Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Haggis Bonspiel

Christine Stewart reports:

"The Tulloch Haggis weekend at Greenacres this past weekend attracted an entry of 24 teams, local teams, teams from Ireland, Wales and a very interesting 'English' team, John Brown and three Canadians (now English of course).

In two sections every team faced three eight end games to qualify, or not, for the High, Mid and Low roads.

John Brown, with two of his 'English' Canadians and one Irishman (Greg Dunn, Neil Maycock with Irish sub Alan Mitchell) took the Low Road title beating John Summers 7-3 in the final. One 'English' Canadian obviously didn’t fancy the team’s chances, he’d booked an early flight!

The Mid Road final produced an interesting result, from England John Sharp, Fiona Hawker, Alison Hemmings and Elspeth Burton got the glory winning 8-1 against Graeme Adam, Ken Horton, Gus Storie and Eddie Binks.

Two local teams had a tight fought final. James Logan, Alex Wilson, Drew Gemmell and William Smith took the title on a score line of 4-2 against Fraser Erskine, Drew Campbell, Jean Cousar and Gordon Christie.

The teams enjoyed dinner on Saturday night and of course on Sunday a supper of haggis, neeps and tatties."

Top photo: The Winners. L-R James Logan, William Smith, Alex Wilson, Drew Gemmell.

Runners-up: L-R Jean Cousar, Frazer Erskine, Drew Campbell, Gordon Christie.

Photos courtesy of Hugh Stewart.

Alternates for Oestersund

Jennifer Martin and Hamilton McMillan have been named as the fifth players for the Hannah Fleming and Kyle Smith teams heading for the World Junior Curling Championships in Oestersund, Sweden, March 3-11.

The event website is here.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Monday, January 30, 2012

Behind the Glass and More about Kinross

There's a new contribution from Robin Copland in Behind the Glass, here, or click on the link on the right. Robin takes us through a short history of curling rinks in Scotland, and as usual prods us into worrying about the state of the nation. For once I don't agree entirely with what he says, especially in his last couple of paragraphs, but again I know that many people don't agree with anything I say. Which matters not a whit to Robin or to me - the reason we do what we do in writing about the state of curling in Scotland is to get people talking about the subject. It's good to talk!

Robin doesn't mention the Kinross saga directly. I suspect, like many, his blood pressure goes up every time the subject is mentioned. A bit like the Edinburgh tram project. But at least progress is being made in Edinburgh.

I feel I almost have to apologise for bringing up the Kinross business again. I am sure many of you are suffering from 'Kinross fatigue', such is the length of time the saga has been running. But if the Kinross Curling Trust can't be bothered to keep their own website up to date, then I seem to be the only one in a position to tell the country what is happening. I'll be brief...

The info I posted before is still valid. That is all in the menu bar above. It went up there on December 5. It is not where it should be, on the Kinross Curling Trust website here. Now it's not really my job to tell grown men and women (some of them still friends, I hope) what they should be doing, but I would just say, "Hi folks, if you want to get support from the larger curling community for your efforts, then I suggest you keep us informed through your website about what is happening."

The most recent news is that the Trust AGM will be on Sunday, March 4, at 3 pm in the Loch Leven Suite, Green Hotel, Kinross.

In the letter accompanying the notice of the AGM, Bob Tait indicates on fundraising that a lot of approaches have been made to a lot of people and organisations, but no-one really wants to talk these days.

If I detect anything positive in Tait's communication, it is that the thinking seems more directed these days towards replacing the aging existing facility, rather than touting for support for a 'National Curling Centre' which, after all the trimming down, it wouldn't be anyway.

There's a footnote to Tait's letter which I must admit that I found rather petulant. Apparently it's all YOUR FAULT out there, that the project is barely off the ground. A question is asked, "But what about the wider curling community and the blazerati?" Apparently we are "Largely invisible and sleep walking to disaster." But, read the whole thing and judge for yourself. It's in the menu bar above in the page 'Conundrum'.

But does anyone care any more? Actually I'll know, as I can calculate how many blogallies click through to the Conundrum page. But don't worry, I'll keep that information to myself.

Scottish Juniors: Sunday Revisited

What a great day it was at Curl Aberdeen yesterday! As always with the juniors, there was passion aplenty. I congratulate the winners, and feel for those who came second. When you put your heart and soul into your sport, it IS hard to lose.

Anyway, enough of the philosophizing, here are some more photos from yesterday's semifinals and finals. I never managed to make a 'Team Post' of the Hazel Smith and Kyle Smith sides, but I hope the eight curlers in these teams will find themselves somewhere on this post and in yesterday's after the semifinal (here). All the other teams should find themselves somewhere in the archive from the past three days. Searching for a name should find pics of individuals - a register of who was present and correct at the Scottish Junior Finals 2012!

Team Blair Fraser between ends. Good team this, finished third, and could have gone all the way.

I seem to have known Struan Wood the longest of any of this year's junior finalists. Sadly, he now graduates from the junior ranks, as he 'ages out'.

Blair Fraser.

Jennifer Dodds. I think this is some sort of secret language! The script said that a Fleming - Dodds final was on the cards. But Hazel Smith had other ideas, and Jennifer and her team finished in third place.

Becca Kesley, third player in the Jennifer Dodds' team, who I inadvertently missed out in the photos after the semis.

Eilidh Templeton. (Special secret note buried in the blog to Helen King - 'Your girls did you proud!')

Sarah Wood swept her heart out for the Hazel Smith team, here with Eilidh on Naomi Whyte's stone.

I liked this photo of Naomi in 'serene' mode.

Hannah was thanking me for posting 'nice' photos of her this year. So, just to balance things up, here's one of her classic poses!

I don't think the umpire who was keeping an eye on the hogline perhaps realised what a picturesque spot he had picked!

Grant Hardie, fourth player in the Jay McWilliam side. Playing last stones for a team is a hard job, and I saw some outstanding shotmaking from him this week.

Keith Prentice is coach to the Jay McWilliam team. I'm sure the team will agree that he has been a great coach for them. A salute then to the 'Raging Bull' as he is affectionately called by his charges, whose team blog is here.

Young fans in the stands!

Rhiann Macleod (double Scottish medallist last season) models the required accessory for all hard core curling fans.

Abi and Lauren on Alice's stone in the final.

Kerr Drummond encourages Kyle Smith and Thomas Muirhead in the men's final.

The teams got piped into the lounge by Calum Brown for the presentations.

Pat Edington (Royal Club President), Claire McLaren (Ladies' Branch President) and Bruce Crawford (Royal Club CEO) took care of the proceedings efficiently.

There were two sportsmanship awards to present. Here Claire McLaren presents the Scottish Curler/Edinburgh Crystal award to Lauren Morgan, third player in Team Katie Wright. See Lauren in action here. I was pleased to see that the magazine still lives on in the name of the sportsmanship award.

Euan Kyle, lead of the Gregor Cannon team (see here) was voted to receive the Jim Aitken trophy.

Here's the winning team with coach Robin Halliday. Nice birthday present from the team to their coach (see here)!

Debbie Knox has been with these girls through thick and thin. Well done to all.

Keep your eyes on the Royal Club website for the announcement of who will travel with each team as the alternates for the World Junior Championships in Oestersund, Sweden, March 3-11.

Well done to all at Curl Aberdeen. Great rink, great facilities, great ice, friendly welcome. I understand that the Junior Finals are back here again next season, with the qualifiers at the Dewar's Rinks in Perth. Actually, I'm back here next weekend, all being well, but more about that later.

That's a wrap for now.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sweden Bound

L-R: Abi Brown, Alice Spence, Lauren Gray and Hannah Fleming.

L-R: Kerr Drummond, Kyle Waddell, Thomas Muirhead and Kyle Smith.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Scottish Juniors: The Finals

Thirteen year old Calum Brown piped the teams into the rink and on to the ice before today's Scottish Junior Championship Finals at Curl Aberdeen.

The teams are introduced. L-R: Kyle Smith (skip), Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell and Kerr Drummond; Grant Hardie (fourth), Colin Dick, Jay McWilliam (skip) and Billy Morton.

L-R: Hannah Fleming, Lauren Gray, Alice Spence and Abi Brown; Hazel Smith, Naomi Whyte, Sarah Wood and Eilidh Templeton.

Practice slides and the games were underway.

Jay's team had been the stronger when they met in the Page 1-2 game. This time Kyle's side were on a roll after coming though the semi. They held the edge with a stolen single at the fourth, and a two in the eighth saw them 5-2 up playing the ninth, and Sweden bound.

When the teams had met in the round robin, Hazel's team had messed up on a time out, and ran out of time. Hannah had won by default.

Hannah's team were on fire today though. A big four at the fourth established their dominance, and Team Fleming - bar slipups - were on their way to Sweden. There were no slipups!

You can find the linescores, and all the results from the competition on the Royal Club website here.

Semifinal pix

Some random photos from the semifinals. Above - Jennifer Dodds.

Hazel Smith

Vicky Wright

Thomas Sloan and Hammy McMillan.

A moment's contemplation for Jennifer Dodds!

Vicky Wright and Mhairi Baird

It will take you a moment to work out what is happening here!

Thomas Muirhead

Hazel Smith has delivered the stone, Sarah Wood and Eilidh Templeton are the sweepers.

Kerr Drummond and Thomas Muirhead

In the gallery, there's Hammy McMillan senior watching his grandson!

Blair Fraser

Kyle Waddell

Photos © Skip Cottage

Scottish Juniors: The Semis

Blair Fraser, Thomas Sloan, Hammy McMillan and Struan Wood, having finished third in the rankings, had awaited their chance to play for a place in this afternoon's Scottish Junior Championship final. Kyle Smith, Thomas Muirhead, Kyle Waddell and Kerr Drummond, had lost their Page 1-2 game against the Jay McWilliam side in a low scoring game, and were now on their second life, to reach the championship game.

The linescore is here.

The game was tied at six ends. Smith nosed in front in the seventh with a pair, and was still one up with the hammer coming down the tenth. Blair got one in near perfectly frozen, but Kyle was right on target with his run back to clear the Fraser stone away. Team Smith it will be in this afternoon's final for a rematch of the Page 1-2 game against the Jay McWilliam side.

Jennifer Dodds, Becca Kesley, Vicky Wright and Mhairi Baird were on their second life too, having lost their Page 1-2 game last night. Hazel Smith, Naomi Whyte, Sarah Wood and Eilidh Templeton were their opposition this morning.

Hazel had her draw weight perfectly, and this was a main factor in Team Smith being two ahead in the eighth. Coming down the last, they were still one up, with the hammer. Having had draw weight in her pocket all game, Hazel was just heavy with her last stone for the win, and it was into an extra!

Needing to steal, Jennifer's last had good weight, but wasn't hidden. Hazel's clearance slipped past the guard and removed the shot for the win! It will be Team Smith v Team Fleming in the final.

Photos © Skip Cottage. More to follow.

Team Gary Cannell

Team Gary Cannell

Ryan Craik, a local young curler, stepped in as substitute for the last couple of games, with Jamie Fraser unwell.

Fraser Thomson, 2nd.

Daryl Russell, 3rd.

Gary Cannell, skip.

Gary in the head against Andrew Neilson.

Photos © Skip Cottage