Wednesday, November 30, 2011

European Championships in Moscow

Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton, with Kay Adams as alternate and Gordon Muirhead as their coach, have their first game in this year's Le Gruyere European Championships against Norway, skipped by Linn Githmark. The Scots will take to the ice on Saturday, 12.30 local time. They have two games on the first day, facing Denmark in the evening.

David Murdoch, Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson and Richard Woods, with David Edwards as their fifth player and David Ramsay their coach, open against Joel Retornaz's Italians who had a good run at the Edinburgh International last weekend. Italy gained promotion to the A Division at Champery last year.

The draws can be downloaded from this page, alongside the details of all the competing teams.

The Scots flew out from Edinburgh this morning. I hope their journey will be much less eventful than last year when our representative teams faced considerable delays and frustrations caused by the bad weather on their way to Switzerland.

The World Curling Federation website has a full preview of the ECC 2011 here. Eight teams from the Women’s A Group will qualify for the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship 2012 in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, March 17-25, 2012. Teams already qualified for this event are Canada (as host), USA, China and Korea. Seven teams from the Men’s A Group at the ECC 2011 will qualify for the World Men’s Curling Championship 2012 in Basel, Switzerland, March 31 - April 8 2012. Teams already qualified for this event are Switzerland (as host), Canada, China and New Zealand. The Bemidji Curling Club will host a challenge between the United States and Brazil, January 27-29, for the final North American berth. This will be a best-of-five competition spread over the three days.

The draws and the competing teams in the B Divisions are available for download from this page. Such is the size of the Megasport Arena that all the B games will be held in that venue too.

The competition website, which will have a link to results, is here. And the TV and webcast schedule is here.

Top: The photo of the Megasport Arena in Moscow is from the WCF website here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Glynhill Draw Online

The draw has been made for the Glynhill Ladies International at Braehead, January 20-22, 2012. Find it here. Twenty four teams are in the mix, playing in four sections, in this Curling Champions Tour event.

Team photos are on the website too, here. Eighteen foreign teams will be taking part, alongside six home teams.

And if you are looking for the Bond Girls from the USA, whose participation I trailed recently (here), you will be following Team Messier. I hope Marissa and her team are morning people as they are on the first draw at 08.00 on the Friday against Linda Klimova's Czech side.

Anna Hasselborg's Swedish team begins the defence of the trophy they won last year on Friday January 20 at 10.15, against Olga Ziablikova's Russians.

I asked if anyone knew which James Bond film featured curling. Graeme (aka Blogally No 1) wins the 'mindless trivia' prize for his response, "Had to be 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' - can't remember if Diana Rigg was one of the curlers or not. Film was set in Murren, Switzerland, and was the only Bond film that George Lazenby was in. He left because he didn't want to get typecast - his career went from strength to strength after that! The curling actually took place on Piz Gloria at the top of the mountain (the Schilthorn). The theme tune 'We have all the time in the world' was the last thing Louis Armstrong recorded before he died. The film partially funded the completion of the building of the restaurant in return for the filming rights and the restaurant retained the name of Piz Gloria. It does not, however, contain a curling rink now."

I believe that what is now the viewing area outside the restaurant is where the curling was staged.

Just enough room for a single sheeter, I would think!

Photo by jamesp from this website.

Are YOU a rule breaker?

If you read the most recent issue of YOUR Curler, the Royal Club's e-magazine which goes out to members, you may have noticed a little feature on RULE BREAKING which addressed which rules are most often ignored or forgotten. You probably read the 'top ten' (above) and may have decided that you were 'guilty' of some of them! Or perhaps not.

At the Umpires’ Annual Refresher Day, the umpires present, representing more than half of all the umpires in Scotland, put together these top ten most broken rules. I found this piece very interesting as so often I see the rules being broken through the lens when I'm out and about with my camera. It's not the juniors who are the biggest offenders. In fact, they generally know exactly what they should be doing. Often it's the 'more mature' curlers who ignore the rules:

1. Only the skip and vice-skip should be behind the head when the opposition are playing.
2. Players, other than skip/vice-skip, should remain between the hog lines (or courtesy lines) when the opposition is playing especially at the delivery end.
3. Players, other than person in charge of house for each team, should not stand in the house whilst the score is being decided or measure being done. Players should stand behind back line or at hog line.
4. Damage to ice: keep hands or knees off the ice.
5. Sweeping motion must be across the running path of the stone: in other words no 'snowploughing'.
6. Sweeping behind the tee line: only skip or vice skip of nonplaying team may sweep when
opposition are playing.
7. Time wasting /ready to play.
8. Measuring: don’t use a brush to measure as risk of moving stone and automatically losing the shot.
9. Don’t use mobile phones on the ice during a game.
10. Don’t cross from one side of the sheet to the other in front of the playing team when they about to deliver or their stone is in motion.

How bad is the problem? A (fun) experiment was conducted up in Inverness recently when Nairn CC held their annual invitation bonspiel.

Alan Stanfield reports:

"Nairn Curling Club at its annual invitation bonspiel in Inverness for the Eric Brown Trophy saw eight rinks from Nairn and twelve rinks from neighbouring clubs take to the ice. It was also the occasion when all present were under the scrutiny of two umpires there to record their misdemeanours. In particular the ten most frequently broken rules (above) were the target for Alan Stanfield and Harold Forrester. No replaying stones or stones taken off but fines for each infringement, payable by the whole team. Fifty pence per offence in an end and do it again in another end and they were another fifty pence poorer!

Well, old habits die hard and despite each team being given a list of those rules at the start as well as posters on the noticeboard, many found their way into the umpires’ notebooks during the day. The winners on the day?

- The rink skipped by Neil Gallacher from Loch Ness CC who won the bonspiel.

- All 80 curlers present as they all left with a better knowledge of the rules, particularly the ‘top ten rule breakers’ and keen to take the message back to other curlers in their clubs.

- New curlers playing in their first club bonspiel left knowing more about the rules than they did at the start of the day and importantly not learning the wrong thing from seeing bad examples by more experienced curlers.

- The least offending teams from Inverness Hospitals, Ross Ladies, Ballindalloch and one of the Nairn rinks who were so good they parted with a mere £1.00 each. They were the recipients of a tangible reward from the umpires afterwards in the true ‘Spirit’ of Curling.

- Highland and Moray Junior Curling Club who were the recipients of the proceeds from their elders’ transgressions: £41.50 which will go to support the Club in its future activities.

We all have a responsibility to play the game within the rules, so this was a practical way to educate with a good measure of fun thrown in? Why not try it!"

If you have a strong disposition and are not easily offended, then there is a report on how Loch Ness achieved their success on the club's website here. (Wouldn't it be fun if there were more club websites like that of Loch Ness CC! Or perhaps it's just as well that it is unique.)

Summary of Broken Rules, and the consequences!

The Bonspiel Winners, Loch Ness CC. L-R: Alasdair Gillies, Neil Gallacher, Stewart Baird (Nairn CC), James MacRae and Gary Warburton.

Caught in the act!

Photos by Harold Forrester.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Edinburgh International 2011: The Winners

Here's the presentation photo of the winners of the Edinburgh International. L-R: Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow.

The story of the final day, the photo of the runners-up, and the prizewinners in the Seniors Championship, can all be found in the event blog here.

Photo by Robin Copland

Wheels at the Galleon

On Saturday, I had some photos from the British Open Wheelchair Championship at the Galleon, see here. Margaret Cathcart has sent this update on how the competition concluded.

She writes, " The British Open which was played at the Galleon from Friday, November 25 to Sunday, November 27 was a truly British affair. Peter Knapper and his team from Wales, and Stewart Pimblett and his team from England, along with two National Squad teams, skipped by Aileen Neilson and Gregor Ewan, were part of a field of ten teams.

In the round robin, there was a mixture of close and one-sided games. Both National Squad teams suffered a defeat which made the last round robin games very interesting as to who would qualify for the semifinals. Rosemary Lenton and her team of Jim Sellar, Robert McPherson and David Morgan finished the round robin undefeated to meet Paul Webster and his team of Alex Harvey, Gordon Rainey and Angela Higson. Gregor Ewan, with Jim Gault, Ian Donaldson and Gill Keith, topped his section to meet Aileen Neilson and her team of Tom Killin, Bill Masterton and Angie Malone, a National Squad team clash.

Team Lenton against Team Webster was a very close game which came down to the last stone when Rosemary Lenton’s draw was just a touch too heavy, allowing Team Webster a place in the final. In the other semifinal, Team Ewan was impressive and in command all the way against Team Neilson and comfortably won the other final place.

In the 3/4 playoff game Team Neilson gained revenge over Team Lenton for the defeat in the round robin.

In the final Team Webster stole a single at the first end but Team Ewan kept up the impressive play and took the next four ends and a comfortable lead to secure the British Open title. Gregor and Jim, sporting their trademark ‘Blues Brothers’ trilbies, were delighted to be taking the trophy back up the road to Elgin, having been part of last year’s winning team.

As always at wheelchair curling events the atmosphere was friendly and all games were played in the true spirit of the sport.

SWCA Chair Judy Mackenzie presented the Kate Caithness Trophy and prizes and thanked all the on ice helpers, the ice and catering staff of the Galleon and umpires Robin Shand and Colin Melrose for all their help. On behalf of the winning team, Gill Keith thanked all those involved in running the event."

Top: Judy Mackenzie with the winners, L-R, Gill Keith, Ian Donaldson, Jim Gault and Gregor Ewan. Photo courtesy of Robin Turner.

Baljaffray Update

The High Road winners of the Baljaffray U17 at Greenacres yesterday were the local team of James Carswell (skip), George McConnell, Ben Bremner and Peter Dagen. They beat Ross Whyte (skip), Zack Stewart, Fraser Kingan and Chris Howat, from Dumfries, in a one sided game.

Winners of the Low Road were Katie Murray (skip), Sophie Jackson, Gayle Allan and Lucy Morton. The Stirling team defeated Stranraer's Scott Wilson (skip), Calum Lammie, Neil Topping and Euan Kyle 6-3 in a tight game.

Thanks to Janice Howard for the report.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Edinburgh International 2011

Congratulations to Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow who won the Edinburgh International Championship at Murrayfield today, beating Sandy Reid, Moray Combe (fourth stones), Neil Macarthur, and David Soutar in the final. One down in the final end, Tom played a perfect raise takeout for the two he needed to win.

All the scores are here, and photos are on the event blog here.

This is a screenshot from the successful webcast from the event. Moray and Sandy are discussing strategy, with Greg and Tom behind.

Murrayfield Update

Robin Copland has an update on the Edinburgh International Curling Championship on the event blog here.

The results from Edinburgh can be found here.

Baljaffray at Greenacres

It was only the briefest of visits to Greenacres yesterday but I caught a little of this game between Bruce Mouat's side and Rachel Hannen's team.

Here are the other members of Team Hannen. Rachael Halliday is delivering, and Lauren McIntyre and Alison Fyfe are the sweepers.

Alastair Mitchell (behind) encourages his front end, Jack Brisbane and John Graham. Andrew Morton is in the head.

Naomi Brown and Shaun Rennie.

Naomi is thinking, "I wonder if Santa might bring me a hat like Karina's?"

(Apologies to Karina Aitken as she has already appeared in a caption competition!)

Meanwhile, the other members of the team, Laura Barr and Sophie Sinclair, are hard at work.

Shaun Rennie, whose team was Andrew Maitland, Janine Philips and Rachel Ireland.

Katie Murray, who had Lucy Morton substituting for the injured Kirsty Morton today, with Sophie Jackson and Gayle Allan as usual.

Findlay Kingan delivers his skip's stone, with the front end Fraser Morton and Callum Wright ready to sweep, Chalmers Porteus in the head.

Heather MacDonald is the one scratching her head as Carolyn Baird and Emma Reid follow her stone. Their skip, Mhairi Strang, is in the house.

Rebecca Morrison

Rebecca was skipping the Curl Aberdeen team against the Cameron Bryce team (Neil Sutherland, Callum Potts and Amy Bryce) from Borders.

And here are the Aberdeen team, Kirsty Lockhart delivering, and Alasdair Izat and Emma Scott on the sweeping.

Photo of the Day. "Enthusiastic supporters watch the action." (I'm pretty sure Calum Greenwood is NOT asleep, but I might be wrong!)

Here is the Gavin Barr team from Murrayfield. George Sinclair and Hamish Logan are the sweepers. I think Fraser Ewen will be in the head.

Craig Joiner skips the Forfar team of Adam Flint, Euan MacDiarmid and Ewan Maguire.

"Don't look now, Jenni, but he's pointing the camera at us again!" Jenni Cannon and Lauren Morgan.

Hard working umpire Ron Tosh is closely supervised!

The results are all here.

As usual, let me know if I have any names captioned incorrectly, or if I've got team lineups wrong. Photos © Skip Cottage.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Two Rink Day

I continue to be amazed at the variety our sport of curling brings to my life, and to this blog! Yes, I've been following some of the best teams in Scotland and in Europe competing at the Edinburgh International. Today, the following was done online, and watching this evening's webcast. Excellent that was, too.

I had an eye further afield, to Nanjing, China, where in front of a home crowd at the Olympic Sports Center, the Chinese men, skipped by Rui Liu, beat New Zealand (skip - expat Scot Peter de Boer) 5-2. In the women’s final, Bingyu Wang led her Chinese team to their fifth championship title, winning 11-3 against Korea (skip Ji-Sun Kim). All four of these teams gained their places in their respective World Championships. You can read more on this here.

At home, I visited both the Galleon Centre and the Greenacres rink today, both quite different venues, and quite different events. The Galleon was hosting the British Open Wheelchair Curling Championship. I've posted a few photos from this event below, to give you a flavour, and you can follow the results of the playoffs tomorrow here.

Later at Greenacres, I enjoyed the bustle of a packed rink as twenty-four under-17 teams contested the Baljaffray Trophy. Photos from this visit will go up tomorrow (hopefully), once I get some time to sort through the negatives! All the results though are here.

Our top skip Aileen Neilson did not have it all her own way this morning as her team of Tom Killin, Bill Masterton and Angie Malone lost to Rosemary Lenton's side, but they have still qualified for tomorrow's semifinals. "Nice hat, Aileen!"

Here's Angie, braced by Tom, with Jim Sellar, David Morgan and Robert McPherson, from the Lenton team, behind. "Er... Nice hat, Angie!"

And here's Rosemary, braced by Robert.

Here's Bill in action too.

Gordon Rainey, braced by Alec Harvie.

Murray and Evelyn Cran.

Stephen McGarry, braced by Jeff Ward.

Gregor Ewan and Jim Gault. Scary business this wheelchair curling, let me tell you!

Mike McKenzie suggests to Jackie Cayton what they'll be doing next!

I was happy with this shot of Angie and Tom.

Now, I have a wee story about these 'new faces', L-R: Stephen McGarry, Jeff Ward, Stewart Pimblett and Paula Longrigg hail from the north of England, and travel to Kelso for their curling. They have come into wheelchair curling from other sports, and are fiercely competitive. They are on a steep learning curve of course. They really need two things. Some sponsorship to help with their travel expenses in particular. And a coach who can help them towards their competitive goals - which have to be representing England of course. Are their any blogallies from south of the border who might be able to offer help?

Photos © Skip Cottage

Saturday at Murrayfield

Right, just a quick mention of the live webcast from the Edinburgh International this evening. I'm watching the Edwards - Snitil game. Bigger screen than last night, coming over smoothly, and I confess to liking Robin Copland's commentary. He paid me to say that.

Actually, Robin has the same easy way with the spoken word as he does in his Behind the Glass columns.

You can find all the results and standings on this page, and Bob Kelly has some great photos from today on the event blog here.

Top: View of the Murrayfield Rink, courtesy of Bob Kelly.

Above: Screenshot from tonight's live webcast!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Webcasting from Murrayfield

I looked in at the Murrayfield rink earlier today to see some of the play, and take some photos of the webcast crew at the Edinburgh International. I mentioned before that there is a nominal charge this year (just £3) to view the webcasts, all of them, really just so the organisers can get an estimate of the interest there is out there in the provision of moving images. Will it be in the tens, or hundreds, or thousands? What do you think?

Now I'm home and watching on my own laptop the second game to be webcast, between Jay McWilliam's team and the experienced Thomas Ulsrud side from Norway, making their first visit to the Edinburgh International, complete with their distinctive colourful trousers (of which Skip Cottage is a big fan, but you already knew that!).

Ulsrud counted four at the first, and I enjoyed (perhaps not the right word) watching how that happened. The video stream was pretty smooth, although the sound quality was not good at all to begin with, very broken up, and difficult to listen to. However, this problem was soon resolved and I was able to enjoy the wisdom of the commentary team, Robin Aitken and Trevor Dodds, without problem for the rest of the game! All in all it was a good viewing experience.

And here are the aforementioned Trevor and Robin. They had a short stint this evening as Ulsrud's team were dominant and the game was over early. I look forward to reading the McWilliam team's own thoughts on their blog in due course.

Here is the hub of the operation. Andrew Mitchell, nearest us, was helping out his brother Alex whose operation this is. That's him behind. At the back is Natalia Konopka, a student from Poland currently studying at Dundee College, who is helping out on the team.

John Good was up the gantry working the end-of-ice camera today.

I read with interest (here) how the organisers had discussed which games they wanted to webcast. They didn't ask me for my advice of course, although I would have thought they might have known. See above. THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN WATCHING A TEAM IN BLACK PLAYING AGAINST A TEAM IN BLACK, and that is how today's first game looked when the webcast started. I don't think that game is available yet to view on the catchup, so maybe things got better. It really is time for some of those involved in our sport - and I'll mention no names - to do things in a professional manner. (Mr Grumpy tonight, sorry.)

It was interesting to make the comparison between the Edinburgh efforts and the webcast from Wetzikon (the ZO Women's Curling Champions Tour event) also on this evening. The Laola output is extremely high standard, as I've mentioned before. Nothing of course beats being at an event in person, but this season I've realised, for the first time, how important it is for many to have access to webcasts and the like if they want to enjoy their sport, and are forced to do so 'from a distance'. It certainly beats just following a line score.

For all the end by end linescores from Edinburgh, go here. Some action photos are here.

More webcasts are scheduled for today, Saturday, see here.
Photos © Skip Cottage

New Zealand Qualifies for World Championship

I am rather excited to report that expat Scots Peter de Boer and Kenny Thomson, playing with Scott and Sean Becker with Phil Dowling as alternate and Peter Becker as coach, have qualified New Zealand for the 2012 Men's World Championship!

At the Pacific-Asia Championships in Nanjing, China, the Kiwis beat Korea in two straight games today in what was effectively a best of three semifinal, after their split of round robin games left both teams starting semis with one win and one loss, this record from the double round robin carrying forward to the best of five playoffs.

New Zealand now plays China in the Gold medal match tomorrow, Saturday, the Chinese men having beaten the Australians in the other set of matches. Both teams though are through to the World Men's Championship in Basel, March 31 - April 8.

Read more here. And here, on the New Zealand Curling Association website.

There is a gallery of photos, courtesy of the Chinese Curling Association, on the World Curling Federation website here. That's where the top photo is from, with Kenny on the left, and Pete in the centre. Scott Becker is nearest the camera.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

More Masters Qualifiers

I note that the teams skipped by Jim Beckett, Ian Dykes, Bob Parry and Bill Allison have qualified from the second leg of the National Masters Qualifying Competition at Greenacres which was completed today. These four teams join the six others who got through the first leg last week, see here. The National Masters Finals are at Greenacres, March 8-11.

The results are on the Royal Club website here.

Top: Jim Beckett delivers with Jim Winning ready to sweep.
Above: The Bob Parry team in action at Greenacres.

Photos are courtesy of Hugh Stewart.