Monthly Archives: January 2014

Weekend Curling 31 January-2 February

The Scottish Curling Tour comes to an end this weekend with the Aberdeen City Open at Curl Aberdeen.

There are twenty-four teams taking part, split into two sections of twelve – games began this afternoon (Friday) and continue until the final on Sunday afternoon.

A very exciting finish is in prospect as the top three places in the season’s tour standings are still up for grabs. Here’s how the table looks going into this event:

David Edwards – 47 points
Ross McCleary – 46 points
Martin Lill – 35 points
Grant Hardie – 34 points

With Estonia’s Martin Lill not competing this weekend, the tour title will be won by one of the three Scottish teams above but who?

David Edwards and Ross McCleary look set to battle it out for first place but if results go their way, Grant Hardie’s team can overhaul them both! We should be in for a cracking weekend’s curling.

Remember, it’s 15 points for a tournament win, 11 for the runners-up, eight for the semi-finalists and five for the quarter-finalists.

This year’s event has quite an international feel to it with teams from Korea and the Netherlands among others.

So, going into Saturday how have the contenders fared?

2013 Tour Champion David Edwards has picked up two wins out of two as have Team Grant Hardie (playing as Team McWilliam this weekend) while Ross McCleary is on one win and one loss.

Follow all the rest of the action here.

Who’s your money on?

On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, it’s time for Canada’s best female teams to compete for their national title in the 2014 Canadian Women’s Curling Championship a.k.a. the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Getting underway in Montreal, Quebec on Saturday, this event runs until Thursday 9 February when we will know who is Canadian Women’s Champion and who will be Team Canada at the Women’s Worlds in Saint John, New Brunswick in the middle of March.

Twelve teams are competing for the biggest prize in Canadian Women’s curling:

Allison Ross – Quebec
Kim Dolan – Prince Edward Island
Stefanie Lawton – Saskatchewan
Chelsea Carey – Manitoba
Heather Smith – Nova Scotia
Kesa Van Osch – British Columbia
Allison Flaxey – Ontario
Val Sweeting – Alberta
Andrea Crawford – New Brunswick
Heather Strong – Newfoundland and Labrador
Sarah Koltun – Yukon/Northwest Territories
Rachel Homan – Team Canada (Ontario)

Here’s some trivia for you – Sarah Koltun becomes the first skip to compete in both the Scotties and the Canadian Juniors in the same season.

While I can’t see past Rachel Homan and her team winning back-to-back titles there will be strong opposition from the likes of Stefanie Lawton, Chelsea Carey and Val Sweeting. With Jennifer Jones otherwise engaged in Winter Olympic commitments it’s a great opportunity for a team to make a name for themselves.

You can follow all the action from Montreal here.

Images are © SCT and CCA

Competition Time – Curl Coach

I was recently contacted by Stephen Orr, developer of the newest curling application for the iPad called Curl Coach.

Stephen is a long-time software developer and as well as curling for approximately 12 years he is also a trained competitive curling coach.

Stephen has very kindly offered you, the readers of my blog, the chance to win a copy of this brand new app (worth $39.99) but first, here’s what Curl Coach can do:

The most recent entry into the world of charting apps for iOS, Curl Coach stands out from other charting apps by focusing on providing tools to coaches that help them to coach their teams, rather than simply delivering a bewildering array of shot-making statistics.

Curl Coach takes a novel approach to charting. Every shot starts with a broom position and the movement of the stones, and then adds the shot type, difficulty, turn and score. This enables Curl Coach to provide a fully animated replay of every shot in every game. The Strategy Book features the same animated playback, enabling the ability to take actual in-game situations, copy them to the strategy book, and add all the ‘what-if’ scenarios that you desire.

Entering all of the stones may seem like a big chore, but with a little practice it becomes very quick and natural. Curl Coach automates a number of areas of charting to make things as easy as possible, including determining the shot type and turn based on the motion of the stones, and setting the shot difficulty based on the type. If the shot is scored as a miss, Curl Coach automatically asks you to chart the miss reason (or reasons). If you do get behind in your charting, Curl Coach provides an easy way to catch up by just placing stones.

A true curling application requires stats, and stats is an area where Curl Coach over delivers. There are three main reports: the Player report summarises an individual’s career, the Team report summarises the performance of a team, and the Competition report provides analysis of all the games from a competition. In each of these reports, Curl Coach provides a number of standard sections and many optional sections. As a coach, you can customise which sections are included to suit your needs.

Curl Coach includes the capability to use the charting data to help plan and run practices. Select from more than 30 built-in curling drills, or create and share your own. During the practice, Curl Coach enables you to record the score achieved in each drill, and take notes for the team and individual players. With practices, Curl Coach provides functionality not found in any other curling app.

That’s only the beginning of what Curl Coach has to offer. If you are working with a competitive curling team, you should take a closer look at Curl Coach.

Here’s a list of notable coaches who are using Curl Coach today:

Bill Tschirhart – Canadian National Senior Coach
Al Moore – National Trainer, Swiss Curling
Daniel Rafael – Head Coach, Czech National Team
Shari Leibbrandt – National Junior Coach
Brett Kury – Coach for team Kelley Law
Murray Etherington – Head Coach, Brock University Curling
Byron Scott – Head Coach, Men’s Curling, University of Guelph
Allen Coliban – Romanian Curling Federation

Find out more at www.curlcoach.com

Stephen was good enough to provide me with a copy to have a play around with and I have to say I was very impressed.

As an RCCC Assistant Coach I am always keen to see what is new in the field of coaching or developing our sport – Curl Coach would appear to be a fantastic resource.

While it is perhaps more detailed than the average Sunday morning volunteer would need I have no doubt that for coaches and performance personnel at the elite level it is a great tool to have.

I found the layout to be clear, simple and relatively intuitive with handy tips to help you along the way when first experimenting with the app’s capabilities – the quick start feature is useful in this regard.

The built-in stopwatch with a logging facility was a nice touch as was the user guide which is embedded within the app itself.

It is the complete package with every possible detail a coach could require but I believe it would take patience and practice to enter all the relevant information and to get the most out of the app.

If you are willing to stick at it, however, I think you will have a very powerful and useful weapon in your coaching armoury.

So, fancy getting your hands on a copy?

Before I tell you how to enter and to avoid any disappointment, Curl Coach will only run on an iPad 2 or later or an iPad Mini running iOS 6 or later – the next version will require iOS7.

All you have to do to enter is send a message to the blog email address, theviewfromthehack@gmail.com, with the subject ‘I Want An App!’

This competition is open to anyone and you have until 23:59 UK time on Thursday 13 February 2014 to get your entry in.

One lucky winner will receive a download code to obtain a copy of Curl Coach and they will be notified shortly after the end of the competition.

Good Luck!

Images are © Stephen Orr

Scottish Junior Champions 2014

Here they are – Scotland’s Junior Curling Champions for 2014.

Scottish Junior Men’s Curling Champions 2014 – Team Smith (L-R): David Ramsay (coach), Cameron Smith (lead), Thomas Muirhead (third), Kyle Waddell (second), Kyle Smith (skip)

Kyle Smith and his team secured a third-straight Scottish Junior Men’s title at Curl Aberdeen on Sunday after beating Stuart Taylor’s rink 7-4 after nine ends.

They now go on to defend their World Junior title in Flims, Switzerland at the end of February.

Congratulations to Kyle, Thomas, Kyle, Cameron and coach David Ramsay for another impressive showing.

Scottish Junior Women’s Curling Champions 2014 – Team Aitken (L-R): Rachel Hannen (lead), Rowena Kerr (second), Naomi Brown (third), Gina Aitken (skip)

For Gina Aitken and her team, Sunday’s success represents their first Scottish Junior title – many congratulations to them and their coach David Aitken.

They saw off Katie Murray’s team 8-3 after nine ends in the final and you can read a full report of how the game went here.

We will now be seeing Team Aitken in Switzerland for the World Juniors where I am sure everyone will be behind them. For two of the players, Rowena Kerr and Naomi Brown, this will be their first taste of international curling.

Rachel Hannen was part of Team GB at the Youth Winter Olympics in 2012 while Gina herself was one half of Scotland’s World Mixed Doubles representatives last season.

Scotland’s juniors have come back with at least one World Junior medal every year since 2004 and I reckon the current crop can keep the run going.

Congratulations once again to both teams and best of luck in Flims.

All the scores from Aberdeen are here.

Photos are © Tom Brydone 2014

Weekend Roundup 24-26 January

The Curling Champions Tour was in Hamburg, Germany over the weekend for the German Masters.

Two Scottish teams were involved in this competition – Team Gray and Team Hardie.

Both teams completed their group campaigns on three wins and one loss with Grant Hardie’s team winning their group while Logan Gray came second in his.

This earned them both a quarter-final berth but sadly this is where their tournaments came to an end with Logan losing out to Rui Liu from China and Grant being defeated by Switzerland’s European Champions skipped by Sven Michel.

It was to be an all-Swiss final with Peter de Cruz losing out to the aforementioned European Champions from Adelboden.

Scores and pictures are available here.

Over in Liverpool, Nova Scotia the Canadian Junior Curling Championships came to an end on Sunday.

The junior women’s title was won by Alberta’s Kelsey Rocque and her team from Edmonton while the junior men’s event saw Manitoba capture their second title in a row thanks to Braden Calvert and his Winnipeg team.

I mentioned in an earlier post that there was a Mixed Doubles event for teams already eliminated from the main competition – mixed gender and mixed province.

This was won by Cameron de Jong (British Columbia) and Andrea Sinclair (Yukon).

The event website is here.

Images are © CCT and CCA

Weekend Curling 24-26 January

A somewhat quieter weekend of curling is in store compared with the last few weeks but we have some important events to keep track of nonetheless.

None more important than the Scottish Junior Curling Championships that have been underway at Curl Aberdeen since Tuesday.

This event concludes on Sunday afternoon so things are going to get serious over the weekend with the best juniors in the country fighting for the title and a trip to Switzerland for the World Juniors in Flims.

Until Friday afternoon we had some undefeated teams in this one but that has all changed leaving things tight at the top.

Here are the standings going into Saturday:

Junior Men (W-L)
6-1 Kyle Smith
5-2 Stuart Taylor, Robin Brydone, Cameron Bryce, Bruce Mouat
2-5 Ross Whyte, Grant Barr
1-7 Robert Tait
1-6 Andrew Callander

Junior Women (W-L)
6-1 Katie Murray
5-2 Jennifer Martin, Gina Aitken
4-3 Lesley Young, Karina Aitken, Fiona Spain
2-5 Dionne Clark, Amy MacDonald
0-8 Katie Wright

It looks like Kyle Smith and his reigning World Junior Champions and Katie Murray are the teams to beat in their respective draws but there are plenty of teams snapping at their heels.

Saturday sees the final group games and the 1v2 games after any tie-breakers that are required – something tells me we’ll be needing them.

The place to follow all the scores is here.

On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, Liverpool, Nova Scotia is hosting the Canadian Junior Curling Championships – this event also finishes on Sunday.

The playoffs get underway on Saturday. In the junior women’s semi-final Nova Scotia’s Mary Fay takes on British Columbia’s Kalia Van Osch. The winner advances to the final against Alberta’s Kelsey Rocque.

On Sunday, the junior men’s semi-final features Alberta’s Carter Lautner and New Brunswick’s Rene Comeau with the winner taking on Manitoba’s Braden Calvert in the final.

There is also a Mixed Doubles competition taking place for already eliminated players – a chance to enjoy the event some more and regain some pride no doubt.

The event website is here.

While we are on junior curling, take a look at this video of the 1998 World Junior Curling Championship men’s final between Canada and Scotland. Some stars of the future were on the ice that day for sure.

The Curling Champions Tour is in Hamburg, Germany this weekend for the German Masters.

Scotland has two representatives playing in this event in the shape of Team Logan Gray and Team Grant Hardie.

Play got underway on Friday morning and will conclude on Sunday afternoon – so far the Scottish boys have made a solid start.

Logan and his team have beaten John Jahr’s local rink and lost to Norway’s Markus Høiberg and sit fourth out of five in their group.

Team Hardie have two wins out of two against Switzerland’s Marc Pfister and Sweden’s Oskar Eriksson which puts them top of the table.

It’s great to see teams from China and the USA taking part as well.

All the scores from Hamburg are here.

Images are © RCCC, CCA and CCT

Red Square & Farmers

An unusual name for a post I’ll admit but all will become clear.

The Curling Champions Tour was in Moscow, Russia this week for the Red Square Classic – a very special pre-Sochi event that was played outdoors.

Scotland’s own Team David Edwards were in attendance alongside three Russian teams and one each from Switzerland, Denmark, Canada and the Czech Republic. Canada were represented by 2006 Olympic champion skip Brad Gushue.

Team Edwards picked up one win and two losses which was not enough for a place in the semi-finals but their blog would suggest that they still had a good time.

The event was won by Alexey Tselousov’s Russian team who beat Brad Gushue in the final.

All the results are here and I recommend taking a look at the gallery – what a location for a curling tournament even if the players had to shield their eyes from the winter sun!

Perth was hosting the Yara Farmers’ Curling Championship during the week.

76 teams were in attendance and it was last year’s winning skip, James Stark, who successfully defended his title – all the scores from Perth are here.

Photo is © Yara
Image is © CCT

Scottish Junior Curling Championships

Tuesday 21 saw the start of the 2014 Scottish Junior Curling Championships at Curl Aberdeen.

Nine junior men’s and nine junior women’s teams are in the Granite City hoping to be crowned the best Under 21 team in the country and earn the right to represent Scotland at the World Junior Curling Championships in Flims, Switzerland at the end of February.

The competition runs until Sunday 26 – here’s who’s playing:

Junior Men
Ross Whyte, Stuart Taylor, Cameron Bryce, Andrew Callander, Robin Brydone, Grant Barr, Bruce Mouat, Robert Tait, Kyle Smith

Junior Women
Fiona Spain, Lesley Young, Karina Aitken, Amy MacDonald, Dionne Clark, Katie Murray, Jennifer Martin, Katie Wright, Gina Aitken

The full team lineups can be found here.

In the junior men’s event, Kyle Smith and his World Junior Champions are back to defend their title from last year and they have got to be firm favourites to retain their Scottish junior crown. Expect stiff competition from the likes of Robin Brydone and Bruce Mouat however.

With Hannah Fleming ageing out and unable to defend her title, the junior women’s section looks a lot more open but expect to see Katie Murray, Jennifer Martin and Gina Aitken in the latter stages.

Keep up-to-date with all the scores from Aberdeen here.

When Scotland’s teams do get to Switzerland for those World Juniors, one of the teams to beat will be the Canadians – they are having their own junior championship right now which you can follow here.

Images are © RCCC and CCA

Curling History Made In Las Vegas

For the first time in the event’s history, the Continental Cup has been retained – the 2014 Champions, Team North America, are pictured above.

This represents Team North America’s sixth victory since the competition began in 2002 meaning the all-time stats are now 6-4 in Team North America’s favour.

This year’s competition was being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA and after four days of entertaining play it was Team North America who had beaten Team World by 35 points to 25.

Attendance records were broken during the event’s stay in Las Vegas – read the full report here for more information.

Some games from the competition are available to watch here.

Hugh and Christine Stewart, regular contributors to the blog, were lucky enough to be out in Las Vegas cheering on Team World and soaking up the atmosphere.

They also managed to get this blog mentioned in Nevada’s biggest newspaper the Las Vegas Review-Journal – I might have to start paying these two for promotional work!

Have a read here.

I’ll leave the final words (and pictures) on this year’s Continental Cup to Hugh and Christine.

Brooms Up Curling Supplies is on site at the Continental Cup in Las Vegas. Everything you need for your curling kit is available in their van here.

Gary Suslavich and his wife Megan started the company five years ago, both their son and daughter started as juniors and they spotted curling was a growing sport in the US. The numbers of curlers has grown from 12,000 to 16,000 in that time. The east and west coasts show the greater growth in the sport.

So they decided to start their company offering everything you need, shoes, clothing, brushes and sliders.

But you don’t have to be in Las Vegas to see or buy their goods, of course there is a website – www.broomsupcurling.com

Hay and Lindholm of Team World

Team World make some noise

The teams have the support of their team captain and a team coach.

David Hay is the team captain for Team World and the coach is Peter Lindholm. And what is a bit different at this event is that the manager and coach are at ice level, right at the home end of arena.

And that means all a player has to do is go to the scoreboard and have a chat with the support team. A bit different from calling a time out while the coach gets from the coaches’ bench to ice level.

The teams on the ice have the support of the players not playing in this session. They too are at ice level, front row seats, just a few steps from the ice pad. A player makes a good shot, their support group cheer and bang their hands on the side boards to acknowledge the shot.

What do the fans do between the draws? Well there’s a lot to choose from in the arena area.

Of course this being Las Vegas you could take your pick of casinos, or you could spend the time working out how to avoid them.

But for most of the fans here the answer is to head for The Patch. The Patch is a feature of Championships in Canada, go there to get something to eat, have a drink, meet your friends and enjoy the entertainment provided.

Here in Vegas with around 8,000 Canadians in town The Patch is doing a roaring trade.

And today they have something a bit different to do. The Olympics are in town. Just outside the arena there’s a show of everything you need to know about the 2014 Olympics, on a mini ice sheet, plastic of course, you can try your hand at throwing a stone or two. And of course learn everything you need to know about the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Tom and Karen Andrews off to Sochi?

I know I said that was the last word but there’s just a wee bit more to mention about the Continental Cup and, specifically, its future.

The 2014 edition was effectively the last as we know it in its current format – from 2015 onwards curling’s Ryder Cup will be ‘more Canadian’.

This article from the Canadian Curling Association explains what changes are afoot including the CCA taking control of the event from now on.

The number of Canadian teams participating will also be increased.

Can you see the pattern forming yet?

Personally, I thought the format was pretty good as it was but we’ll have to wait and see how the new direction affects this popular competition.

Photos are © WCF/CCA/Michael Burns 2014 and Hugh Stewart 2014

Weekend Roundup 17-19 January

The Curling Champions Tour was in Glasgow over the weekend for the Glynhill Ladies’ International at Braehead.

Alan Sloan sent a report:

EAST MEETS WEST IN GLYNHILL CURLING THRILLER

The 7th Glynhill Ladies’ International Curling Championship held over the weekend at Braehead Curling Rink reached a thrilling climax on Sunday afternoon when two of the Olympic contenders won through to the Championship final to battle it out for the magnificent silver kettle trophy.

Bingyu Wang and her fellow Chinese team of Yan Zhou, Qingshuang Yue, and Yin Liu, put on a devastating display of precision curling to overcome Switzerland’s representatives, the 2012 World Champions, Mirjam Ott, Carmen Schäfer, Carmen Küng and Janine Greiner by a score of nine shots to four after only six ends.

The contest was one of the best finals ever witnessed at Braehead and was by no means one way traffic. Each millimetre perfect shot was followed by another. Ott opened with a two at the first end but only after a measure had discounted a further two stones. The second end was even closer with five stones looking equidistantly clustered round the centre and by a matter of millimetres, Wang pulled back two to level the match.

The teams were level 4-4 at the half way stage, and two ends of sheer brilliance by the Chinese saw them pull away into an unassailable 9-5 lead, by which time the bemused Ott rink conceded.

Earlier in the day, Wang had beaten the fancied Russian Olympic rink of Anna Sidorova by six shots to five in the first semi-final, and Ott had outplayed the 2013 champion and fellow Swiss rink of Binia Feltscher by five shots to two.

The three Scots rinks competing had mixed results with only Lorna Vevers’ rink of Sarah Reid, Becca Kesley and Rachel Hannen winning through in the Consolation Event to the semi-finals where they lost out seven shots to five on the very last stone to another Swiss rink skipped by Alina Pätz. Pätz went on to secure the Consolation title with a thrilling 11-9 win over Team Albatross from Russia.

The 7th Glynhill Ladies’ International, a Curling Champions Tour event with points counting towards World Rankings, brought together 16 of the world’s best female curling teams and was a precursor to the Olympic championships which will take place in Sochi, Russia next month where GB will be represented by the Scots rink of Eve Muirhead. Muirhead missed the Glynhill event as she was competing in the Continental Cup in Las Vegas this weekend.

(L-R): Yan Zhou, Qingshuang Yue, Yin Liu, Bingyu Wang

Alan Sloan, Chairman Glynhill Ladies’ International Curling Championship (left), Maroulla Nicholas, Principal, Glynhill Hotel (centre), Karen Cromar, GLI Committee (right) with Team Wang

All the scores from Braehead are here.

After the second round of qualifiers for the Scottish Men’s Curling Championship at Dumfries, we now know who will be playing for the national title in Perth in February.

One of the following ten teams will be celebrating come 16 February:

Grant Hardie, Warwick Smith, Blair Fraser, Moray Combe, Lee McCleary, Ewan MacDonald, Logan Gray, Kyle Smith, David Edwards, John Hamilton.

Who’s your money on?

All the qualifying scores are here.

The second of this season’s Under 14 Slams was being held at Curl Aberdeen on Saturday.

This one was won by Callum Kinnear’s team and you can read a report here. What an achievement for one of Callum’s teammates, Duncan McFadzean, to win a Slam at all age levels (U14, U17 and U21) all in the same season.

All the Aberdeen scores are here.

The Irish Curling Association was holding this season’s Four Nations at Lanarkshire Ice Rink, Hamilton.

England beat Wales to win the Kay Trophy, Scotland beat Ireland to win the Marshall Millennium Trophy, Scotland beat England to win the Tom Ballantyne Trophy, Scotland beat England to win the Connie Miller Trophy, Wales beat Ireland to win the Meikle Trophy, Wales beat Scotland to win the Big Bertha Stone and Ireland beat England to win the Turnbull Cup.

Keeping up?

All the results are here and here and some photos are available here.

Team Great Britain were doing very well in the Scottish Wheelchair Curling Association’s British Open, also at Hamilton, but I cannot seem to find out who won the event – keep an eye on the Wheelchair Curling Blog for news.

Finally, you will remember from my preview of the weekend’s action that Scotland’s own Team David Edwards were Moscow-bound for the Red Square Classic – an outdoor Curling Champions Tour event in Red Square, Moscow, Russia.

They made their flight after a quick turnaround from their Scottish qualifying exploits in Dumfries and are currently sitting on a record of one win and two losses which puts them sixth out of eight teams overall and third in their group.

The event website is here – the gallery is well-worth looking at.

Photos are © Leslie Ingram-Brown 2014
Images are © CCT, RCCC and ICA

Yara Farmers’ Curling Championship

The Yara Famers’ Curling Championship got underway today (Monday) in Perth – here’s the official press release:

Europe’s largest annual curling competition takes to the ice from Monday 20 to Friday 24 January at the Dewars Centre in Perth.

A firm and very popular fixture in the Scottish farming calendar, the Yara Farmers’ Curling Championship will see 76 teams, made up of some of Europe’s top curlers, compete over five days of intense curling competition.

Alan Wood, Yara Area Manager and Championship organiser, said: “Last year, James Stark, Alastair Hodge, Andy Reed and John Cannon from Duns fought their way through some very close contests to claim the well-deserved 2013 Championship title trophy and significant cash prize.”

“This year we have some promising new entries as well as some returning teams that will all be aiming to secure the title of 2014 Championship winners away from James Stark and his team.”

Mr Wood continued: “A new team skipped by David Hay, coach of the silver medal winning ladies’ team at the recent European Championships, looks to be promising.”

“We have seen some great contests over the years and the Championship is always really well supported. This year, spectators and competitors will be able to keep up to date with scores on the new Yara UK website – www.yara.co.uk

The Dewars centre in Perth is situated in the heart of a vibrant agricultural community. “It is the perfect location for the Championship” explained Mr Wood “and just a short distance from our new Dundee bagging facility and offices.”

2013 Yara Farmers’ Curling Champions: James Stark from Duns received the trophy from Yara’s Benoit Lamaison and Rosie Carne, with (left) Alastair Hodge, Yara’s Alan Wood, Andy Reed and John Cannon

Photos are © Yara