Saturday, April 17, 2010

No Scottish teams in Chelyabinsk

None of Scotland's Mixed Doubles, Senior Men's or Senior Women's teams have been able to get to Russia because of the problems caused by the Icelandic volcano. Consequently, they have officially withdrawn from the World Mixed Doubles and World Seniors' Championships. I can only begin to imagine the disappointment and frustration of all involved!

The Championships' play begins tomorrow (Sunday) in the Ural Lightning Ice Palace in Chelyabinsk, despite the disruption. For the World Curling Federation and its member association, the Russian Curling Federation, it is a landmark event as it is the first time that the Russian Federation has hosted a World Curling Championship. It also paves the way for that country organising the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.

The official release from the World Curling Federation, issued earlier today, notes that in the Mixed Doubles, teams from Australia, Austria, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland are onsite and set to compete. Teams from Canada, Finland, Korea, Latvia, Sweden and the USA may yet make it if flights resume. Only Norway and Scotland have officially withdrawn.

For the Senior Championships, women’s teams from Canada, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA have made it to Chelyabinsk.

In the Senior men’s competition, teams from Australia, Canada, England, Hungary, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA are in Chelyabinsk. Estonia, Wales and Scotland have officially withdrawn. Finland is expected in Chelyabinsk by tomorrow evening.

John Brown, of the English senior men's team, reports on the situation in the Scottish Curling Forum here. He's calling it the 'Volcano Championships'!

John says, "In the first of a new set of 'Volcano' emergency rules it was agreed that the England Men's Seniors could begin the competition with three players - the rules say you must start the competition with four. John Sharp of the mixed doubles team is the alternate for the Seniors - originally for emergencies - now he has a few free sessions and he will certainly play the seniors' games against Japan and Australia tomorrow.

Practice went well and the ice is good and keen with a good draw on both hands and in both directions.

Later on we had a spectacular opening ceremony called 'Romancing The Stone' which told the story of the development of curling in song, dance and gymnastics. In a new occurence an athletes' oath (as in the Olympics) was given by double World Mixed Doubles Champion Toni Mueller of Switzerland and an umpires' oath by Keith Reilly, chief umpire for the Seniors.

The first stone was expertly placed in the centre of the circles by the chairman of the organising committee, guided there by some judicious sweeping by the Russian Mixed Doubles team.

One thousand tickets had been sold for the event and the final act was a one end game with expert commentary for the Russian crowd. I was privileged to skip a European team which included Ingrid Meldahl of Sweden (twice WSCC champion) at third, young Sergio Vez Labrador of Spain at second and Renate Nedkoff of Switzerland at lead. Our opposition was skipped by Hugh Millikin of Australia (doing MD and Seniors here), Sharon Vukich of USA, Zhipeng Shang of China and Bridget Becker of New Zealand. The single sheet out of the 14 was floodlit with the rest in darkness and so it was a new experience for me.

Glad to say that our European select outplayed the rest of the World and we scored a two."

Thanks John. Have a good week.

As I write this, the official website, for results and other information, appears to be down.