Weekend Curling 26-28 September

The first women’s event on this season’s Curling Champions Tour began yesterday (Friday) in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Stockholm Ladies Curling Cup sees twenty of the world’s best female teams competing in the Swedish capital and apart from the likes of Feltscher, Homan, Jones, Sidorova and Sigfridsson there are two Scottish teams to be found in the lineup.

Eve Muirhead is there with her team of Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Sarah Reid while Lauren Gray skips a team consisting of Jennifer Dodds, Vicky Wright and Mhairi Baird.

The teams have been split into four groups of five with the top two in each group progressing to the playoffs.

Team Muirhead began with a 7-3 win over Ontario’s Sherry Middaugh but then lost two games in succession – 7-5 to Switzerland’s Michèle Jäggi and 5-4 in an extra end to Anna Hasselborg of Sweden.

Team Muirhead’s final game was against Sweden’s Jonna McManus and they won that one 6-3.

Lauren Gray’s team started with a 7-2 defeat to Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni but followed this up with a win against another Swiss team, skipped by Melanie Barbezat, 5-3. They then lost 7-6 to Germany’s Imogen Oona Lehmann and 9-2 to Margaretha Sigfridsson of Sweden.

This means that Team Muirhead finished on W2 L2 and Team Gray on W1 L3 – sadly we will not be seeing either team in the playoffs.

Something that really caught my attention was the game between Olympic Champion Jennifer Jones and Isabella Wranå’s young Swedish team. The local girls had a day to remember as they defeated Jones and her team 8-1 after just four ends – incredible stuff when you consider that this was the Swedish team’s only win of the weekend.

The event website is here where you can find links to live games.

The first event on this season’s Scottish Curling Tour calendar is being played at Braehead this weekend with the Braehead Open.

28 teams from Scotland, Sweden, China, Wales, Ireland and Estonia are in attendance playing in a Schenkel format and there have been some big scorelines already – 18-0 and 21-1 for example.

I’ll let you find out who was on the wrong end of those though! Scores from Braehead are here.

Finally, I should be bringing you details of the Under 17 Slam from Lockerbie but the RCCC’s website appears to be offline at the moment.

Watch this space…

Images are © CCT, SCT and RCCC

Kinross Refurbishment Complete

Some great news from Kinross Curling this week courtesy of Eileen Thomas:

The curling community of Kinross celebrated the successful refurbishment of their rink with a bonspiel on Saturday 20 September.

During the April to September off-season, Kinross curling rink has been given a major overhaul costing over £1M.

The building was stripped back to its steel frame, the floor excavated and then rebuilt. A new concrete floor was created with various layers including heating to avoid ground heave, insulation and 13km of pipes carrying the refrigerant. The walls and roof are now insulated and a new ice plant, boilers and ducting for air and heating have been installed. A new electricity sub-station also had to be built.

Two years ago the facility, built in 1977 as an extension to the Green Hotel, was facing closure as the refrigerant used in its ice plant is soon to be outlawed under EU regulations and the building required major investment to remain fit for purpose.

The Kinross Curling Trust, a charitable body with around 400 curlers as members, arranged to take over the running of the curling rink from the owners via a long lease and set about raising the required funds for the refurbishment.

The largest contributor was sportscotland who gave a grant of £400,000 and a grant of £125,000 was received from Perth and Kinross Council. At the opening bonspiel, Trustee Doug Ritchie particularly thanked the fundraising efforts of members of the Kinross Curling Trust, saying: “The key to securing external funding has been the contributions from curlers and local bodies – around £390,000 in total through donations and loans – a magnificent achievement.”

The Kinross Curling Trust has already successfully run the curling rink for one season prior to the refurbishment. Mr Ritchie, who is the Trust’s Business Manager, said: “We enter the new season with a state of the art ice hall which should enable us to provide very high quality ice and excellent curling.”

Kinross Curling Trust plans further improvements in the future, such as disabled access to the upper floor lounge.

Eighty members of the Kinross Curling Trust took part in the Opening Bonspiel, a fun, social event, on Saturday 20 September.

A formal opening ceremony for the refurbished facility will take place in November.

To see how the rink looks now I suggest you take a look at these pictures – what a difference.

Great to see all the hard work paying off and here’s to many years of curling in Kinross.

Photo is © Andy Macpherson 2014

Blythswood Celebrate 150 Years

My ever-dependable contributors Hugh and Christine Stewart have sent me a piece regarding the 150th anniversary celebrations of Blythswood Curling Club.

Many congratulations to the Club on reaching this milestone and I hope you enjoy reading about their history:

It was exactly 150 years ago on 12 September 1864 that Blythswood Curling Club was founded when thirteen local men met in the Red Smiddy near Inchinnan to establish the Club. One of the founders was Lt. Colonel Archibald Campbell who later became Lord Blythswood from the Blythswood Estate in Renfrew where he lived, hence the name of the Club. Blythswood House was located on what is now the 15th hole of Renfrew Golf Club.

Lord Blythswood was a remarkable man. He joined the army at sixteen and fought in the Crimean War. He was a Tory MP and Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire. He was an amateur scientist and had a laboratory at Blythswood House. He experimented with cathode rays, X-rays and radioactivity.

Those thirteen original members established traditions that are kept alive by the modern day members. Then, as now, the members were enthusiastic about the game and enjoyed playing it. In the 19th century that meant travelling in the winter to wherever there was ice. The club did have its own pond on the Blythswood Estate but the club minutes also record games at Lochwinnoch, Paisley, Bishopton, Greenock, Port Glasgow and various locations on the River Cart. Nowadays things are probably a bit easier but members do still have to brave the journey up to Greenacres no matter the weather!

Then, as now, the club played against many other local clubs. In 1887, for example, Blythswood played Erskine for two bags of meal and one ton of coal. Erskine won the meal and Blythswood won the coal! These early relationships continue today with friendly matches against other teams and in local league games.

Then, as now, the club valued the social aspect of membership. In the early days the club frequented establishments which are no longer with us such as Mrs. Woodrow’s Inn, Booth’s Hotel and the County Hotel in Renfrew. In the more recent past Friarshall Hotel in Paisley was a frequent meeting place but since its demise the River Inn in Crosslee has been the venue for Annual General Meetings and dinners.

Finally, then, as now, the club was optimistic about its future. In the early days the number of members attending an AGM could be as low as four or five but the club always managed to keep going. At other times the numbers reached over forty and there was a waiting list for membership. Today Blythswood is going against the trend of many clubs and is maintaining its membership.   

The club would love to recruit new members so if you are interested, please email their Secretary: joyce-wilcox@ntlworld.com

At the Renfrewshire Council Reception, Provost Anne Hall welcomes and congratulates members of Blythswood Curling Club

President Pandy Courtney expresses the thanks of the Club and presents the Lady Provost with a gift

Members and guests who attended the Reception with President Pandy Courtney (centre, front row) with Provost Anne Hall on her right and Vice President of the RCCC Billy Howat on her left

President Michael Burton of Renfrewshire Province presents the Club with an anniversary gift

Members and guest teams from Renfrewshire Province clubs who played in the anniversary bonspiel at Greenacres

Photos are © Hugh Stewart 2014
Image is © Blythswood Curling Club

Weekend Roundup 19-21 September

The European Mixed Curling Championship came to an end on Saturday in Tårnby, Denmark and my last report saw the event heading into the semi-finals – here’s how they panned out:

Norway 5-4 Scotland
Sweden 4-2 Switzerland

This meant that Scotland dropped to the bronze medal game where they would play Switzerland while Norway and Sweden contested the final.

The bronze game was close all the way but the Swiss were able to make better use of last stone advantage and they came away with a 7-5 win in a match that featured no steals.

By contrast, the gold game was virtually over before it started as Sweden took a 5-0 lead against Norway after two ends thanks to a steal of four in the second – the game ended 9-2 after six ends.

Sweden become the sixth nation to win the European Mixed and also the last as next season sees a World Mixed Championship being added to the calendar.

Pictures from the final day’s play are here.

Officially, the ‘home’ nations finished in the following positions (out of 25 teams):

4 – Scotland
14 – England
18 – Wales

Reports on all of Scotland’s games can be found here.

Teams Muirhead and Murdoch were in World Curling Tour action over the weekend at the Shorty Jenkins Classic in Brockville, Ontario.

Team Murdoch won four and lost one to make the playoffs where they faced Team Adam Casey of Prince Edward Island in the quarter-finals but they would go no further as the Canadians took it 6-3. The men’s event was won by Olympic Champions Team Brad Jacobs from Ontario who beat the aforementioned Casey 7-1 in just four ends.

Team Muirhead, like Team Murdoch, won four and lost one to qualify for the playoffs and after seeing off Ontario’s Rachel Homan 6-4 a place in the final was their reward.

Another Ontario team, skipped by Sherry Middaugh, were the opponents and despite Eve and the girls battling back from 4-1 down to lead 5-4 it was a four for Team Middaugh in the seventh that killed it and the Canadians won 8-5.

All the men’s scores from Brockville are here and the women’s are here.

Finally, the first leg of the Curling Champions Tour’s European Junior Curling Tour, the Braehead Junior International was taking place in Glasgow.

It may have been the advantage of home ice but Scotland came away with both the boys’ and girls’ titles at Braehead as well as both third-place spots – well done all!

Bruce Mouat and his team of Duncan Menzies, Derrick Sloan and Angus Dowell saw off reigning World Junior Champion Yannick Schwaller from Switzerland 4-3 after an extra end while Gina Aitken’s team of Naomi Brown, Rowena Kerr and Rachel Hannen beat Switzerland’s Elena Stern 6-5.

Pictures of the winning teams can be found here.

Cameron Bryce and Karina Aitken claimed third place in the boys’ and girls’ events respectively.

Not a bad weekend’s work for Scotland’s junior teams I’m sure you will agree.

Images are © WCF, WCT and CCT

Weekend Curling 19-21 September

Two of Scotland’s teams find themselves in Canada this weekend for the Shorty Jenkins Classic – a World Curling Tour event in Brockville, Ontario.

Play got underway on Thursday with the final games scheduled for Sunday.

Sochi Team GB skip David Murdoch is there with Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow and they find themselves in a formidable field of 24 teams from around the world – look out for the likes of de Cruz, Edin, Gushue, Howard, Jacobs, Ménard, Michel and Stoughton.

Oh and don’t forget Dumfries-born William Lyburn playing with his Winnipeg, Manitoba team.

Team Murdoch started with a defeat (10-5) to Ontario’s Mark Kean but bounced back with a 6-4 win against another team from Ontario, skipped by Jeff McCrady, despite being 4-2 down going into the seventh.

Their third game is against Rob Rumfeldt from (you guessed it) Ontario and you can watch it LIVE here right now.

Keep track of all the scores from the event here.

In the women’s competition, Eve Muirhead is skipping the only non-Canadian team in a field of twelve which includes Rachel Homan.

If you weren’t already aware, Eve has a slightly different team to the one we have been used to seeing for the past few seasons after lead player Claire Hamilton decided not to continue with the team for the 2014-15 season.

You can read Claire’s statement here (scroll to 1 May) and I’m sure we all wish her well in any future endeavours.

EDIT: Andy Macpherson got in touch with a link that should shed some light on what Claire is up to now – it looks like she is swapping the brush for a bike!

Team Muirhead’s new lead player is a familiar face in the form of Sarah Reid – read what she said of the move here (scroll to 15 August).

Sarah made her first international appearance ten years ago skipping Scotland at the World Juniors where she finished seventh but just three years later she won the event with a certain Eve Muirhead at third. Sarah was also alternate for Eve when she won silver at the Women’s Worlds in 2010 and the same colour medal at the Europeans in 2012.

So back to the here and now where the new Team Muirhead started with a 6-3 win against Lauren Mann of Quebec which was followed up by a big 10-1 win in five ends against another Quebec team, skipped by Kimberly Mastine – a steal of five in the fifth ended the game.

Their next game is against Ontario’s Lisa Farnell and you can follow all the scores from Brockville here.

The first leg of the European Junior Curling Tour, part of the Curling Champions Tour, begins this weekend with the Braehead Junior International in Glasgow.

Ten junior men’s and six junior women’s teams are competing including nine from Scotland, five from Switzerland and two from Sweden – disappointing numbers given the event was hoping to attract twelve teams of each gender.

Scores are nowhere to be found on any of the official sources but Forfar Young Curlers’ Facebook profile is doing a grand job of keeping us all up to date – the final games at Braehead are on Sunday.

Images are © WCT and CCT

Tårnby Update

Thursday saw the last day of round-robin play at the European Mixed Curling Championship in Tårnby, Denmark.

England finished on a W2 L5 record, Wales on W3 L4 and Scotland on W6 L1 meaning Scotland gained automatic qualification and would be the only ‘home’ representatives in the playoffs.

After two tie-breakers it was on to Friday evening’s quarter-finals:

Denmark 3-7 Switzerland
Scotland 7-5 Finland
Russia 5-6 Sweden
Hungary 3-5 Norway

So Saturday morning’s semi-finals look like this:

Scotland v. Norway
Sweden v. Switzerland

The games are at 0900 UK time and Kyle Smith and his team are just one win away from a place in the European Mixed final – best of luck to Team Scotland.

You can follow all the scores from Tårnby here.

Image is © WCF

2014 European Mixed Curling Championship

While some of us may not even have set foot on the ice yet this season, for others the international curling calendar is well underway.

Tårnby, Denmark is currently hosting the European Mixed Curling Championship – a competition for teams made up of two males and two females.

From next season, we will be seeing this competition on a world stage but more on that another day.

You may remember last season’s event was held in Edinburgh and it proved to be a very enjoyable occasion even if there were technical issues at the very start.

This post should give you all you need to know about this year’s Championship.

25 teams are competing and they have been divided up as follows:

Group A: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey
Group B: Czech Republic, England, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Switzerland
Group C: Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Spain, Wales

As you can see, three ‘home’ nations teams are in attendance – sadly no Ireland to make the full house but still a very good showing.

England are skipped by Ben Fowler and he has Lorna Rettig, Nigel Patrick and Anna Fowler (Ben’s sister) in his team.

Scotland have Kyle Smith, Hannah Fleming, Billy Morton and Alice Spence in their lineup while Welsh skip Adrian Meikle has a team of Dawn Watson, Andrew Tanner and Laura Beever.

Scotland are also represented by Chief Ice Maker Mark Callan in Denmark.

If you’re looking for big names in the tournament then they don’t come much bigger than Germany’s third player Andrea Schöpp – seven European and two World titles are just some of her career highlights.

Full lineups are here.

The 2014 edition of this tournament is the tenth overall and has seen Scotland claim four titles, Germany two and one each for Finland, Switzerland and Wales.

Play began in Tårnby on Sunday and here is how the ‘home’ nations look after two full days of play:

England W1 L2
Scotland W2 L1
Wales W2 L1

Group play concludes on Thursday evening with playoffs scheduled for Friday and Saturday – a full schedule is here. Do bear in mind for keeping track of scores that Denmark is one hour ahead of the UK.

One result from Tårnby caught my eye and that was the Germany v. Netherlands clash on Sunday afternoon.

The two nations share a fierce sporting rivalry and this year’s event brought together a German team with a great deal of international experience and a Dutch outfit boasting two players making their first appearances for their country.

Their pride was to be short-lived, however, as in the first end of their first game they promptly lost a SEVEN to the Germans and went on to lose 15-0 in six ends.

Things, as they say, can only get better.

Images is © WCF

Weekend Winners – 12-14 September

Greenacres was hosting the Junior Masters over the weekend – the first of four Under 21 Slam events of the season.

Twelve junior men’s and eight junior women’s teams were in attendance looking to get their Slam campaigns off to a good start.

The junior men’s final saw Grant Barr taking on Ross Whyte and with Team Whyte taking a 4-0 lead after two ends the result never looked in doubt and they took it 9-3.

Katie Murray and Amy MacDonald contested the junior women’s final and it was last season’s Champion Murray who came out on top 7-4 with a steal of two in the sixth proving crucial.

A full report is available here and all the results from Greenacres are here.

Greenacres Junior Women’s Masters Champions (L-R): Katie Murray (Skip), Sophie Jackson (Third), Hailey Duff (Second), Ellie Fraser (Lead)

Greenacres Junior Men’s Masters Champions (L-R): Ross Whyte (Skip), James Baird (Third), Gavin Barr (Second), Euan Kyle (Lead)

Photos are © Bob Cowan 2014
Image is © RCCC

Scotland On Tour

Having been in Switzerland last weekend for the Baden Masters, Team Murdoch now find themselves in Oakville, Ontario, Canada for the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard.

This event began on Thursday 4 September and features thirty men’s teams from around the world – Edin, McEwen, Ménard and Shuster should be familiar names as well as our own Olympic medallists.

David Murdoch and his team of Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow were drawn in a group with two teams from the USA, John Shuster and Greg Eigner, as well as two Canadian teams skipped by Chris Gardner and Dumfries-born William Lyburn.

Happily, Team Murdoch won all four of their group games:

4-2 v. Lyburn
5-3 v. Shuster
7-2 v. Gardner
8-2 v. Eigner

A great effort so far and in doing so they have made it to Sunday’s quarter-finals, opponent as yet unknown.

To follow all the action, check out the WCT event page here.

EDIT: Team Murdoch saw off Niklas Edin’s Swedish outfit in the quarters but lost out to Team Epping of Canada in the semi-finals. The event was won by Mike McEwen.

Also, as you can see here, a Scottish team came fourth in the weekend’s wheelchair curling Danish Cup – Gregor Ewan, Robert McPherson, John Doyle and Hugh Nibloe were the players involved.

Image is © WCT

Baden Update

Two Scottish teams are out in Switzerland this weekend for the Baden Masters – the inaugural tour event of the season.

Team Brewster won two of their round-robin games:

7-3 v. Team Bangerter (Switzerland)
6-5 v. Team Gulbis (Latvia)

But they did not make the playoffs as they lost two as well:

2-6 v. Team Ulsrud (Norway)
4-7 v. Team Pfister (Switzerland)

Team Murdoch had a more successful run in the competition picking up three wins and one loss in the round-robin to make the quarter-finals:

3-4 v. Team Ruch (Switzerland)
5-2 v. Team Freiberger (Switzerland)
6-3 v. Team Stjerne (Denmark)
7-2 v. Team van Dorp (Netherlands)

They then faced Swiss outfit Team de Cruz for a place in the semis and while this one started simply enough with blanks and a single Team Murdoch lost a big six in the fourth and they never recovered, going down 8-3 in six ends.

Four very strong teams make up the semi-finals – Edin, Michel, Ulsrud and de Cruz.

You can follow the remaining action here on the event website.

EDIT: The event was won by Norwegian World Champions Team Ulsrud and with seven victories out of seven they have started the season in fine form.

Image is © CCT