Monday, November 30, 2009

New WCF online image

The website of the World Curling Federation has had a makeover, see here. 'Much improved' would be my verdict. Curling's top curling organisation should show a good face to the outside world, and the previous effort was in need of an upgrade. Well done to the organisation's new media relations officer, Joanna Kelly, for pushing this through.

I note that the important section containing all the records of World and European competition has been retained. These are certainly the reason I visit the site so frequently.

The site now has a Photo Gallery and a Fanzone. The latter currently has 'WCF wallpapers' for you to download to your PC screen, although why anyone would want to have a photo of an arena with half empty stands, or indeed a curler with her hand on the ice, on their screens beats me. Not really the image of the sport that we should be promoting, in my opinion! But the idea is there. I wonder what is planned for the future of the Fanzone?

In recent news, Regina, Saskatchewan, is to host the 2011 Ford World Men's Championship (see here for the full release). It will be the third time that the World Men’s Curling Championship has been held in Regina. In 1973, Sweden won the Air Canada Silver Broom, and in 1983 it was won by Canada's Ed Werenich. I remember it well. We went 6-3 in the round robin, but still had to play tiebreakers to reach the semis, and sadly lost both. Best memory from all these years ago was the hospitality and friendship of the residents of Creelman, who hosted all the Scots on 'International day'. See nostalgia!

The 2011 world event will be held April 2-10 at the Evraz Place, formerly the Agridome.

Eve in Switzerland

It was a good day for both GB teams yesterday. Not only did Team Murdoch win the Edinburgh International, but Eve Muirhead, Jackie Lockhart, Kelly Wood, Lorna Vevers and Karen Addison won the ZO competition in Wetzikon, see here. Claire Milne's team reached the semifinals of the Curling Champions Tour event too.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Edinburgh International

David Murdoch, Ewan MacDonald, Peter Smith and Euan Byers won the Edinburgh International Championship today, beating Peter Loudon's side at the last stone of the final.

Well done to the Murdoch team! You can find the whole story, and lots of photos, on the event blog here. And all the results, including those from the Seniors competition, are here.

I really enjoyed my involvement with the competition for the past five days. It was the first time that I had set up an 'away blog' for an event, with the encouragement of my friend and former teammate Robin Copland. I think too it's the first time that a Curling Champions Tour event has had its own blog. It was fun. I know that many regular visitors to Skip Cottage Curling jumped across to see what I was up to in Edinburgh. I hope you enjoy(ed) it all. I did!

It's going to happen again soon. The event blog for the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships is already ticking over (go here for a look), and later this week I'll be bringing you lots from Aberdeen, with the help of several blogallies - Tansy Whitebits, Richard Gray, and Coo, to name but three.

Baljaffray winners

Margaret Paul presents the Baljaffray trophy to the winners of the U-17 event at Greenacres. L-R: Bruce Mouat (skip), Derrick Sloan (third), Elspeth Lean (lead) and Lowena Kerr (second).

Mouat's team defeated Duncan Menzies, Stuart Taylor, Robert Fawns and Angus Dowell in the high road final.

Find all the results here.

Thanks to Hugh Stewart for the photo and information.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Baljaffray

I've not been able to be at Greenacres for the U-17 event there this weekend, for the Baljaffray trophy. Hugh Stewart was on hand to take a few photos to give just a flavour of the event. He concentrated on one game, the Thomas Sloan team against Gina Aitken's side. Thomas of course is through here in Edinburgh competing in the Edinburgh International with Glen Muirhead. So his team lined up as Cammy Smith (sub, at lead), Thomas Muirhead (second), Kyle Smith (third) and Scott Fraser (skip). The Aitken Team was Rachael Halliday (lead), Katy Richardson (second), Gina Aitken (third) and Mhairi Baird (skip).
All the scores are here.

Mhairi Baird

Katy Richardson

Gina Aitken

Scott Fraser

All photos by Hugh Stewart

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Out there in the curling world

I am sure that you will agree with me that the Royal Club's communications and web content officer, Kay Adams, is doing a good job. I think that the Royal Club is fortunate too that Kay still throws a mean curling stone at the top level of the game. The photo above is from the Columba Cream Scottish Ladies' Championship at Aberdeen last weekend.

I rely more and more on the Royal Club's website (see here) for keeping me up to date in all that's happening in the game. I like Kay's weekend previews and summaries, and other newsy items like that about the Borders 8 to 80+ project, and the fact that Brazil is going to challenge the USA again for a place in the 2010 World Men's Championship.

Kay skips the Gillian Howard side these days, and she is in the draw for the ZO International Women's Tournament in Wetzikon this weekend, alongside Team GB, Sarah Reid's side and Claire Milne's team.

At this time of the year, there's almost too much happening to keep track of it all. The last leg of the European Junior Curling Tour is in Thun, and the Under-17s are at Greenacres for the Baljaffray.

Team GB's wheelchair curlers are off today to the 5th Annual Cathy Kerr Memorial Bonspiel in Ottawa.

So, where am I? I'll be at the Murrayfield rink in Edinburgh for the next few days. The Edinburgh International Seniors Championship actually begins this morning, and the International Championship on Friday. The event blog is here.

Now, if you like a good barney, the draw for the men's prequalifying competition at the Galleon, December 4-6, has been posted here, and not for the first time, there is controversy about how the premier event in the men's calendar, the Bruadar Scottish Men's Curling Championship, should be organised. Follow the thread on the Scottish Curling Forum here. Certainly this is a peculiar year, dominated of course by the Olympics. But there will be life after Vancouver. I wonder what it will be like!

Pic of Kay © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

GB teams face the media

Eve Muirhead, skip of the GB women's team, crashes to the ice and lies dazed amongst the stones. Is she conscious? Is she breathing? Has the ice been damaged?

What should I do? Yell for help? "Is there a doctor in the house?"

Better take a picture first!

Others had the same idea! No panic. British Curling had a media day yesterday at the Peak in Stirling, to give the press a chance to meet the GB Olympic and Paralympic curling squads.

It was organised by Mike Haggerty (British Curling's media officer) and Katriona Bush (sportscotland's corporate media adviser), and the media interest in the curling squads was bigger than anything I have ever witnessed before.

Above, the men's squad get questioned by journalists from many of the national papers.

I enjoyed, in particular, watching the professional photographers going about their job!

(No, this is not a caption competition. Or maybe it should be!)

It was good to see Pete Smith throwing stones again, if a little tentatively it seemed to me.

The wheelchair curlers went through their paces too.......

....and posed for formal and informal pics. L-R: Tom Killin, Angie Malone, Michael McCreadie, Aileen Neilson and Jim Sellar.

Of course, it was a very serious day! As coaches David Hay and Tom Pendreigh illustrate!

Anyway, here are the men. Back L-R Ewan MacDonald, Euan Byers, Graeme Connal. Front: David Hay, David Murdoch and Peter Smith.

And the women. Back L-R: Jackie Lockhart, Eve Muirhead, Karen Addison. Front: Nancy Murdoch, Lorna Vevers and Kelly Wood.

As I said, it was all very serious! Great fun, really. I thought the players showed remarkable patience and skill in dealing with all the demands made through all the photocalls and interviews. A real credit to the sport.

I gather there are another couple of these sessions prior to the Games, and then the real work begins!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ten days to go

This is the Linx arena in Aberdeen where the A division teams will battle it out at the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships December 5-12. The practice sessions are just ten days away on December 4.

The rink was handed over to the local organising committee this morning, and work is now underway to turn it from a skating rink into a championship curling pad! It really is a great venue.

The flags of the competing nations were beginning to go up as I visited the arena this morning.

This is probably a good point to mention that the competition now has its own blog, see here, or click on the logo below. There are a couple more pics of the venue there. This blog will gear up over the next ten days, and during the event will feature a mix of photos, news and gossip from the Linx and Curl Aberdeen. I'm looking forward to the competition already!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Last post from Aberdeen

Before I head down the road after a most enjoyable couple of days in Aberdeen, I wanted to note that the excitement is building here for the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships which begin at the end of next week. Lots more about this to come shortly! Above is two of the Local Organising Committee, Rhona Thom (in charge of accreditation) and George Esson (the chairman of the committee). They are hoping that you will come and see some of the play, and support some of the best curlers in the world!

It was good to meet up with an old friend, David Kelly. Club curlers took to the ice once the women had vacated it this afternoon.

David is one of the most colourful characters in the game (in more ways than one). Here he is playing with the AWW club, whose regulation uniform is all-black! Needless to say I approve of David's disregard of the dress code!

And, finally, here are just three of my favourite pics from the weekend.

Becca Kesley and Hannah Fleming. The Fleming team didn't have the best of weekends. They've been competing for seven weekends in a row, and just need a wee rest. They were in all the games I saw, and not far away for the win in most. A lovely team, with a big future ahead.

"I'll just hide behind you Becca, because that creepy old man with the camera is pointing it at me again!"

Claire MacDonald and Lauren Gray.

"I meant to do 'scissors' but I was thinking 'paper' and it came out all wrong."

Vicki Adams and Rhiann Macleod

"Let me see, let me see!"

Pics © Skip Cottage

Second Sunday update from Aberdeen

After the first seven rounds of the Columba Cream Scottish Ladies Championship, all the teams have played each other. Three share top position, as shown on the standings above.

The was the big game of Sunday's second session, Muirhead v Munro. It was the second loss of the day for the GB side. Down early, they staged a spirited fight back, but Gail was determined that this would be a game for her team to win. She counted three at the ninth. Two up without coming home, she was perfectly played past a guard to remove the Muirhead stone in the house. All the linescores are here.

Only one thing left to do, and that's to pay tribute to all the third players, who exist to make their skips look good!

Lynn Cameron (Team Claire Milne)

Lyndsay Wilson (Team Gail Munro)

Kay Adams is really skipping the Gillian Howard team, but throws third stones. So here she is doing just that!

And here is Kay calling the shots!

Jckie Lockhart (Team Eve Muirhead)

Claire MacDonald (Team Lauren Gray)

Claire Hamilton (Team Anna Sloan)

Becca Kesley (Team Hannah Fleming)

Kerry Barr (Team Sarah Reid)

Photos © Skip Cottage

First Sunday update from Aberdeen

This was the game to watch this morning, the sixth round of the Columba Cream Scottish Ladies Curling Championship at Curl Aberdeen. Team GB, skipped by Eve Muirhead, matched up against Anna Sloan's side. The two skips were of course teammates in winning the World Junior Championship last season.

The Muirhead side held a perfect record going into this game. Sloan's team had only dropped a point. So what happened. The youngsters were all over their experienced rivals, pulling out a 7-2 lead after five, and holding on cannily over the remaining ends to finish 7-6 in front!

So, after six rounds, Sloan and Muirhead share top place in the standings. All the linescores and standings are here.

Now, time to celebrate all the second players! Here they are.

Vicki Adams (Team Anna Sloan)

Rachael Simms (Team Claire Milne)

Laura Kirkpatrick (Team Sarah Reid)

Kelly Wood (Team Eve Muirhead)

Alison Mather (Team Gail Munro)

Alice Spence (Team Hannah Fleming)

Tasha Aitken (Team Lauren Gray)

Linsey Spence (Team Gillian Howard)

Photos © Skip Cottage