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

Let The Season Begin…

It may still be August and I’m sure all our curling gear is in a cupboard or bag somewhere but for the pros out there, the season begins today (Friday) with the first event on the tour calendar.

Talking of calendars, look out for mine for the coming season as it will be online soon.

Europe’s premier season-long curling competition, the Curling Champions Tour, is back this weekend with a competition in Switzerland – the Baden Masters in, you guessed it, Baden.

Twenty teams are competing from early on Friday morning until the final on Sunday afternoon and there are two Scottish teams among them.

The big news, unless you have been checking the World Curling Tour website over the summer, is that Tom Brewster and David Murdoch are in Baden but skipping separate teams. In fact, a quick glance here down the list of team lineups shows that there have been plenty of changes this summer as we enter a new Olympic cycle.

Bear in mind that the RCCC have still not yet announced their World Class Performance athletes for the coming season so I think it’s safe to assume that we are in for a season of some great Murdoch v. Brewster clashes.

If you follow the European scene you will see that teams such as those skipped by de Cruz, Edin, Michel and Stjerne for example are displaying different (and in some cases very different) lineups to those that we saw last season. That said, it’s good to see World Champions Team Ulsrud from Norway keeping things familiar.

So who are the curlers representing Scotland out in Switzerland?

Well, David Murdoch is skipping Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow – the team that won that wonderful silver in Sochi.

Tom Brewster has Glen Muirhead, Ross Paterson and Hammy McMillan Jr in his team according to the World Curling Tour but Thomas Muirhead, Ross Paterson and Hammy McMillan Jr if you believe the Baden Masters website. A bit of digging sees Thomas down as the alternate on the WCT site so let’s just assume there are five men over in Switzerland.

All the teams have been divided into four groups of five which you can see here.

The Curling Champions Tour will be streaming some of the action from Baden here on their YouTube channel.

Odds on an early-season Brewster v. Murdoch game in the knockout stage anyone?

Images are © CCT

Stirling Summer Skins – The Winners

The champs!

This year’s Summer Skins was taking place at The Peak, Stirling last weekend and provided the usual mix of fun, great curling and outrageous outfits – see the Facebook page if you don’t believe me.

A total of 22 teams took part and they were whittled down to two for Sunday’s final between Team Gray and Team Ireland. It was a close affair but Team Gray took it and also bagged £350 across the weekend – well done!

Logan Gray is pictured above presenting the winners with their prize and they are (L-R): Michael Goodfellow, Lindsay Gray, Struan Wood and Ian Copland.

Photo is © Logan Gray 2014

Stirling Summer Skins 2014

When it comes to the sporting summer, curling probably hasn’t been on our minds of late what with the FIFA World Cup, the Wimbledon Championships and an upcoming Commonwealth Games to demand our attention.

I think it’s time to remind everyone that curling should always be on our minds! It certainly was on my recent trip to the USA where I was fortunate enough to visit one of the three locations to have hosted a Winter Olympics in the nation. I’ll give you a big clue – Great Britain won curling gold there in 2002…

But enough about my summer travels (I’m currently in Norway again by the way), let’s talk about the Stirling Summer Skins.

If you aren’t familiar with this event then take a look at my roundup from last season here.

Logan Gray, who does a great job organising the event each year, has been in touch to say that he is extending the deadline for entries to this year’s event which will be held from 1-3 August.

So if you want to get a team together you have until next Tuesday (8 July) to get your entries in – full details can be found here.

Having played in last year’s event I can strongly recommend it – great fun, great atmosphere and great ice.

What more could curlers with the off-season blues want?

Image is © Logan Gray 2013

WCF Loose Ends – 27 May

Instead of simply listing random links to everything on my ‘to write about’ list I thought it would make sense to have some thematic posts – this one concerns news from the World Curling Federation that I haven’t shared in the last few months.

Looking ahead to next season, some competition venues have been announced…

The 2014 European C Group Curling Championships will be held in Zoetermeer in the Netherlands between 6-11 October – more information is here.

Tallinn, Estonia will host the 2015 World Junior Curling Championships from 28 February to 8 March and this represents the first time that Estonia will have hosted a World Championship event.

The 2015 European Junior Curling Challenge is taking place in Prague, Czech Republic between 3-8 January and this will be the sixth time the country has staged this event.

Tårnby, Denmark is set to host the 2014 European Mixed Curling Championship from 13-20 September.

The World Wheelchair Curling Qualification Event will be hosted by Lillehammer, Norway from 1 to 6 November 2014 – the World Wheelchair Championship itself will be in Lohja, Finland in February 2015. The event in Lillehammer will be used to test the venue before the Winter Youth Olympics in February 2016.

Details of all the events above can be found here.

It’s great to see Estonia being awarded its first hosting duties and I’m sure you remember another Baltic nation, Latvia, hosting the Women’s Worlds in 2013. Of course you do – Scotland won gold.

Have a read of this article to find out more about curling in Latvia and the progress they are making.

Three of the biggest names in men’s curling were inducted into the World Curling Hall of Fame during this season’s World Men’s in Beijing, China.

Randy Ferbey (Canada), Patrick Hürlimann (Switzerland) and Eigil Ramsfjell (Norway) all join this list of curling’s elite – find out more about their achievements here.

The WCF has also published its latest World Rankings following the conclusion of this season’s Winter Olympic and World Championship events.

Here’s where the ‘home’ nations currently stand:

3 – Scotland/Great Britain (-1)
21 – England (+1)
27 – Wales (+1)
29 – Ireland (-6)

The biggest movers were Romania (+7) and Ireland (-6)

4 – Scotland/Great Britain (No change)
19 – England (No change)
31 – Wales (-2)
32 – Ireland (-2)

The biggest movers were Belarus and Slovenia (+4) and Germany and the Netherlands (-3)

You can view the full rankings here.

Finally, the latest World Curling Federation Newsletter is now available to read – take a look here.

Image is © WCF

The Olympic Effect In Wales

A Come and Try session in Wales

While you were probably aware of the curling buzz in Scotland created by the Winter Olympics did you know that Wales also saw a new wave of interest in our sport?

Christine Stewart explains:

The Welsh Curling Association celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and it could prove to be quite a celebration following the Winter Olympics.

After the Games in Sochi, Come and Try sessions were organised at Deeside Ice Rink starting on 3 March. 678 people took advantage of the opportunity to try the sport over seven sessions running through to the first week in April.

The total number who came to try in Wales added up to 1,604 over the seven sessions including three wheelchair users and some who used a delivery stick.

The Welsh curlers were helped by Gordon McIntyre and Stewart Sutherland from Scotland.

The interest was so great that the season has been extended to the end of June for a beginners’ summer league. And who knows – the person who made an enquiry from Hong Kong could turn up for that. They could be struggling for a spot though as 28 teams are listed and the Welsh Association have enough ice for twelve games in a session meaning some are on the reserve list.

So the WCA is thinking it needs a dedicated curling rink as well as the ice at Deeside to cope with the influx of new curlers.

Watch out aspiring Olympians – you could be looking at a challenge from Welsh curlers.

Deeside Leisure Centre

Photo is © Hugh Stewart 2014

Dumfries Postscript – Family Connections

It’s been too long since I posted something on here so it’s time to put things right.

I have a substantial list of things I intend to write about before I head off to warmer shores this summer and it would be good to properly draw a line under what was a memorable and busy season.

With that in mind Hugh and Christine Stewart, my ever-reliable contributors, sent me an interesting email about ‘family connections’ as a last word on the World Senior and World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships that took place in Dumfries at the end of April.

Trivia fans will enjoy this…

Gina Aitken from the Scotland Mixed Doubles team on the left and her aunt, Fiona Simpson, a permanent resident in Italy, represented the Italian Senior Women as Skip

Adrian Meikle from the Welsh Mixed Doubles team and his father Hugh, Third in the Welsh Senior Men’s team

Brothers Neil (on the left) and Alastair Fyfe represented Ireland’s Senior Men and England’s Senior Men respectively – their eligibility comes from their parents’ nationalities

Tommy Campbell and partner Elaine Turnbull – Third and Coach respectively in the English Senior Men’s Team

Sisters Margaret Richardson (on the left) and Janet Lindsay represented Scotland Senior Women at Third and Lead respectively

Dawn Watson and partner Adrian Meikle represented Wales in the Mixed Doubles

Photos are © Hugh Stewart 2014

Dumfries Winners Picture Post

As promised, here’s a selection of pictures of the medal-winning teams from the 2014 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and the World Senior Curling Championships.

2014 World Mixed Doubles Champions – Switzerland (L-R): Reto Gribi, Michelle Gribi, Allan Moore (Coach)

This win was Switzerland’s fifth since the tournament was established in 2008 – Hungary and Russia are the only other nations to have won World Mixed Doubles gold.

Did you know that Reto and Michelle are cousins?

Silver – Sweden (L-R): Per Noréen, Camilla Johansson, Mikael Andersson (Coach)

Per and Camilla won silver in Erzurum, Turkey in 2012 – Sweden have now won silver three years in succession at this event.

Bronze – Spain (L-R): Sergio Vez Labrador, Irantzu García Vez, Ruaraidh Whyte (Coach)

What an achievement for Team Spain in Dumfries as they claimed their federation’s first-ever international curling medal. ¡Felicidades!

The final Mixed Doubles rankings (out of 34) for the ‘home’ nations were as follows:

10 – Scotland
20 – Wales
26 – Ireland
33 – England

Brazil may have finished 34th but they recorded a famous victory against Kazakhstan – their federation’s first in any format of the game.

2014 World Senior Men’s Curling Champions – Canada

Mike Kennedy’s team continued Canada’s dominance of the Senior Men’s with the nation’s ninth World title in Dumfries.

Silver – Sweden

Swedish skip Connie Östlund won World Senior bronze in 2012 and now he has gone one better – another medal to add to his collection that includes World bronze from 1984.

Bronze – Australia

Medal collections don’t come much bigger than Australian skip Hugh Millikin’s and this third place finish in Dumfries gave him his fourth World Senior bronze and his 23rd medal overall – an international curling record.

The final World Senior Men’s rankings (out of 25) for the ‘home’ nations were as follows:

5 – England
6 – Ireland
7 – Scotland
14 – Wales

2014 World Senior Women’s Champions – Scotland

What a wonderful achievement for Scotland’s senior women to win gold on home ice for the second time (Carolyn Morris did it at Greenacres in 2005) and to stop Canada from winning their seventh title in a row.

Congratulations to Christine Cannon (Skip), Margaret Richardson (Third), Isobel Hannen (Second), Janet Lindsay (Lead), Margaret Robertson (Alternate) and Jackie Lockhart (Coach).

Scotland now join Canada and Sweden as the only nations to win multiple World Senior Women’s titles – in fact, they are the only three nations to win World Senior Women’s titles full stop.

Silver – Canada

Colleen Pinkney skipped Canada to World Senior Women’s gold in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2010 but there was to be no repeat performance in Dumfries.

Bronze – USA

Margie Smith skipped the USA to their fourth bronze at a World Senior Women’s.

The final World Senior Women’s rankings (out of 15) for the ‘home’ nations were as follows:

1 – Scotland
12 – England

Video highlights from the World Seniors are available here – thanks to David Peek for the link.

Similar clips from the World Mixed Doubles can be found here.

Photos are © WCF/Richard Gray 2014

Dumfries – Day 7 (Wednesday)

Wednesday was the last day of play at the 2014 World Mixed Doubles Championships and the World Senior Curling Championship.

As you may have already heard, Scotland won a gold medal!

Christine Cannon and her team (above) won the World Senior Women’s Curling Championship after beating Canada 6-5 in the final – they were 5-2 down going into the seventh end but a two and then a steal of two gave them the win.

Congratulations to Christine and her team on this fantastic achievement. A full picture post from the presentations is on the way.

The bronze medal was won by the USA after they defeated Sweden 8-3.

The senior men’s event was won by Canada – they saw off Sweden 7-2.

Senior men’s bronze went to Australia who beat the USA 6-3.

The World Mixed Doubles title was claimed by Switzerland after an 8-6 win against Sweden – they came back from 5-1 down in this one.

Bronze went to Spain who got a 7-4 win against the reigning champions from Hungary.

Watch this space for more pictures and final standings from Dumfries.

Photo is © WCF/Richard Gray 2014
Image is © WCF

Dumfries – Day 6 (Tuesday)

Tuesday was the final day of round-robin play at the 2014 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship and World Senior Curling Championships.

Here are the final ‘home’ nation results and what they meant in terms of playoff qualification:

Mixed Doubles
Italy 8-2 England (W1 L7)
Wales 7-2 Belarus (W4 L4)
Scotland 10-4 Estonia (W6 L2)

Ireland had already completed their campaign on Monday with a W1 L6 record.

This all meant that of the ‘home’ nations only Scotland with Bruce Mouat and Gina Aitken could progress in the competition and they earned themselves a quarter-final qualification game against the 2013 World Mixed Doubles Champions Hungary.

Unfortunately, Scotland could not overcome the reigning champions and the Hungarian duo won 7-5.

The quarter-finals on Tuesday evening went like this:

Switzerland 9-7 Austria
Russia 7-9 Spain (EE)
Norway 4-7 Hungary
Sweden 10-5 Czech Republic

Wednesday’s semi-final games are as follows:

Hungary v. Switzerland
Spain v. Sweden

The medal matches are in the afternoon and you can catch the final day’s action here.

Senior Men’s

For the ‘home’ nations the round-robin stage of the competition had already concluded on Monday and Ireland, England and Scotland all made Tuesday’s quarter-finals. As you will see, however, none of them could carry on their excellent form from the group stage:

Ireland 4-5 USA
Norway 6-7 Sweden
Australia 7-4 England
Canada 6-5 Scotland

Wednesday’s semi-final games are as follows:

Sweden v. Australia
Canada v. USA

Senior Women’s
Switzerland 3-6 Scotland (W5 L1)
England 1-9 New Zealand (W3 L4)

This meant that Scotland got a quarter-final berth against Slovakia which they won 8-4 and they now progress to Wednesday’s semi-finals:

USA v. Scotland
Canada v. Sweden

So having had ten ‘home’ nation teams to cheer at the start of the events in Dumfries we are down to just one on the final day – Christine Cannon’s senior women’s team.

They are only two wins away from the big prize so keep your eyes on the scores or, better yet, head to Dumfries and watch it live.

The event websites are here and here.

Image is © WCF