Monday, May 31, 2010

WCF Secretary General

The deadline for applications for the position as the World Curling Federation's Secretary General is today. No doubt those interested in the post will already have lodged their application and CV at the Perth headquarters of the world governing body for the sport of curling.

That's the outgoing SG on the left - Mike Thompson. I feel I've known him for ever! It was in August 1992 that he became the Secretary of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, a job that, at the time, also involved World Curling Federation responsibilities. A couple of years later Mike became solely a WCF man, and his job has grown considerably since then. A permanent staff of ten employees is based out of the WCF Secretariat in Tay Street, Perth.

The WCF is managed by an Executive Board of seven, each from a different country and elected by its forty-six Member Associations.

The Executive Board of the WCF comprises President Kate Caithness (Scotland), Vice-President Patrick Hürlimann (Switzerland), Director of Finance Andy Anderson (USA) and Members at Large Graham Prouse (Canada), Young C Kim (Korea), Leif Öhman (Sweden) and Niels Larsen (Denmark).

The role of the Secretary General can be gleaned from the job description issued recently. (1) To implement the strategic goals and objectives of the Federation. (2) With the President, enable the Executive Board to fulfil its governance function. (3) To give direction and leadership towards the achievement of the Federation’s philosophy, mission strategy, and its annual goals and objectives.

The Major Roles and Responsibilities of the post are:
1. Responsibility for the operation of the Headquarters Office and for the overall administration of the WCF.
2. Board Administration and Support. Supporting operations and administration of the Board by advising and informing Board Members, and interfacing between Board, Staff and Member Associations.
3. Program, Product and Service Delivery. Overseeing design, marketing, promotion, delivery and quality of programs, products and services.
4. Financial, Tax, Risk and Facilities Management. Recommending annual budget for Board approval and prudently managing the Federation’s resources within those budget guidelines according to current laws and regulations.
5. Human Resource Management. Effectively managing the human resources of the Federation according to authorized personnel policies and procedures that fully confirm to current laws and regulations.
6. Public Relations. Ensuring that the Federation and its mission, programs, products and services are consistently presented in a strong, positive image to relevant stakeholders.

Top job indeed. I have always found Mike to be both courteous and helpful in my dealings with the WCF over the years. I understand he will help the new appointee get settled before embarking on his own well deserved retirement.

So, who will take over from Mike? There are lots of rumours of course, but I'll keep these to myself and await an official announcement in the weeks ahead!

Photo of Mike © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

World Juniors add

Now, who do we have here? No, it's not a new mixed team for next season, but what a team it would be! The Perthshire Advertiser photo accompanies the recent confirmation that the Dewar's Centre in Perth is to stage the World Junior Curling Championships 2011, see here.

Bill Duncan, on the left, is Chairman of the Organising Committee. Also in the pic is Kay Adams (the Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Communications and Web Content Officer), Scottish Champion skip Eve Muirhead, and Councillor Callum Gillies (Common Good Fund, Perth).

The dates for the World Junior Championships are March 5-13, 2011. Put these in your diary now.

Perhaps this pic could be a caption competition! How about, "It was 'car park weight' you asked for, wasn't it, Bill?"

or "(a) The sweeping motion is in a side-to-side direction (it need not cover the entire width of the flag)."

or "New regulations allow for sponsors' logos on neckties should these be worn in televised competitions."

Alternatives are available.

The photo is courtesy of the Perthshire Advertiser.

Euro Qualifying: A Correction

In my blog post on Monday (here), I was speculating about the European Qualifying Competition which will decide who will represent Scotland in the European Championships in December. We know that David Murdoch's new team has been invited, because special arrangements have been made to accommodate his playing in the Casino Rama Skins which clashes with one of the weekends of the Scottish Championship Qualifying (see here). Murdoch gets to avoid the Scottish prequalifying because of his invitation to play in the Euro Qualifying.

In Monday's post I said, "Colin Hamilton, the RCCC's Manager of Competitions, has confirmed that invitations have gone out to more than one team, without giving details."

Colin has been in touch to say this is not true. I misinterpreted an earlier email about invitations sent to last season's top three teams, none of which turned out to be able to field a team which would be eligible to take part, according to the regulations in last season's rulebook.

I apologise for my mistake.

The sub-committee of the RCCC Events and Competitions Committee which is charged with sorting out who will play in the Euro Qualifying, and how it will be run, comprises Colin Hamilton, National Coach Derek Brown, Bob Kelly and Brenda Macintyre.

I understand that even though Team Murdoch is the only team so far invited to compete in the Euro Qualifying, there is every intention to hold such an event. Is this important? I believe so. The European Championships are in effect the European zone qualifying for the Worlds, and this is the first of the three years where Olympic points are on offer at the World Championships. It goes almost without saying that we should field our strongest possible teams at the Europeans. It all comes back to the playdown v selection argument, of course. I'm very much in the former camp.

But for now, we will all have to wait to learn just who will compete in the Euro Qualifying, October 29-31, if indeed such an event is to take place.

Anyone else remember when our sport used to be so much simpler?

Olympic champions retire

One of the world's greatest curling teams is no more. Sweden's Olympic Champions Cathrine Lindahl, Anna Le Moine and Eva Lund (L-R above) have announced their retirement, with only their skip, Anette Norberg, indicating she intends to stay involved with the sport in the immediate future.

The announcement is not unexpected but it is always sad to see the end of an era. Two sets of Olympic Gold medals, two World Championships and a drawer full of European medals is quite a record!

The Curling News, as always, has the story here.

My photo of the Swedish women is from the Le Gruyere European Championships in Aberdeen in December last.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Who will represent Scotland at the European Championships?

I note that the Royal Club's rulebook for the new season is already online and available for download as a PDF file from the website here.

There are no changes to the Rules of the Game. Such would require membership approval at the AGM. However there are some significant changes to the Rules and Conditions for Royal Club Competitions. These do not need approval at the AGM.

Changes to the way that the Junior Club Challenge will be run have already been set out, see here.

However, the changes put in place for next season's European Qualifying Competition may perhaps raise some eyebrows. Last season the regulations stated that the top three teams from the previous season’s Scottish Championships be invited to play in these Euro Playoffs. The National Coach, along with an RCCC Committee, could select a fourth team if they felt it would be beneficial to do so. The qualified teams must have at least three members from the previous season’s Scottish Championship team to be eligible to play.

None of the teams which finished in the top three of the Bruadar Scottish fulfill these regulations, although the top women's teams seem to be OK. What might have happened then is that a men's team would simply have been selected to represent Scotland in Champery in December. That would not have gone down well with the country's competitive curlers.

To see how the Events and Competitions Committee has got round this problem, I have extracted the following from the new rulebook.

(a) (i) If a European Playdown is required then the top three teams from the previous season’s Scottish Championships shall be invited to play in the these European Playdowns (if four teams are tied at the top of the round robin stage of the previous season’s Scottish Championships then all four teams shall be invited).
(ii) To be eligible to participate in the European Playdowns a qualified team must have the fourth player and two others players from the previous season’s team which entered the Scottish Championships (excluding any substitute(s) who shall not count towards the eligibility criteria).
(iii) If less than four teams qualify as of right then the National Coach, along with an RCCC Sub Committee for the competition, may select one or more teams to participate in the Play Downs. The number of qualified teams plus selected team will not exceed four.
(iv) Any teams playing in the European Play Downs must also enter the Scottish Championships with the same line-up.
(v) Teams playing in the European Play Downs for the Men will receive a bye to the Scottish Qualifiers.

The main changes are in (iii) which allow now for one or more teams to be selected to play. Colin Hamilton, the RCCC's Manager of Competitions has confirmed that invitations have gone out to more than one team, without giving details. Murdoch's new team is one, to infer from the info in this recent post.

So it is likely there will be a men's Euro Qualifying event. That's scheduled for October 29-31, dates which clash with the first round of the prequalifying competition for the Scottish Championship.

Now, here's a problem. The regulations say that the top eight teams from the previous season’s Scottish Finals shall gain automatic qualification to the Scottish Qualifiers. The qualified teams must have three players from the previous season’s team. If you have a new team then you must enter the prequalifying competition.

However, look at (iv) and (v) above. The teams invited to play in the Euro Playoff, even though they are ineligible to get the bye to the Scottish Qualifiers by right as they are new teams, nevertheless avoid the prequalifiers. Is this right? Fairness to all suggests it is NOT. There should not be one rule for some and a different regulation for others. One would perhaps expect the country's top players to easily cope with the prequalifiers, even in new lineups, but that is an assumption which should be tested on the ice, in my opinion.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gala Awards

Thanks to all who voted for me in the journalist/writer/photographer of the year category of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Scottish Curling Awards 2010. I am thrilled, humbled and very much appreciative of all the support. Thank you.

The list of winners is here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

World Juniors confirmed for Perth

I am thrilled to learn today that it has now been confirmed that the Dewar's Centre in Perth will host the World Junior Curling Championships next season. I reported here in March that the rink was hoping to stage the event. Funding is now in place, and the World Juniors will be really something to look forward to next season. The full press release, with quotes from those involved, can be found on the RCCC website here.

The last time the World Juniors were held in Scotland was in 1995, also at Perth. Tom Brewster's team won gold. Julia Ewart's side finished fourth.

The dates of the World Junior Men's and the World Junior Women's competitions are confirmed as March 5-13, 2011. Scotland's representatives will be decided at Curl-Aberdeen, January 12-16.

My photo of the Dewar's frontage was taken in March.

Juggling the calendar

I made the mistake earlier this month of trying to be organised! I sat down with my diary and the RCCC Competitions Calendar to work out where I might be travelling to next season. No sooner than I had done that, the dates of the Scottish Junior Championships were changed (they are now Jan 12-16). The reason for the change was to avoid a clash with the World University Games.

However, that change had a consequence, and the second leg of the Scottish Men's Championship had to be moved to January 21-23. As many of our top junior teams also play in the Scottish it makes sense not to have the Junior Championship dates clashing with the Scottish Championship.

No problem, you might think. But this weekend of January 22-23 is the Casino Rama Skins event in Ontario. David Murdoch and his team won this last year, see here, and he has been invited again with the team who were the World Champs in 2009. That's them above in action in Rama. There was originally no clash of dates, as January 22-23 had been a free weekend in the schedule. Now it wasn't. That gave the RCCC Events and Competitions Committee a problem. They have solved this by splitting the second leg of the Scottish Qualifiers in two, January 21-23 AND January 28-30. Presumably, if any of the Murdoch team have reached this stage of the Scottish, they will get to play their games on January 28-30.

Colin Hamilton explains, "The Qualifiers weekend two has been split into two weekends because we changed our original dates from the 14 -16 to the 21-23 Jan. David Murdoch had already confirmed to the TSN skins that he was available to play 22-23 Jan, a free weekend. So to be fair on David we have split the weekends."

I don't imagine that this has been much fun for the Royal Club's Events and Competitions Committee which comprises Pat Edington (Convener), Colin Hamilton (Manager of Events and Competitions), Bob Kelly (Board), Anne Malcolm (Board), Jim Jamieson (ASC Representative), Alan Durno (ASC Represetnative), William Arnot (ASC Representative), Anne Donald (ASC Representative), Sadie Anderson (LSC Representative), Leslie Ingram-Brown (Convener Umpires’ Committee), Moray Combe (Player’s Representative (Men) and Brenda Macintyre (Player's Representative (Ladies). Ex-officio are the President, Vice President and CEO. On one hand they would want to be supportive of our country's top players who have been invited to compete in one of Canada's most prestigious competitions. On the other hand they face criticism for apparently demeaning the importance of the Scottish Championship, in favour of allowing a team (which no longer exists as David and Ewan are skipping different teams this coming season) to take part in a televised extravaganza for their own financial benefit.

The problems all stem from trying to juggle the calendar. I've thrown away my first attempt on my own diary for next season with all its scorings out, and will await things to settle! One thing is sure though, it will be a busy time next season. The current version of the competitions calendar is here.

The pic is a Curling News photo by Anil Mungal.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Reform CC

The Reform Curling Club held its AGM and Annual Dinner and Prizegiving at the Greenacres Rink on Friday. It hardly seems like thirty years when a few of us planted the seeds for what has become a great curling club. I am very proud to be a member.

Anyway, the Club voted unanimously to make Malcolm Richardson an Honorary Member of Reform. That's him in the centre of the photo above with (L-R) Michael Burton (the Club's Secretary), Karen Addison (the new Vice President), Stewart Philp (the new President), and Robin Copland (one of the original members who was the speaker at Friday's celebrations).

Reform has an interesting and somewhat unusual format. Entry is essentially on a team basis and the committee is made up of the teams' skips. Thirty five teams will take part next season, in four leagues with promotion and relegation. Membership is open, and the teams are junior right through to masters in age!

And here is the team which finished top of Division 1 in the second half of last season - Jean Lesperance, Margaret Richardson, Karen Addison and Neil Joss (skip).

The club website is here.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

All ahead at Forfar

It was in September 17 last year that it was announced that Mike Ferguson had become the new owner of the Forfar Indoor Sports complex, see here. There's been a number of pointers that the rink is flourishing under a new regime. There's new plant, new competitions and much support for the youngsters in schools, juniors and even the under-twelves (see here).

There are two developments which have prompted this blog post today. The first is that the rink is looking to employ a full-time Curling Officer, in partnership with the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. The advert and details of the post are here.

The second is that the Forfar Open is back! This competition used to attract competitive local teams. There are many now, right across the country, who might appreciate getting the opportunity for good competitive curling early in the season. The event is open to men or women, seniors and juniors. Overseas teams too will be welcome.

The dates are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 7-9, 2010. That's the week following the Glasgow Audi Braehead Open which I mentioned recently. The revamped competition deserves support. Pass the word!

I asked Mike what his first season in charge had been like. He said, "The season past has been one of listening, learning and reviewing operations. It has been a most enjoyable and rewarding venture so far. The support from the curlers and staff has been excellent and apart from an early hiccup with the new plant we haven't had many issues to face. We managed to make a few tweaks here and there which were well received and following a recent mailing for opinions and comments it would appear our efforts have been appreciated."

New developments will see the rink's stones being refurbished at Kays of Scotland in Mauchline over the summer. A new corporate/social lounge is under construction in order that the rink can start offering corporate packages to attract new curlers.

Mike adds, "We are also supporting clubs in their efforts to hold more guest nights. With over fifty young curlers attending the Forfar Young Curlers sessions on Saturday mornings the future looks bright. All in all, it looks very exciting for the new season and with the addition of the new Curling Officer it is time to put Forfar firmly on the curling map."

Monday, May 10, 2010

More looking ahead to next season

The more I learn about team changes, the more intriguing a prospect next season becomes. I mentioned before (here), that David Murdoch had teamed up with Warwick Smith. I had the front end wrong though. Glen Muirhead, whose own junior team defeated Murdoch in the Bruadar Scottish Curling Championship semifinal, will play second for David next season, with Ross Hepburn at lead.

Tom Brewster, above, will skip Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow. Tom confirms that he wants to play more next season. He now has an enthusiastic young team in front of him.

The word is that Hammy McMillan will play with David Smith, with Ross Paterson and Sandy Gilmour retained as the front end. As a good friend commented, "That'll be fun!" Indeed it will. Can't wait.

It is good to hear too that Jackie Lockhart, below, plans to be back on the ice next season, the injury that saw her so cruelly sidelined for the Columba Cream final game now behind her. She has teamed up with Karen Addison who missed out on the Olympics when she was deselected in January. Three time world junior champion Sarah Macintyre is also included in the team I believe, with the well known Anne Other.

Junior Champion Lauren Gray has joined forces with Jennifer Dodds who she beat in the final last season. Tasha Aitken and Caitlin Barr are the front end.

Junior Men's Champion Ally Fraser will have Thomas Sloan, Blair Fraser and Kerr Drummond for the new season.

Applications for performance pathway support via the Scottish Elite, National Academy and Regional Academy are now being solicited. See today's post on the Royal Club website here. Closing date is May 31.

The photo of Tom is from the Edinburgh International last season, and that of Jackie is from the Euro Championships in Aberdeen's Linx Arena in December. Both © Skip Cottage.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Kinross Curling Trust Raffle

This chest contained all the tickets for Kinross Curling Trust's Grand Raffle. The draw took place today at the Windelstrae Hotel. I was there of course - I really need a new car and I wanted to be on hand when my ticket was pulled out.

Scottish Champion skip Eve Muirhead was asked to make the draw. Here she is with Bob Tait, the Trust's Chairman, and the winning ticket.


Sadly not. The lucky winner was Gordon Walker of Glenfarg. Christine Dawson and Alison Young won the 'minor' prizes (two nights dinner bed and breakfast sponsored by the Gleneagles Hotel, and six bottles of ten year old Ardbeg single malt whisky, sponsored by Glenmorangie). The bigger winner of course was the Trust's fundraising efforts, as more than £10,000 has been added to the pot. You can read about other fundraising efforts here.

Here's Bob and Eve again, with other trust members in the sunshine with the star, a little black Fiat Panda Active ECO 1.1 L, thanks to Arnold Clark and Fiat Perth. Happy motoring Gordon!

So good to see the fundraising continuing, although the National Curling Academy project remains on hold meantime, see here.

In the sunshine today it was easy to be optimistic that one day there will be a six sheeter on this site, with the RCCC offices and a world class curling history museum. Well, let's hope so.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, May 06, 2010

New Dates for Glasgow Audi Braehead Open

The Braehead Curlers website is in the process of having a makeover, but the big news from the rink is that the Glasgow Audi Braehead Open has shifted dates to a weekend right at the beginning of the season.

Writing on behalf of Braehead Curling and Braehead Curling Development Group, Gary Macfarlane has sent out an open invitation for teams to compete in the event, October 1-3. The competition, in its sixth year, offers teams at least three games if not four or more. First games are not until 6pm on the Friday.

The competition is open to all teams, with prize money of £2000, and prizes are available for a range of participants, including under 25s, best overseas, seniors, ladies, Braehead members, as well as the main prize of £650 for the Glasgow Audi Braehead Open Champions. Entry fee is £120 per team.

Information regarding accommodation and travel will be on the Braehead Curlers website at in the next few days. You can also email Gary (randomffd /at/ for information and specific questions.

Entries are on a first come first served basis and the organisers are hoping for as many as thirty-two teams.

For men's and women's teams with intentions of competing in the Scottish Championships, this event offers early season competition, particularly with the demise of the RCCC Mini Tour.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Eeva is new WCF development officer

I see that the World Curling Federation has appointed Eeva Röthlisberger (above) as its new curling development officer, to be based in Europe. She will take up her appointment on May 17.

I've met Eeva a number of times. An impressive lady, much respected as an umpire. When the job with curling's world governing body was advertised the roles and responsibilities were many and varied, and I was interested in how many would apply. I understand that there were many applications, and I conclude that the very best has got the job. The roles and responsibilities that the WCF set out for the job included:

> Administering the Development Assistance Programme
> Co-ordinating all aspects of WCF Camps and Courses
> Arranging special clinics and courses
> Supplying course and camp information and updates to websites
> Continuing the development of wheelchair curling
> Instructing basic courses (ie - Umpire, Discover Curling, Level I Instructor)
> Visiting the Member Associations and providing programmes to help plan their development
> Making regular reports to the WCF Executive Board giving an overview of development in each Member Association
> Planning and administering the special IOC development funding
> Creating and update WCF technical manuals
> Maintaining a register of qualified course instructors
> Attending WCF Executive Board meetings
> Evolving a 'Business of Curling' module and becoming a facilitator

One can see the experience that Eeva brings to the post from the WCF press release which says, "With a background in marketing and sales, Eeva Röthlisberger, who has joint Swiss and Finnish citizenship, has been involved with the sport of curling for almost twenty years. Her experience has included umpiring, timing supervision and team management at over thirty international curling events, including the recent Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and the World Men’s Championship in Cortina, Italy, where she was Chief Umpire.

Since 2005, Eeva Röthlisberger has also had a part-time involvement with the Swiss Swimming Federation where she was responsible for organizing training camps, courses and events for synchronized swimming. In her new role, Eeva will be responsible for administering the World Curling Federation’s Development Assistance Programme, as well as coordinating the WCF’s curling camps and training courses and continuing the development of wheelchair curling.

Announcing the appointment, WCF President Kate Caithness said, 'We are delighted to welcome Eeva on board. She comes with a wealth of experience and has shown great deal of commitment over the years to working with the sport of curling. The new Curling Development Officer position has been created at a key time for the development of our sport, never before has there been such widespread interest in curling. Eeva’s energy and ideas will be central to this new job.'

Speaking about the position, Eeva said, 'I look forward to this new challenge and believe my professional background, my experience in curling as well as my openness to learn new things will help me to do a good job. There is a lot of work ahead but it’s a great opportunity to help develop curling around the world.'"

Best wishes and good luck to you, Eeva.

The top photo of Eeva was taken at the European Championships in Aberdeen in December. The photo above is from the European Mixed at Kitzbuehel in 2008 (here with Spain's third player Martina Zurlohe). © Skip Cottage