Wednesday, February 29, 2012

World Juniors in Oestersund

I really enjoyed my visit to Oestersund in 2008 for the World Junior Championships. Aside from the local monster and the moose cuddling (see here and here), the competition was well organised in a great facility. The 2012 World Junior Curling Championships return to the Swedish town this year. Play begins on Saturday, and Scotland is represented by the teams skipped by Hannah Fleming and Kyle Smith. The women have Norway and Canada on Saturday, and the men play Finland in their only draw on the first day. The full preview is here, and the event website is here. Find the draw here.

I'll not be in Sweden this time, but I'm excited by the news that the World Curling Federation will broadcast some of the games via its YouTube Channel. The schedule is here, and I see that the Sco v Can women's game in Saturday's evening draw is the featured game. This is a great initiative, although I do have my fingers crossed that my experience with the webcasts will be better than it was with the Eurosport Player for the Europeans. Webcasting of curling events is in its infancy, but I believe it is the way the sport has to go. has set the standard this season.

I suspect I may well spend many hours next week glued to my computer screen!

Target 30 and other marathons

The photo above is the only image I have from the occasion when twelve Glasgow Young Curlers took part in the first curling marathon at Crossmyloof, March 7-8, 1970. I was one of them, and, with six aside, our target was thirty hours. That's the late Alfie Cron delivering the stone.

It was all great fun. Yes, we were tired afterwards, but with six members for each team to draw upon, each player was only on the ice for twenty hours in total, and it was even possible to catch some sleep. We did not realise we were to be the pioneers. After this initial effort, the curling marathons were taken up by the Guinness Book of Records, and the rules standardised. Future endurance marathons would be only four aside, as in a real competition, although five minutes rest would be allowed each hour.

The 'World Record' for a curling marathon climbed to beyond seventy hours, before sporting marathons in general were discouraged by those involved in the Book of Records in the early 1990s. It was all becoming just too dangerous.

Of particular note were the efforts of the Edinburgh Young Curlers who, in September 1981, curled for 72 hours and 11 minutes. This with just four aside! Their names were Robin Slack, Robert Pringle, Ewan Malcolm, Richard Pretsel, Andrew Beveridge, Ian Peace, Richard Lumsden and Martin Turner. Emma Malcolm trained with the others and stood by as reserve. (Are any of these still curling? Let me know.)

Hit Entertainment Group reintroduced the endurance curling marathons again in the new millenium, allowing five in each side, but with no reference to previous records. The clock was set back to zero, because there was now a different set of rules! Nonsense, really.

Now which is the real record, and the more difficult? Seventy hours with four aside, or seventy hours with five aside?

It's this denial of history that annoys me with current marathon efforts, such as that about to get underway at Dumfries at 10.00 tomorrow (Thursday). A physical challenge - yes. A fantastic fund raising effort - yes. An opportunity to give the sport much needed publicity locally - yes. But to call it a 'World Record'? Certainly not. That is denying what happened in the 1970s and 1980s.

I'm not going to say anything here about the dangers of marathon curling. I've expressed my concerns privately to the organisers. I just hope that all the ten curlers involved at the Ice Bowl will come through safely, and that no-one damages their sliding knee and jeopardises their future curling career. I admire the enthusiasm of all involved, and I support the fundraising efforts. I hope everyone has fun, and that there are no accidents.

The website for the Dumfries activities is here.

The Target 30 photo above comes from Carmunnock and Rutherglen CC archives. I am afraid I do not know the name of the photographer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Families wanted at Forfar

Are you part of a curling family? How about taking part in the Bonnyman Rosebowl at Forfar Indoor Sports on to be held on March 30, when the schools are off?

This is a fun sociable competition with rinks consisting of four players with a minimum of three having a family connection. It's a great opportunity for juniors and adults, male or female from the same family, to compete together.

Contact details for the rink are here.

Invergordon Success

On my travels to Inverness last week, it was great to run into Robin Wilson, curling reporter, and a steadfast contributor to the Scottish Curler during my tenure as editor. Robin continues to write about the sport for the local papers. He was telling me of the recent on-ice success of another friend, Allan MacLennan, ex Reform CC member and former Scottish Senior Champion. Last time I saw Allan, he was sidelined with a back injury, and wondering if he would ever be back on the ice. Robin writes:

"Invergordon Academy Curling Club, the infant club of the Ross and Cromarty Province, won its first Province A League Championship last week when they completed an eight game winning run to give them an unmatchable sixteen points with one round of matches still to play.

Invergordon could not have picked a better platform to celebrate clinching their momentous first title, a key fixture against the rink just below them in the table, the Province's most successful league club and skip since the Alan Moore Trophy was first played for in season 1963/64, Belmaduthy's Peter Fraser. Under the guidance of Allan MacLennan, the instrumentalist in getting Invergordon Academy pupils into curling and eventually forming a club in 2003 to join the Ross-shire Province and affiliation to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Invergordon became the first Ross-Shire club to deprive the Belmaduthy Club of holding the Allan Moore Trophy since Caberfeidh CC won in season 1997/98.

Invergordon served notice of their goal for this season's championship as early as last October when in the second round they beat the reigning champion, Iain Fraser. The win arrived during a period when skip Allan MacLennan was easing himself back into play after injury, taking the lead stones and the rink was skipped by Nigel Murray from Sutherland's Rogart club.

Before returning completely to the skips' stones there was a period he played lead and then went into the head to skip and that was the formation of play last week when with his two other regular curlers, Brian Batchen and George MacWilliam, they faced their final daunting challenge against Peter Fraser. MacLennan had the championship confirmed with a 10-7 win."

Top L-R: Nigel Murray (3rd), Allan MacLennan (skip), George MacWilliam (lead) and Brian Batchen (2nd). Photo © Robin Wilson.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Two events we missed

It has been a busy few weeks and I've been travelling the country, blogging lots of miles. Today is catch up day. Here are a couple of stories that have crossed my desk from last week.

That's Jimmy Waddell above. Jimmy was playing in the 'Grand Masters' at Greenacres, successfully as it turned out.

Here are the competitors. Click on the image for a larger size, and see who you can identify. Sixteen teams played in two sections under the Schenkel System, three six-end games, before the two section winners played off for the high road prizes while the two in second place took part in a low road. A very popular feature of the event is the Grand Masters Dinner, the main speaker this year being David B Smith.

In closely contested finals, Jim Waddell with Jack Muir, Tom Allan and John Veitch defeated Iain Simpson, Willie Scott, Albert Rae and Robert Robertson to take the Bonspiel title.

Photo above L-R: John Veitch (lead), Tom Allan (2nd), Jack Muir (3rd), Jim Waddell (skip) with invited guest Roy Sinclair presenting on behalf of Greenacres.

The Low Road was won by Billy Beattie with Robin Johnstone, John Gillespie and Jim McGregor. Low Road runners-up were John Wilson, Hugh Aitken, Sandie Cronie and Willie Yuille.

Photos and report courtesy of Hugh Stewart.

Lockerbie Wheelchair Curling Club welcomed fellow curlers from Braehead, Kinross, Stirling, South Lanarkshire and Borders for their inaugural 'Pick and Wick' Bonspiel. The brainchild of Marion Murdoch this fun competition was a winner and enjoyed by all. Click on the image above to see a larger photo of the competitors.

With the added twist of two extra stones out front in play before the start of each end, it made for interesting ends, not least the possibility of a nine-ender!

The winners were Jim Sellar, Gill Keith, Keith Thorn and Blair Murray (above). The new salver for this annual competition was presented to the winners by Blair Murray. Runners-up were Ian Donaldson, Arthur Bell, Leslie Barr and Valerie Robertson.

Photos © Jim Thomson. Above L-R: Jim Sellar, Blair Murray, Keith Thorn and Gill Keith.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Division 3 at Dumfries

One had to feel sympathy for the two teams representing Aberdeen Young Curlers at the Division 3 Challenge at Dumfries. In the Challenge, each junior club is represented by two teams. Two points are awarded for a win, and one for a draw.

Aberdeen set the pace all weekend, and were three points ahead of both Forfar and Kinross, going into the last round of games this afternoon. Aberdeen were against Kinross then, needing only one draw from either game for them to be in the top two clubs and assured of promotion to Division 2.

All the results, and the final standings, are here.

That's Maggie Wilson above who skipped Ryan Craik, Claire Dagen and Kirsten Brown.

Maggie was against Hamish Geyer (above) who had Fraser Thomson, Grant Barr and Finlay Campbell (with alternate Kathyn Spain). Kinross won this one.

James Hay (above front) was with Fiona Spain, Alison Wood and Kirsty Paterson against Aberdeen's Graeme Penny, Kenneth Macgregor, Nicol Craik and Rebecca Morrison. Again, the Aberdeen team came second in the game, and hence the club stays in Division 3 next season. So near yet so far!

Here's more of James.

Elsewhere on the Ice Bowl lanes, the two Forfar teams were against Ayr.

Rachel Ireland, skipping the Ayr 2 team, nearly made herself the most popular girl in Aberdeen, as she pulled her team back from 0-4 down against Forfar's Criag Joiner. Had Ayr beaten the Forfar side, then Aberdeen would have been in the top two. But that's not the way it turned out. Craig Joiner, Hailey Duff, Euan MacDiarmid, Craig Paterson (and Ewan Maguire, alternate) finished 6-3 in front.

Ayr's Shaun Rennie also lost out to Forfar's Ben Bremner, with Adam Flint, Craig Cameron and Beth Dandy (with Layla Al-Saffar as alternate).

When the dust had settled, the two Forfar teams had finished on top of Division 3, just one end ahead of Kinross.

Photos © Skip Cottage. Let me know if I have any names wrong.

One Hundred Years Celebrated in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Curling Club has been celebrating its centenary this season with a series of bonspiels, and a special dinner last night was held in the Corn Exchange, with 360 guests in attendance.

Above are the winners of the Centenary Bonspiel. L-R: Colin Mouat, Karina Aitken, Bruce Mouat (skip) and Richard Wood.

My friend Robin Copland is the Edinburgh Curling Club's President this year, and was on hand to welcome guests as they arrived at the Corn Exchange.

Michael Morrison piped in the winners and organising committee.

If you curl at the Murrayfield Rink, you will recognise some of the 'important people' at this table. The predecessor to Murrayfield, at Haymarket, opened its doors on February 3, 1912.

Harry Waugh took us through some of the sport's history. Here he is brandishing a loofie! The opening of the seven-sheet indoor facility at Haymarket provided the chance to curl regularly, without depending on the vagaries of the weather. It was ironic that the opening co-incided with a cold spell. Indeed, a Grand Match had been held the day before the rink opened!

The main speaker was John O'Neill who gave the toast to Edinburgh Curling Club.

It was a grand night, and the opportunity to meet again some old friends. Here are just a few photos to illustrate that.

Ronnie Malcolm, on the left, was the Murrayfield rink's manager for many years, here with Trevor Dodds who, amongst other roles, is vice-president of the Edinburgh Curling Club.

Fred Prain

Andrew and Sheila Hepburn

There were World Champions past and present in attendance. Here's Norman Brown (World Junior Champion and four times European Champion) with his wife Lyn.

Robin Aitken, World Senior Champ.

Barbara Watt is the current Scottish Senior Champion, here with Gordon Addison, who gave the reply to the toast to Edinburgh Curling Club.

Here are those who made last night happen. L-R: Ian Seath, Robin Copland, Anne-Marie Ross, Trevor Dodds and Gordon Addison.

Being a blogger is such a hard job! Here I am with Fran Stretton, Susan Kesley, Jenny Barr and Katie Wood who, amongst their other successes, were the Petrofac Aberdeen City Open winners 2011 (here).

Photos © Skip Cottage

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Alternates for World Championships

David Edwards is to be the alternate for the Tom Brewster team at the World Men's Curling Championship, March 31 - April 8, in Basel, Switzerland. Edwards had the same role for the David Murdoch team at the Le Gruyere European Championships in Moscow in December. Would you have guessed who has been chosen to be the alternate for the Eve Muirhead team at the Ford World Women's Curling Championship in Lethbridge, Alberta, March 17-25?

Kelly Wood, currently resident in Canada, is the choice. Kelly of course most recently played with Eve at the 2010 Olympics in 2010, and later that year won silver at the Worlds and Europeans.

Champions Russia

Andrey Smirnov's Russian team of Marat Romanov, Aleksandr Shevchenko and Svetlana Pakhomova, has won the World Wheelchair Curling Championship, defeating the host nation Korea 9-1 in the final.

China won the bronze medal, winning their game against Slovakia 7-4.

The event website, with reports, presentation photos and action pics from the week, is here.

World Wheelchair Curling Championship 2012 - Final Standings:
1. Russia 9-3 GOLD
2. Korea 8-3 SILVER
3. China 9-3 BRONZE
4. Slovakia 7-5
5. USA 6-4
6. Sweden 3-6*
7. Canada 3-6*
8. Scotland 3-6*
9. Norway 2-7
10. Italy 1-8
* teams are ranked according to their win-loss record against each other.

Norway and Italy are relegated, and will play in the World Wheelchair Curling Qualification event, at the Kisakallio Sports Institute in Lohja, Finland, October 27 - November 3. The top two teams at this event will gain entry to the 2013 World Championship in Sochi, joining the top eight countries in the rankings above.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wheelchair Curling Worlds

The World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Chuncheon City, South Korea, has reached the playoff stages. Unfortunately, Scotland is not involved, having finished in a disappointing eighth place in the rankings, on a record of three wins and six losses.

Korea, Russia, China and Slovakia are the top four. As at writing this post, China has won the Page 3-4 game, and Korea is in the final, having beaten Russia in the Page 1-2. This set up a semifinal game between Russia and China.

All the scores and ranking, daily reports and photo galleries, can be found here.

Canada, in seventh place, and Sweden, in sixth, both had the same win-loss record as Aileen Neilson's Scots. If you have a good broadband connection you can watch video of the Round 4 Sco-Can game here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Henderson Bishop Presentation Photos

Here is the Beryl Niven team from Stranraer with the Henderson Bishop trophy. L-R: Fiona Hardie (2nd), Gail Munro (4th), Beryl Niven (skip), Beth Aitken (lead).

I rather like the story that three years ago Gail and Fiona were in the winning Henderson Bishop team with the youngest player ever to get her name on the trophy. That was Lorna Shaw, see here. I have Beth Aitken's blessing to mention that she had her 74th birthday this week, which must make her one of the oldest, if not the oldest, player to get their name on the trophy! And of course we saw how well Gail did with her young front end last week in Perth. It seems that, young or old, Gail can get the best from her players.

I've thoroughly enjoyed blogging from Inverness. Thanks to all who made me so welcome.

Braehead, the winners of the Cherrystone, with Claire McLaren, Royal Club Ladies' Branch President. L-R: Nanette Davidson, Sheila Black, Liz Paul (skip), Linda Stevenson.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Finals at Inverness

The Henderson Bishop final today was a battle of the 'pink ladies'! That's the Stranraer team above. L-R Gail Munro (fourth), Fiona Hardie (second), Beth Aitken (lead), Beryl Niven (skip).

The other finalists were Lanarkshire 2. L-R Margaret Brown (lead), Alison Fraser (2nd), Marion Craig (3rd), Margaret Richardson (skip).

Gail hit to count four at the fourth and led 6-2. Three consecutive singles from Margaret's team closed the scores, and after eight ends there was only one shot in the game. Gail took a single in the ninth, to go down the last two in front, without the hammer. When Margaret was wide on her tap back to lie two, Gail had a straightforward hit for the game. And she was right on target.

Gail, Beryl, Fiona and Beth (Stranraer) are the Henderson Bishop champions 2012!

The linescores are here.

The low road final for the Cherrystone was between Greenacres (above) and Braehead. L-R: Elaine Semple (skip), Helen Burton, Alison MacLennan, Pat Ross.

Braehead. L-R: Nanette Davidson, Sheila Black, Linda Stevenson, Liz Paul.

Elaine and her team gave their opposition a three shot start and it looked at one point that the Braehead women were going to run away with it, leading 6-3 after six. But a stolen three at the seventh, when Liz rolled out when trying an inwick, saw the scores level. But having staged a comeback, it all fell apart in the eighth. In trouble, Elaine's freeze attempt was not perfect, and Liz nudged it away to count four. There was not enough time to get back a second time, and the Cherrystone was headed for Braehead.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Semifinal Update from Inverness

Lanarkshire 2, skipped by Margaret Richardson (front, above) was against Murrayfield 2's Jennifer Dodds in the semifinal of the Henderson Bishop Competition. Margaret, Marion Craig, Alison Taylor and Margaret Brown were just too strong for their opposition (Jennifer, Alison Dick, Kirsty Galloway and Sue Scotland) this morning, and it was a one-sided game that only lasted eight ends.

All the linescores are here.

Beryl Niven (Stranraer) and Jane McLaren (Lanarkshire 1) went head to head in the other high road semi.

Gail Munro plays last stone for the Stranraer team, with Beryl at third stones, Fiona Hardie, second, and Beth Aitken, lead. Jane had Lucy Head, Alison McRae and Carole Marsh. With a three at the first, Stranraer always had their noses in front in this one, and were two up playing the last end. Gail's hit was on target to run the opposition out of stones. Stranraer will meet Lanarkshire 2 in the final.

In the Low Road, for the Cherrystone, Liz Paul's Braehead team faced Mary Barr's Kinross side. Tied after six, Braehead landed the big one, a five, in the seventh, and the game was theirs. Liz's team was Linda Stevenson, Sheila Black and Nanette Davidson. Mary had Lorna Rennie, Jane Barr and Ena Stevenson. (Stop Press: Ena has a big birthday coming up. Many Happy Returns Ena, tomorrow!)

On the other side of the draw, Elaine Semple's Greenacres team were up against Lisa MacKellaich's local side. In the photo above Abbie Brodie and Lisa watch behind Elaine Semple.
Inverness 1 ran away to a 6-1 lead. Elaine, Helen Burton, Alison MacLennan and Pat Ross came back strongly to be level after six. Lisa's team was Abbie Brodie, Wee Barras and Morven Bridges.

The game was tied in the tenth. Lisa needed an angled raise takeout to force Elaine to play her last, but didn't get the angle. It will be Greenacres v Braehead for the Cherrystone.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Semifinal Draws at Inverness

Traditionally the draws for the semifinals of the Henderson Bishop competition are made at the event dinner. This was duly carried out last night and so this morning the following games will be played:

Henderson Bishop
Murrayfield 2 v Lanarkshire 2
Lanarkshire 1 v Stranraer

Kinross v Braehead
Inverness v Greenacres

Ten end games at this stage in the competition.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday's Report from Inverness

Here is the Northern County Ladies Henderson Bishop organising committee. They have looked after everything, and everyone, brilliantly this week.

Back L-R: Alice Dickie, Roz Urquhart, Rosemary Rankin, Brenda Macintyre, Jennifer Brown, Fiona McLaren. Front: Maureen Fraser, Margaret Pottie, Kate Adamson. (Photo is courtesy of Wee Barras, see below)

In the class 'photos of those not in the team pics' here is Pat Robertson, substitute in the Stirling team.

Janice Rankin is now in the Murrayfield 1 team.

Wee Barras looks to be enjoying herself!

Lucy Head is in the head, with Fiona Telfer and Naomi Whyte behind.

Some friendly games this week!

I've had lots of interest in what the green buckets are for. One suggestion is that they can be used should any competitor feel unwell, especially early in the morning, or if that nasty flu bug starts to go around. I did think that green was not necessarily the best colour if for the latter use!

Here's one use to which the buckets have been put - drawing the raffle!

We have a winner! And I was surprised and delighted to find my ticket had won a prize, courtesy of the Rohan shop in town. (Just off to spend my voucher!)

Last night there was a fashion show, with some of the competitors as the models. No, I wasn't in attendance, but I did have an accomplice, who smuggled out some pix from the evening.

Here are the models. L-R: Claudia Schiffer, Lucy Liu, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen, Pippa Middleton.

Wee Barras (above) was my accomplice, and it's thanks to her for the photos taken with her camera, by other secret operatives!

Alice Dickie

Abbie Brodie. (Note that these are not her gardening clothes.)

Meanwhile, back on the ice ....

Maggie Barry, Scottish Senior Champion with Barbara Watt.

Maggie's a great study for the aspiring photographer!

Lucy Head. Remember when we all loved Lucy? As Lucy Levack, World Junior Silver Medallist, in the Julia Ewart team in 1995, or was it 1996? (I know the answer, do you?)

Joan Maxwell I know well as one of the hosts in the 1980s in the great years of the Highland Junior International, and it was super to meet up with her again. She was encouraging the players and spectators to visit the Ness Soaps stand.

On the stand were these little curling stone soaps! The organisation's website is here. The company provides a work opportunity for local people with learning disabilities.

Well kent organiser of the Highland Junior International, Innes Rankin, gets a colouring lesson this morning!

Isabel Gillespie

Two for the price of one. Alison McRae and Kay Freshwater.

Last but not least, here is soon to be vice-president of the Royal Club, Alan Durno, with Agnes Gordon who, as Agnes Dunbar, was the first person ever to step on to the ice when the Inverness Rink was built. She was the Centre's first skating coach.

All the results and standings are here. The competition gets serious tomorrow with the semifinals and finals.

Photos © Skip Cottage. Thanks to Wee Barras for the secret pix from last night.