Monthly Archives: August 2013

It’s Official…

Team Muirhead – now Team GB

It was arguably the worst-kept secret in British curling but today it was confirmed by the British Olympic Association that Eve Muirhead and her team of Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton will be representing Great Britain in women’s curling at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

They are the first athletes to be officially named as part of Team GB for the 2014 games.

Eve said: “I am thrilled to be part of Team GB in Sochi. This will be my second Olympics and I’m excited – having won the worlds this year we want to continue our winning streak. It’s not often we get to compete as Team GB and, as proud as we are to compete for Scotland, it’s great to be part of a British team too.”

With Eve, Anna, Vicki and Claire going into the Winter Olympics as World Champions, we can surely look forward to seeing them feature prominently in Sochi.

More details about the team and their selection are here on the RCCC website – the news also made the BBC Sport website today.

One issue remains, however.

Team GB will require an alternate for Sochi but with the already documented clash of the Games with the Scottish Championships, who would be willing to give up their place at the nationals?

Lauren Gray was Team Muirhead’s alternate in Riga where they won world gold but she will presumably be playing for Team Hannah Fleming at the nationals – a team justifiably expected to perform very well and potentially win their first Scottish title.

Watch this space.

The British Paralympic Association also announced the Paralympics GB team for Sochi today.

Gregor Ewan, Tom Killin, Aileen Neilson and Robert McPherson are the wheelchair curlers who will feature next year.

Tom Killin is the most experienced member of the team and he said: “I am over the moon to be selected for Sochi 2014. This will be my fifth Paralympics and I am as excited today as I was on my first selection [to compete in Wheelchair Fencing] for Arnhem 1980.”

You can read more about their selection here.

Once we know the men’s team, the Team GB lineup for Sochi will be complete although it would be safe to assume that the ready-made quintet of Murdoch, Brewster, Drummond, Andrews and Goodfellow are going to be on the plane to Russia.

Photo is © Richard Gray/WCF 2013

Loose Ends – 22 August

Well, my Masters dissertation is complete and I have been relaxing somewhat but that doesn’t mean that my excitement about the coming curling season has taken a back seat.

I would have liked to have had more content up over the summer and rounded off last season a bit more neatly but some things are more important than curling. Just…

Before I get the site into season-ready mode with a new calendar and previews here is some curling news you might have missed.

For world champions Team Muirhead, their season has already begun with a World Curling Tour event in the USA.

Last weekend they were competing at the Fort Wayne Summer Cash Spiel in Fort Wayne, Indiana where they were up against eleven women’s teams from the USA, China and Canada.

Eve and her team were in Pool A and made the playoffs with a W3 L2 record but lost out to eventual winner Bingyu Wang of China in the semi-finals.

You can see all the scores and other information about the event here.

Not a bad start for Team Muirhead – I’m sure we will see plenty more of them in the season to come.

Speaking of the season to come, the highlight will surely be the Winter Olympics.

Team GB’s winter athletes have been taking part in team-building exercises including a snowball fight in Bath(!)

There was a familiar face on a video to accompany the event on the BBC website – Scott Andrews.

You can watch the full video here. How many curlers can you spot?

The episode of Songs of Praise that featured curling is also available to watch here on the BBC website – our sport features from around 11.15 in the clip.

As you will be aware, Glasgow is hosting the Commonwealth Games next year and via Facebook I saw that the baton for the Queen’s Baton Relay incorporates some Ailsa Craig granite. Looks like curling will feature after all…

EDIT: Sandy Morton tells me that the baton will also feature wood from Millport – one of the founding clubs of the RCCC. The club will be celebrating 175 years this year.

The RCCC have announced the draws for some of their upcoming competitions including the Scottish Senior Mixed and the Scottish Senior Men’s Qualifiers. Full details are here.

Finally, the third New Zealand Winter Games is currently underway.

This multi-sport event is held every two years for athletes from around the world – the official website is here,

The WCF has details of the curling results and standings here.

Loose Ends – 11 August

A few points of interest this week as we rapidly approach the new season.

Louise Kerr from The Galloway Gazette (and Irish Senior Women’s player) has been in touch with a piece about Irish curling.

Ireland’s World Senior Men’s Champions 2012 (L-R): David Hume, Tony Tierney, David Whyte, Bill Gray, Johnjo Kenny

The Irish Curling Association celebrated its 20th birthday this year and can look back with pride on the achievements of its small band of curlers which includes a world title in 2012.

But, with most members in bus pass territory, the association is always keen to attract new curlers – of all ages, sizes, abilities and nationalities.

The ICA was only officially recognised by the World and European Curling Federations in 2003 but the nine years of international competition since have harvested one world title at senior level for the men; one gold, two silver and a bronze for the men at European B Division, plus an appearance at the men’s world championships, and a gold medal at European C Division for the ladies.

For the association’s talented and competitive members, regular international competition could become a pathway to representing Ireland at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The players who represent Ireland in international competition are either born in Ireland, live in Ireland or have Irish parents and since 2011 the WCF rules mean that sometimes even an Irish grandparent may suffice to be eligible to compete in international events.

This small nucleus who fit the criteria required are fully supported by what could loosely be called the ‘ordinary’ members, those who cannot qualify but play in ICA competitions through the curling season. The fixture list consists of five one-day bonspiels at various ice rinks and a weekend competition at Stranraer that combines four games of curling with a dinner dance and fundraising raffle. There are also training days organised throughout the season to improve skills.

On the third weekend of January each year it’s the popular ‘Four Nations Weekend’ with on-ice battles between male, female and mixed teams from Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. Although a step down in quality from official international competition, the players from each nation fight tooth and nail for each valuable point and the Four Nations has produced some terrific down-to-the-wire, nail-biting finishes over the years.

If you are interested in joining the Irish for serious competition or just for the chance to curl with a group of people who love the game – including its social side – contact Secretary Bill Gray at secretary@irish-curling.org

If you want to relive Ireland’s Senior Men winning gold in Denmark in 2012, then this video should do the trick.

The excellent Irish Curling Association website is here.

The latest Royal Caledonian Curling Club Annual is now available to buy from the RCCC website. You can find out how to order here – orders received on or before Saturday 31 August will get a discount.

The Curling History Blog has a new post about curling stone handle pouches – have a read here.

Finally, you may remember this story from June on the RCCC website about our sport being featured on the BBC programme Songs of Praise. The piece said that the episode in question would be broadcast sometime in August and, sure enough, it will air one week from today on Sunday 18 August at 1700 on BBC One.

Photo is © ICA 2012

Sunday Gossip Column

I won’t be making this a regular feature unless I decide to take my site in a tabloid direction for the new season…

I have two pieces of curling news today – one good and the other not so good. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

You’ll recall that at the RCCC’s AGM back in June it was confirmed that Scotland was bidding to host the 2016 World Men’s Curling Championship and it was announced that Edinburgh had been chosen ahead of Glasgow as the potential host city.

I have it on good authority that this bid has failed.

The last time a World Men’s was held in Scotland was at the Braehead Arena, Glasgow in 2000 – it now seems that a wait of over fifteen years until the next one is inevitable.

If I hear any more on this I will post something.

This place should be familiar to curlers everywhere.

It’s Ailsa Craig, the volcanic plug that sits in the Firth of Clyde and gives us the granite used to make curling stones.

I took the above photograph on a cruise in August 2012 – despite having passed it several times, I have never managed to photograph it with clear conditions. One day…

By the way, it’s up for sale as well.

So how does this humble island relate to a piece of curling gossip?

Well, Kays of Scotland manufacture curling stones using Ailsa Craig’s microgranite – they have exclusive harvesting rights and have been doing so for over 150 years.

The company, based in Mauchline, are also the official suppliers to the World Curling Federation.

On their website, Kays also claim to be the only company in the world making Olympic specification stones using new and not recycled granite.

As with most things curling-related in Scotland, Kays have a Canadian rival in the shape of Canada Curling Stone Co. who use granite from Trefor in Wales.

Earlier this year, malicious rumours began circulating in North America about Kays running out of granite and potentially going out of business entirely.

I understand that this is simply not true and that business is booming for Kays at the present time. As well as what my sources tell me about the company, evidence can be found on Twitter where Mark Callan (manager of Kays) paid a visit to the island with representatives from the WCF in the last fortnight. See what Mark posted here and here.

While they are no longer allowed to blast on the island, Kays have identified plenty of material in the form of boulders that can be utilised in the future to make those polished beauties we know so well.

On Canada Curling Stone’s website I suggest you take a look at the ‘Granite Types’ section. Their biased descriptions of Ailsa Craig granite compared to their favoured Trefor are plain to see.

I think it’s a shame that something so fundamental to our sport, the very equipment we use, can cause so much antagonism. Curling stones are beautiful objects in my opinion, unlike anything else in the sporting world.

Let’s hope that this dispute doesn’t spoil our game in years to come.

Photo is © Ted Edmunds/TVFTH 2013