Friday, July 30, 2010


I have to admit that until this morning I had never heard of LMFAO, an electro-hop group from Los Angeles, California that consists of DJ/rappers Redfoo (Stefan Gordy) and Sky Blu (Skyler Gordy). But my education continues. Their music video for a song called 'Yes' features (if this is the word) the sport of curling!

Be warned, this is not for you if you are easily offended. No doubt it would be flagged on iTunes as EXPLICIT! But click on the image above, or click here, to watch and listen.

Not in the same class as Hammerfall's Hearts on Fire, which featured Anette Norberg and team! But everyone's music tastes are different.

Still, there is a pointer in the LMFAO video towards colourful curling uniforms, perhaps even rivalling those of Loudmouth Golf! Yes!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm working on it!

It's my plan to make some changes to the look of Skip Cottage Curling over this coming weekend, so if you are someone who is likely to visit then, and you find the site has disappeared from public view, don't be concerned. If all goes well, normal service will be resumed on Monday at the latest.

If things go wrong, I'll have updates on my other blog:! Take a note.

More importantly, come Monday, I would be pleased to have your feedback on the new look, particularly if it appears odd on your browser and on your computer. My hope is that it will be more legible on alternate platforms such as the iPad and smart phones.

The content will expand somewhat too, but more on that in August.

Thanks to all blogallies who have supported my efforts this past year.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

So begins 1984, George Orwell's disturbing novel of the future - the future that still stretched out in front of me when I began my curling career in the early 1960s! And when the book was required reading at school. Of course, 1984 came and went, with no resemblance to the book, although Big Brother lives on, if only for a little longer.

It was an interesting time on the curling ice in the mid-80s. The Scottish Men's Championship was sponsored by Langs Supreme Scotch whisky, and the final matched Colin Hamilton's team of Jim Sanderson, Mike Dick and Stewart Cobb, against Mike Hay, David Hay, David Smith and Russell Keiller, in the old Perth rink.

The record shows that it was the Mike Hay team that came through and went on to represent Scotland at the Air Canada Silver Broom World Curling Championship in Duluth, Minnesota. All but David Hay were still juniors that year.

The game was televised and broadcast by Scottish Television. Here is most of end 7 from the final - an end which was of major significance in the game. This ten-minute clip has been processed from a VHS tape from my own recording at the time. Watch, listen and enjoy. Try not to laugh!

The video is not embedded, so click the image or click here to go to YouTube to watch it.

What has happened since to those who were playing then? Mike Hay went on to become national coach. Russell Keiller was coach to Rhona Martin's side when they won Olympic Gold. David Hay was Team Murdoch's coach for the last Olympic cycle, and David Smith is a well respected Eurosport commentator as well as being the current Scottish Champion! Colin Hamilton has been the Royal Club's Manager of Competitions for a number of years now.

And if you are wondering what I was blethering about at the start of this post, you can read 1984 online here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Braehead Open Mixed Doubles

I've always been a big fan of mixed doubles curling, and I find it surprising that this discipline of the big game is not more popular than it is. It really is great fun to play, and to watch. So I was pleased to hear the news that the Braehead rink is organising the BRAEHEAD OPEN MIXED DOUBLES for November 16-17, with an entry fee of £80 and prize fund of £750.

The organisers are looking for twenty-four teams from all over Scotland (and beyond)! Each team will play a minimum of five games over the Tuesday and Wednesday evenings between 6pm and 11pm. There is a top prize of £500 for the winning team, with additional prizes for 2nd, 3rd and 4th places, best Braehead team, and best under 25. David Horne and Gary Macfarlane are your contacts at Braehead. (Contact details here)

The competition should be good practice for those teams which intend to compete in the Scottish Mixed Doubles at Murrayfield, December 10-12. RCCC Competitions Manager Colin Hamilton tells me that seventeen teams have entered for the national event this season, that's three more than took part last time. Indeed, the draw is up on the RCCC website here. The winners of the Scottish MDs will have the opportunity to represent Scotland at the World Championship in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, April 16-23, volcanic ash permitting of course.

The official demonstration video about mixed doubles curling is online here.

The photo above is of Graham Shedden and Claire Sloan at the Scottish MDs at Murrayfield last season © Skip Cottage.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Scottish Championship Qualifying

The draw for the prequalifying competition for next season's Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship went up on the Royal Caledonian Curling Club's website yesterday, see here. Twenty-one teams are looking for the available fifteen places in the next stage of the competition, where they will join five teams which get byes through the prequalifiers. The prequalifying competition will be played as three groups of seven in two locations over two weekends, the Lanarkshire Ice Rink, October 30-31, and Lockerbie, November 20-21.

So which five teams go straight through to the main qualifying event, this to be held over three weekends at the Dewar's Centre in Perth, December 17-19, January 21-23 and January 28-30? (Why three weekends, see here). They are skipped by David Murdoch, Hammy McMillan, Ewan MacDonald, Neil Joss and Fraser Hare.

The RCCC Rulebook for 2010-11 says in reference to the Scottish Men's Championship, "(ii) The top eight teams from the previous season’s Scottish Finals, shall gain automatic qualification to these Qualifying Playdowns. The qualified teams must have three players from the previous season’s Scottish Finals named team, excluding any substitute(s) who shall not count."

Neither David Murdoch's declared team for next season (Warwick Smith, Glen Muirhead and Ross Hepburn) and Ewan MacDonald's new side (Peter Loudon, Graeme Connal and Euan Byers), meet these criteria, but get to avoid playing in the prequalifying competition because both have been invited to compete in the European Qualifying Competition which clashes with the first of the prequalifying weekends.

Is this fair and right? That's for you to decide. As I've said before, it doesn't sit comfortably in my book, smacking as it does of 'one rule for some, a different rule for others'.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Euro playoffs

The competition to find Scotland's teams for the European Championships will be at the Dewar's Rinks in Perth, October 29-31. The draw for that event is now online here.

Three teams will compete in both women's and men's competitions. In the former, Sarah Reid's team get the first round bye, while Eve Muirhead takes on Gail Munro at 3pm on Friday, October 29. The format is a double round robin, with the last regulation game scheduled for the Sunday morning. If tiebreakers are necessary, these will be played on Sunday afternoon and evening.

In the men's competition, former teammates David Murdoch and Ewan MacDonald clash in the opening game on the Friday at 3pm, with Hammy McMillan having the first round bye. The men's sessions are at the same time as the women throughout the weekend.

The winning teams will represent Scotland at the 2010 European Championships, in Champery, Switzerland. This competition begins on Saturday December 4, and finishes up Saturday December 11. The event website is here. I note that the weekly passes for the A Division arena are already on sale.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pebble the Sea

A fair number of odd ideas come across my desk, both in and out of season. I just wonder how many curlers worldwide might fancy the opportunity to be the first to throw some stones on the high seas.

If you like the idea, then go here to sign up for a seven day Carribean cruise, March 19-26, 2011, on the Oasis of the Seas, leaving from Port Lauderdale, with short curling on a 60 foot rink the highlight!

Curling has indeed been played in some strange places, and this is amongst the wackiest. However, knowing curlers, I suspect that on-the-ice fun will be the least of it, if the cruise does indeed go ahead.

The organisers need 375 people to commit with their deposit of $400 by August 5.

Scottish expat to play for New Zealand

I was tickled to read the news this morning that a friend and well kent former Greenacres curler Kenny Thomson, now living in Auckland, has been selected as one of the five man squad to represent New Zealand at the Pacific Curling Championships in South Korea in November.

The NZ selections for the 2010-11 season were confirmed at a special meeting of the NZ Curling Association's Executive on July 16, see here. The other members of the national men's team are Sean Becker, Warren Kearney, Kris Miller and Warren Dobson.

Kenny is certainly one of the sport's 'characters'! More importantly he is a member of my own club, Reform CC, and I'm sure all the members will be cheering the news today.

The pic of Kenny, wearing his Reform CC fleece, was taken on a Reform Touring Club expedition to Prague a couple of years back. © Skip Cottage.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Skins Final

Right, let's pick up the Stirling Summer Skins in the semifinals today. Anders Kraupp (above) came close but his Swedish side went down to Logan Gray.

Blair Fraser's five man team of Andrew Craigie, Lindsay Gray, Simon Gibb and Michael Goodfellow were pipped in the semi against Rasmus Stjerne.

This from the semifinal, to show that one pair of Loudmouth pants failed to make it to the deciding game, despite Andrew Craigie sporting them proudly!

So here are the finalists. Back L-R: Matt Ng, Trysta Vandale, Katja Kiiskinnen, Logan Gray. Front: Colin Dick, Billy Morton, Jay McWilliam, Rasmus Stjerne.

It was tense stuff. Mind you, the competitors all looked as if they had not slept for 48 hours...

.... which was probably pretty much the truth! It is a fun event.

Still, the finalists all showed good form.

Katwoman concentration!

Jay was much more himself today than he had been on Friday, see here.

Hard Canadian sweeping from Matt and Trysta.

Billy Morton and Colin Dick.

The final was an excellent game. It all came down to the last stone, the game hinging on who would win the final skin!

Click the screen to watch what happened. Or go here to watch in a larger size.

Having just been beaten, Logan donned his hat as the tournament organiser to present the cheque to the winning team, Rasmus, Colin, Jay and Billy.

And if you feel like taking part at home, this is this month's caption competition!

Pics © Skip Cottage

Saturday, July 17, 2010

More Skins

Here's a different take on the Stirling Summer Skins curling yesterday. Please excuse my amateur efforts on the videocam as I attempt to learn another skill for my blogs.

Thanks to all the competitors at the Peak, and especially to the irrepressible Graham Shedden for inadvertently providing the hook on which to hang yesterday's clips!

The short YouTube video is not embedded so you should click on the link above, or on the image, to watch. Hope you like The Killers!

© Skip Cottage

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer at the Peak

It's the second year of the Stirling Summer Skins at The Peak, and this time around it's bigger and better than last summer.

Did I say summer? There was even the odd competitor in shorts today. (Anyone recognise these pins?)

Colourful curling indeed. That's organiser Logan Gray behind, with Katja Kiiskinen (aka Katwoman), against the young Braehead side.

Norwegian blondes Anneline Skarsmoen and Kjersti Husby.

Curling for everyone.

Even in camouflage. Bet you don't recognise the well-kent young curler on the left!

Yes, Loudmouth Golf has a lot to answer for. They get my vote every time though. More, more....

... and there was. This is Rachael Simms.

Definitely my favourite! David Soutar.

Trysta Vandale from Canada. The flower in the hair and the sunglasses, all part of the team uniform! Wonderful.

I think it's the socks that just completes this outfit so nicely!

In my time it used to be oranges at the break. Here Mel Porter dispenses an interesting pick-me-up of jelly babies soaked in vodka!

Matt Ng is a twice World Junior Champion from Canada, on his way home from working at the WCF Junior Camp in Fussen.

Marie O'Kane's Irish side had not played skins curling before, but took Scott Macleod's team to an extra stone decider in their first game.

Here come the girls. Or not, if you look closely. The 'Ladyboys of Stirling' just played the part oh so well!

This young Stranraer curler wins the 'Best Dressed' prize of the day. Well done, Jay!

By contrast,'s Gerry Guerts was more seriously attired. Enjoy your stay in Scotland, Gerry.

Rosemary Lenton

Alan 'I'll give it five' Hannah

A big 'well done' to tournament organiser Logan Gray, here having a wee moment of prayer during his first game! (Other captions welcomed)

Play continues at The Peak all day tomorrow (Saturday), with the deciding games on Sunday.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stirling Summer Skins

Thirty teams are signed up for the Stirling Summer Skins at The Peak tomorrow. The format is three leagues, played with the Schenkel system. I like the team names which indicate that this will really be a FUN weekend! The draw and game times will be:

Section A, playing tomorrow (July 16) at 9.30am, 3.30pm, and on July 17 at 11.30am and 5.30pm:

1. Ecoliving (Taylor)
2. Drunken Rock Throwers (Stjerne)
3. TM 2 (Thorne)
4. Team Woods (Woods)
5. Sweden XXVII (Kraupp)
6. Team Penny (Penny)
7. Wreckless Skin Divers (Shedden)
8. Gremlins (Porter)
9. Designated Drinkers (Pendreigh)
10.Team Balfour (Balfour)

Section B, playing tomorrow at 11.15am and 5.15pm, and Saturday at 8am and 2pm:

1. Perth Rock Throwers (McMichael)
2. Sweeckerbie (Lindstrom)
3. Shaving Ryan’s Privates (Meikle)
4. Team Russell (Russell)
5. GI Joes and Army Hos (Wood)
6. Team LG 2 (Gray)
7. TM 3 (Yeti)
8. No Fancy (Skarsmoen)
9. Fuessen Fanatics (LG)
10. Telf’s Tigers (Telfer)

Section C, playing tomorrow at 1pm and 7pm, and Saturday at 9.45am and 3.45pm:

1. Allsorts (Guthrie)
2. Four Skins (Joss)
3. Stoooooobes (Stobo)
4. TM (MacLennan)
5. Musketeers (Addison)
6. One Foot In The Head (Sutherland)
7. Flight Of The Commodores (Rudstrom)
8. Split Ends (Reid)
9. Touch of Blarney (Tierney)
10. Team Ecuador (Macleod)

The quarterfinals will be on Sunday at 9am, semifinals at 11.30am, with the final set for 2pm.

The cartoon above is by Saskatchewan artist Alden Seib, from a photo card gifted to me some years ago. Click on the image to see a larger size.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Development news

It's all happening in the world of Area Curling Development Officers during these summer months! For the first time, Forfar Indoor Sports will have its own ACDO when Jill Macdonald (above) takes up her post, see here. And a replacement has been found for Jim Buchanan who has retired at the Borders Rink in Kelso. Liz Cullen will be in post for the start of the new season.

Morven Marwick takes up her position as the Inverness and Highland Curling Development Officer next week.

Applications for the vacant post at Kinross have just closed, and interviews will be later this month.

The Royal Club's Development Manager Judith McFarlane heads up the team which also includes:
Claire Milne (Perth and Dundee)
Graham Sloan (Dumfries)
Marion Murdoch (Lockerbie)
David Horne (Braehead)
Jim Morrison (Lanarkshire)
Logan Gray (Stirling)
Stewart Sutherland (Waterfront)
Laura Morris (Curl Aberdeen)
Gordon McIntyre (Greenacres)

Some of these posts are full-time, some part-time, and how they are funded varies from rink to rink. Contact details for all the Development Officers can be found here.

Jill's photo is by Richard Gray from the Glynhill Ladies International at Braehead.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

New women's events added to calendar

Two new events have been added to the women's curling calendar, making up for the demise of the Mini Tour. The dates are Forfar, October 15-17, and Aberdeen, November 19-21.

The initiative has come from Judith McFarlane, the Royal Club's Development Manager, who recognised the need for women's teams to have competitions to play in prior to the Scottish Championship. It's all very well for those teams in the Elite Squad who get the opportunity to compete in the likes of the Curling Champions Tour. But what is there for the others? The answer is 'very little', particularly as there will be no Scottish prequalifying competition this season. So the initiative is a good one. More details are on the Royal Club website (here), where it says that 'Entries are being encouraged from juniors, women’s and senior women’s teams'. The Elite Squad teams are not encouraged to enter!

Judith explains that she and Kay Adams have contacted teams from the last several years of Scottish women's and seniors' competitions to find out if there was demand for two more events. She says, "We've been delighted to have responses directly from thirteen teams; eleven Scottish, one English and one Welsh with interest in competing in one or both weekends."

Perhaps disappointingly, no foreign interest has been shown so far. An invitation has been on the ECF website (here) for a while. It's not too late for countries with women's teams, preparing perhaps to play in the B Divisions of the European Championship, to enter for one or other weekend.

Entries should be sent directly to the RCCC, where Colin Hamilton is in charge of organising the ice and the draw.

Good to see the Forfar rink making further efforts to be on the competitive map next season. The rink has resurrected the 'Forfar Open', see here. New owner Mike Ferguson is in his second season, and is pleased that his venue is to host the first event of the women's tour. He says, "Everyone at Forfar Indoor Sports is delighted to be granted the opportunity to hold the Scottish Women's Tour and we are looking forward to welcoming the competitors to the rink. Work has already started on several alterations which will enhance the overall curling experience at Forfar. This is another small step on the way to making Forfar a recognised, well supported curling venue for local, national and international competitions."

Curl Aberdeen is well recognised as a top competitive venue, and Tom Brewster and his staff will cope with the second of the weekends in their stride.

Judith says, "We'd like to make it a really sociable event. We're confident of getting at least ten teams for each weekend and creating a platform to grow from in future years."

The photo of Judith McFarlane is from the Glynhill Ladies International earlier this year and is © Skip Cottage.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

New Zealand's Grand Match

The Idaburn Dam in the South Island of New Zealand has 12cm of ice, and the call has gone out to hold that country's national outdoor bonspiel, which has been held three times in the past fourteen years, see here.

"It's a beautiful bit of ice," said curling association ice master Stewart McKnight, of Ranfurly, according to this report.

The event is being held over two days, today (Wednesday July 7) and tomorrow. More than sixty teams are taking part.

There are further news reports and videos here and here.

And there's video of previous New Zealand bonspiels here.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Colin Grahamslaw to be new WCF Secretary General

Colin Grahamslaw, Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, is to leave on August 13 to take up the post of Secretary General of the World Curling Federation. Colin will replace Mike Thomson at the WCF who is retiring later this year.

The full press release from the RCCC is here.

The WCF release is here.

Best wishes to Colin in his new post. The possible move, after more than five years at Cairnie House, had been widely rumoured. Certainly, Grahamslaw's talents will be put to good use with the world body. But there will be consequences for the Royal Club. And perhaps opportunities too. The search for a new CEO has already begun.

Interesting, and uncertain times ahead in the next few months for the RCCC, I suspect.

The candid pic of Colin is of him watching the action at the Euro Championships in 2007 © Skip Cottage.

Ex WCF President dies

Former World Curling Federation President Günther Hummelt has died. He was 78. Hummelt was President of the WCF from 1990 to 2000. After his retirement he continued as President of the Austrian Curling Association, and represented that association at all WCF meetings, most recently at Cortina earlier this year.

Hummelt led the WCF committee which lobbied to achieve Olympic medal status for curling. He was made the Federation's first Honorary President, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to world curling.

A fuller obit is on the WCF website.

Gunther's photo is from the Austrian Curling Association website, here.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

World Junior Championships: a look forward and back

The committee for the 2011 World Junior Curling Championships, to be held at the Dewar's Centre, Perth, is already hard at work. The event will be held from Saturday March 5 to Sunday March 13, 2011.

I am looking forward already to the championships. Eight months will no doubt pass very quickly! Indeed, life goes past very quickly. It hardly seems like yesterday when I was watching the 1976 Uniroyal World Junior Curling Championship, held in Aviemore in February of that year. This was the second 'official' world junior event. The first had been at East York, Ontario, the previous year. Just for the boys then. The first world junior event for the girls did not take place until 1988.

The records for the Aviemore championship event can be found within the World Curling Federation website here.

From the WCF records, here are the names of those who took part:
Canada: Paul Gowsell (skip), Neil Houston, Glen Jackson and Kelly Stearne.
Denmark: Tommy Stjerne (skip), Oluf Olsen, Peter Andersen and Steen Hansen.
France: Claude Feige (skip), Jean-Louis Sibuet, Christian Marin-Pache and Marc Sibuet.
Germany: Hans Dieter Kiesel (skip), Rainer Schöpp, Wolfgang Artinger and Norbert Petrasch.
Italy: Massimo Alvera (skip), Franco Sovilla, Fabio Bovolenta and Marco Lorenzi.
Norway: Sjur Loen (skip), Morten Søgaard, Hans Bekkelund and Roar Rise.
Scotland: Bob Kelly (skip), Ken Horton, Willie Jamieson and Keith Douglas.
Sweden: Jan Ullsten (skip), Mats Nyberg, Anders Grahn and Bo Söderström.
Switzerland: Jean-Claude Stettler (skip), Marcel Ruefli, Hans Peter Ringli and Christoph Stiep.
USA: Donald Barcome Jr (skip, Dale Mueller, Gary Mueller and Earl Barcome.

One challenge for any of us interested in the history of curling is to preserve images of the sport. I have already posted, on the Curling History Blog here, some photos from 1976. What about video? In the digital age this has become easier to produce, and share online. But back in 1976 the visual record of the world event was in the form of a 16mm reel to reel promotional film brought out by the sponsor, Uniroyal.

Two years ago Bob Kelly (the skip of the Scottish team in 1976, and now a director on the board of the Royal Club) lent me a VHS tape, converted from the film. I was able to further convert the tape to DVD. Last week I finally learned enough to be able to rip the contents of the DVD into a form that could be imported into iMovie. That allowed me to edit the footage a little on my computer, really just cutting out the traditional distillery trip and tourism distractions from the actual curling. I've today uploaded the results, in three parts, to YouTube, and you can view these by following the links.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

The clips are unlisted and can only be accessed from the links, and shouldn't appear on a YouTube or external search. Or you can watch the clips embedded below. Each runs for 8-10 minutes.

The quality is not great, given the history! But I must admit that I find footage like this compulsive viewing. Memories of the Aviemore ice rink, long gone now. I particularly like watching some of the young European teams using the corn broom. Then of course there are the Canadians. Paul Gowsell is a legend in the sport! The commentary is by Bob Picken, a friend who is another curling legend in my eyes.

What stopped me in my tracks though, was to see the shots of the fans in the stands. Many are no longer with us - Philip Moore was a Glasgow young curler, sadly killed in a car accident. There he is, on screen. And there are others too. This is a tribute to them.

But some audience shots made me smile! There's even one of me. When I had hair!

Part 1 is the round robin:

Part 2 is the semifinals:

Part 3 is the final and the presentations: