go here.

(2) Another (short) time lapse video showing part of the flooding process is here.

(3) The view from the pebble can's hose. Health Warning on this, but if you DO want to watch it, go here.

(4) An unusual view of the Ice King cutting the ice, filmed from the blade! See here. Particularly for Santana fans.

Now, wasn't that all a bit different?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Curling on the radio

Judith McFarlane and Ian Keron hosted the Radio Scotland Scotland Outdoors team at Murrayfield just before Christmas.

So, for those of you who still like the wireless, have a listen to what happened via the podcast, here.

This podcast was uploaded on December 24, and will be available for thirty days.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all blogallies! Skip Cottage Curling will be back next week.

This image is from the Lake of Menteith Grand Match in 1979. The late Johnny Hibberd is the curler throwing the stone. © Skip Cottage.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hairy Farmers, Frozen Lochs and Eve Muirhead

It's not every day that I would recommend the Scottish Sun newspaper as your reading material, but this article by Matt Bendoris has an interview with Eve Muirhead and is rather fun! 'Big in Japan', indeed!

(Explanation needed for young blogallies? 1984. Alphaville. Listen here. Lesson over.)

Have you bought your calendar yet? See here if you haven't.

That's it from me for a few days. Have a Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wheelchair Curling Squad

Over the years, I've built up something of an archive of curling photographs. This comes in quite handy when I'm looking for a pic to accompany a post. Such was the case yesterday when I heard the news that Michael McCreadie had decided to wheel away from the World Class Performance Squad. The Wheelchair Curling Blog has the story here.

Michael's record in the sport is impressive. He has four medals from World Championships, two golds and two bronzes, and a Paralympic silver from 2006. He took a year away from top competition last season, but was back in the Performance Squad this year. But he says, "Since the summer, although playing reasonably well and achieving some good results in international competitions, my heart wasn't in it any more. The enjoyment had gone. It was not an easy decision to make, I had to do what was best for me and ultimately the squad." He adds, "I wish the coach and the squad every success in the future."

Tony Zummack, the national coach, is sure that Michael still has a lot to give to wheelchair curling. I hope so. And not just to wheelchair curling! The photo above shows the measure of the guy. He was one of the first to volunteer to represent Scotland at the Four Nations last season, when our governing body was unable to raise a team and planned to withdraw. He travelled at his own expense to Fenton's Rink in Kent to compete with the ABs and was in the winning side in the Tom Ballantyne Trophy. You can see him accepting the trophy in this post. I note he is to skip one of the men's teams in this season's Four Nations at Greenacres, January 21-22.

Michael, I know all about 'running out of steam' after being involved with something so intensely for years. Suddenly the enjoyment just goes, and you know then it's time to change. Best wishes to you for the future. I look forward to seeing you around the rinks!

So, where does that leave the World Class Performance Squad? The selection of five curlers from the seven remaining in the squad for the World Wheelchair Curling Championships is due to take place on January 5, although the panel's decision will not be made public until later in the month. The procedures are all laid out in the document entitled 'Selection Process for the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Team for the World Wheelchair Curling Championship' which can be downloaded from this page. The championship will be held in the Uiam Ice Rink, Chuncheon City, Gangwon Province, South Korea, February 18-25, 2012.

Top photo, from the Four Nations at Fentons 2011, is © Skip Cottage

Olympic Athletes of the Year

Team Brewster has been awarded the BOA Olympic Athlete of the Year trophy 2011 in the curling category. The British Olympic Association announced the list of recipients yesterday, see here. Well done to Michael Goodfellow, Scott Andrews, Greg Drummond and Tom Brewster, L-R, above.

The award was introduced in 2005 to mark the BOA’s Centenary Year and the success of London being awarded the 2012 Olympic Games. The BOA presented a trophy to each of thirty-three summer and winter Olympic sports for them to award on an annual basis to their top performing athlete of the year.

It is usually British Curling which puts the names forward for our sport. I do not know if that was the case this year.

It's the first time the award has gone to a curling team, rather than to an individual. Previous winners of the award were Eve Muirhead last year, Ewan MacDonald in 2009, David Murdoch in 2008, Kelly Wood in 2007, and Warwick Smith in 2006.

Here's part of a quote from Andy Hunt, Team GB Chef de Mission and BOA Chief Executive:
“The Olympic Athlete of the Year award celebrates the excellence of athletes who represent the very best of British talent in their respective Olympic sports. I wish all the award winners the very best as they enter the home straight of their preparations for London 2012, or continue their journey towards Sochi 2014.” Read more here.

The photo of the Bruadar Scottish Champions 2011 following their win at the Dewar's Centre is © Skip Cottage.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Curling: Chess on Ice and other stories

The first Winter Youth Olympic Games are getting ever closer. Indeed, the torch has been lit in Greece, read about that here, see photo here, and it's on its way to Innsbruck.

Click on the image above, or here, to see what Eve Muirhead and Uli Kapp are saying about being 'curling athlete role models'!

It's not the first time that Eve has been an 'ambassador', see here.

On the subject of YouTube vids, I rather liked this short promotional video by Thomas van den Berk, about the Anette Norberg team, the current women's world champions. Have a look.

Thanks to Logan Gray for bringing it to my attention. The film has been shot, in part, in black and white, rather effectively too.

Not that I'm usually a fan of black and white.

Nor is Logan. With help from his sponsors at Loudmouth, Logan and friends - you will recognise some I'm sure - hit Glasgow town centre recently, suitably attired and all different, see below. Wonderful. I'm sure my home town has never seen anything quite like it!

For the record, it was less that two years ago that the Norwegian men's team made a fashion statement at the Vancouver Olympics, see here. And of course they ignited a healthy debate about what should be worn on the ice! The argument still rages between the 'curling is colourful' supporters, and those who prefer 'black bin bag' attire. I hope that the former will dominate in 2012.

Lighting up George Square. Photo courtesy of Logan Gray. Many more in his Facebook albums!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This just in ...

Curl Aberdeen, Sheet D
Monday, December 19, 2011

From our own correspondent:

The curling world fell silent last night when David Kelly, playing third for Willie Jamieson in the Super League, drew behind a corner guard.

"I had always been told that's what they were there for," a still shaking Kelly said afterwards, "it's just that playing for Willie it never seemed to happen."

"It was just like page two in the Skol Book of Curling," an effervescent Jamieson quipped later in the changing room, after seeing off a hopeless bunch of nobodies 12 - 10 in a nail-biter that demonstrated conclusively that you can pay a terrible price for show-boating twice in the same game without actually losing. "The trouble is, I couldn't remember what it said to do next."

Rebecca Morrison (14), second player in the fired-up Jamieson squad said, "We were going to introduce split times tonight, but after the success of the corner guard we didn't want him any more confused than normal."

File photo of David Kelly who - as you can see - takes his sport very seriously indeed!

Pic © Skip Cottage


Monday, December 19, 2011

Building bridges with brooms

I've been following the first women's invitation curling event being held in Yichun, China, the Yichun Ladies International Cup. Molly Bonner from the USA's Patti Lank team has been recording her experiences in the Curling News blog, here, and this makes for an interesting read. (Click on the December 2011 link in the blog archive, to bring up all the posts).

Teams from USA (Lank), Sweden (Anna Hasselborg), Denmark (Madeleine Dupont), Switzerland (Silvana Tirinzoni) and Canada (Shannon Kleibrink) have been competing with three Chinese teams. The results are online here.

Have a look at this short video on CTV (it follows the advert). The curling rink in a warehouse certainly looks impressive.

And just to follow up from the weekend, in Canada, the Tom Brewster rink won two but lost three, so did not qualify for the playoffs at the BDO Canadian Open Grand Slam event in Kingston, Ontario. Mike McEwen's team, who came out of the Brewster section, see here, finished top in that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winners at Lockerbie

Well done to Anna Sloan, Lauren Gray, Alice Spence and Abi Brown who won the Lockerbie Junior Invitation event today. Anna was skipping in the place of Hannah Fleming. The team beat Katie Murray, Laura Ritchie, Sophie Jackson and Amy Bryce in the final.

Above L-R: Alice Spence, Lauren Gray, Marion Murdoch presenting, Anna Sloan and Abi Brown.

Congratulations to Blair Fraser's team which won the junior men's competition, defeating Stuart Marshall (skip), Thomas Halder, James Carswell and Grant Barr in the final.

All the results are here.

Above: Marion presents the trophy to (L-R) Hamilton McMillan (alternate), Struan Wood (lead), Thomas Sloan (skip and third stones), Blair Fraser (fourth) and Craig Waddell (second).

Photos © Skip Cottage

Curling on Landward

BBC Scotland's Landward programme on Friday featured a piece about curling, and the Grand Match. You can watch this on the BBC iPlayer here, until December 23. The curling bit is near the end of the programme.

I found it very interesting, particularly the old footage of play at Carsebreck in the 1930s (I think) and from the Lake of Menteith in 1979. Judith McFarlane gave presenter Euan McIlwraith a lesson at The Peak, Stirling. And Royal Club Director Trevor Dodds assured everyone that if we get nine inches of ice at Piper Dam this winter the Grand Match will go ahead. Apparently, we did have nine inches last year.

Six hundred teams played in 1979. So there were 2,400 curlers taking part. There were also extra rinks marked out and further curlers participated, unofficially, on these. At the very most, there were 2,700 players on the ice at the Lake of Menteith. Jim Paterson, convenor of the Grand Match committee, now tells us in the Landward programme that there was an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 spectators. I do not believe this to be true. Jim is suggesting is that there were two or three spectators for every player on the ice. I put it to you that exaggeration like this does the Royal Club a disservice!

But whether there were a few hundred spectators, or a few thousand, doesn't really matter. It was a great day, the experience of a lifetime. I know, I was there. There would be a lot more spectators if the Grand Match was to be held these days. How many would turn up to watch? I believe it is this uncertainty that is of particular concern to the organisers and to the emergency services.

There's an excellent article, on the Royal Club website here, written by Theresa McDougall, about the 1979 Grand Match, although the photos that once accompanied the text have sadly disappeared.

Top: Screenshot from the BBC iPlayer recording of the Landward programme, showing Judith McFarlane coaching Euan McIlwraith at The Peak.

Screenshot showing curlers at Carsebreck. I suspect this is the 1935 Grand Match but stand to be corrected. Look out for the steam train in the background of one of the shots. Carsebreck had its own siding for the special trains which brought curlers to the venue.

Screenshot showing the Lake of Menteith in 1979.


The first report of curling outside this season comes from Haddo House Curling Club.

Mark Buchan reports, "Several days of heavy frost in Aberdeenshire had left the rink near Methlick in excellent condition for a game. The ice was flat and true, although a dusting of snow had to be swept off, and mid game the snow began to fall again and led to the shortening of the rink and ultimately the game.

Two teams skipped by Roy Henderson and Mark Buchan played eight ends under the lights and, for the record, Roy was the winner.

Hopefully today was the first game of many over the coming months."

Let's hope so Mark.

Top: A well studied head. Above: Haddo House CC curlers! Photos courtesy of Mark Buchan.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lockerbie Junior Invitation Saturday

A warm welcome to this young Netherlands team. L-R: Wouter Gosgens, Laurens Hoekman, Floyd Koelewyn, Ezra Wiebe and Diederick Bontebal.

How have they been faring at the Lockerbie Junior Invitation? The results are all here.

Skip Diederick Bontebal.

The GB team were looking good in their blues today. L-R: Duncan Menzies, Angharad Ward, Thomas Muirhead and Rachel Hannen. They were playing in a men's section and this afternoon saw them against Ben Fowler's English team. No pressure for Angharad then! No problems either, as Team GB won that encounter.

Angharad is in the hack, with Rachel and Thomas her sweepers.

And here's Duncan.

So, what else wafted in front of the lens today?

Ross Whyte

Ross has teamed up with Robin Brydone from Perth for this weekend, together with Kerr Sands and Zack Stewart. Here Robin and Ross watch behind Thomas Sloan, who was skipping and leading for the Blair Fraser team.

Here's Blair.

Here's three of the Gary Cannell team. L-R: Daryl Russell, Gary, and Fraser Thomson. Fraser is having a 'wee nap'!

"What? Me sleeping? Never!"

Jamie Fraser delivers, Daryl and Fraser ready to sweep.

Jennifer Dodds

Murray Young

I wonder if I should mention to Lesley Young that sliding with your tongue out might be considered impolite in some cultures?

Actually, here is a little photo essay dedicated to Lesley, entitled, 'Life at an Angle'! The evidence?

First submission.

Second submission, with third player Louise Joiner.

Final evidence!

"Aaww, skip, it wisne ma fault!"

Elspeth Lean

Kirsty Sloan and Naomi Whyte are on Eilidh Templeton's stone ...

... and this could be their skip Hazel Smith. She's just shy!

Mhairi Baird

Anna Fowler joins in to help Lauren Pearce and Hettie Garnier get by the guard.

Struan Wood

I think Struan is explaining to me that 'two weight' is between the hog and the front of the house. Or maybe not!

Maggie Wilson encourages Claire Dagen and substitute for today, local curler Ella Paul.

Grant Barr can always be identified anywhere in the rink. Here he is ready to sweep with James Carswell on skip Stuart Marshall's stone. Thomas Halder is in the house.

All photos © Skip Cottage. Let me know if any names are wrong.