Monthly Archives: February 2014

2014 World Junior Curling Championships

The 2014 World Junior Curling Championships got underway in Flims, Switzerland on Wednesday morning.

Round-robin play continues until Sunday evening with medal games on Wednesday 5 March.

For viewing purposes, which I will discuss later, Flims is one hour ahead of the UK. This is the third time the town has hosted this event having done so previously in 2003 and 2010.

With the recent focus of international curling having been on Sochi and the Winter Olympics, it’s now time to see how the potential Olympians of the future fare in junior curling’s biggest tournament.

For those unfamiliar with eligibility regarding this event, competing players must be less than 21 years of age by the end of 30 June of the year immediately preceding the year in which the championship is to take place.

So who is competing at the Waldhaus Arena?

Junior men’s teams: Austria, Canada, China, Italy, Norway, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland, Sweden, USA

Junior women’s teams: Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Korea, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland, Sweden, USA

Austria’s junior men are making their debut at this level.

Here’s who is representing Scotland over in Switzerland:

Scotland Junior Men (L-R): Kyle Smith (Skip), Thomas Muirhead (Third), Kyle Waddell (Second), Cameron Smith (Lead), Duncan Menzies (Alternate)

Kyle Smith returns to defend his World Junior title that he won with this team in Sochi in 2013 along with coach David Ramsay and they have a great chance of retaining the brilliant gold they won last year.

Scotland Junior Women (L-R): Gina Aitken (Skip), Naomi Brown (Third), Rowena Kerr (Second), Rachel Hannen (Lead), Mhairi Baird (Alternate)

Having won her first Scottish Junior title at the end of January, Gina Aitken earned the right to take her team to the World Juniors for the first time – they have coach David Aitken with them in Switzerland.

The very best of luck to both Scotland teams in Flims.

Scotland has a great record at the World Juniors and the last time neither team managed a medal was back in 2003.

So how did the two 2014 teams fare on the first day of play?

Scotland’s junior women were up first and faced first-timers Korea but despite the Koreans inexperience at this level they ran out 10-7 winners after an extra-end. Gina and her team made up for this with an 8-7 win over Denmark in their second game.

Kyle and his defending champions have had a great start – they beat Austria 9-4 and then the USA 7-2.

Junior Men’s Standings (W-L)
2-0 Italy, Norway, Russia, Scotland
1-1 Sweden, Switzerland
0-2 Austria, Canada, China, USA

Junior Women’s Standings (W-L)
2-0 Canada, Russia, Switzerland
1-1 Korea, Scotland, Sweden, USA
0-2 Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy

Early days yet but a promising start from Scotland’s teams – the full schedule of play is here.

The World Curling Federation is streaming live games here on its YouTube channel.

In the round-robin phase, three Scotland games are scheduled to appear live:

Wednesday 27 – 1900 – Scotland v. USA (Junior Men)
Saturday 2 – 1300 – Scotland v. Switzerland (Junior Women)
Sunday 3 – 1500 – Scotland v. Italy (Junior Women)

All times are UK.

For all the latest scores and more information the official event website is here.

Photos are © WCF/Richard Gray 2014
Image is © WCF

Loose Ends – Dumfries

With the Winter Olympics over, the focus can now return to domestic action.

Dumfries Ice Bowl has been busy of late with two events being hosted back-to-back.

The weekend of 22-23 February saw the Scottish Junior Curling Club Challenge Division 3 taking place with eight teams divided into two sections of four – the top two from each made the playoffs with the winners earning promotion to Division 2.

Judging by the final tables it would appear that Stranraer B did not appear at this event and officially lost every game 6-0 as a result.

Forfar B, Braehead, Perth and Lockerbie were the teams who made it to the knockout stages but the RCCC’s results page here is unclear – does anyone know who won for sure?

Forfar B appear to have won two knockout games and are presumably promoted whereas Perth and Lockerbie won one each. I hope I’m not missing something obvious…

Once this junior event was over, it was time for the Henderson Bishop Trophy which began on Monday 24 and concludes today (Thursday).

Having won their way through their local ice rinks, 20 ladies’ teams are competing across four league sections. Section winners qualified for the final knockout stages of the Henderson Bishop whilst runners-up head for the Cherrystone Trophy.

All the scores and competing players can be found here. Gina Aitken appears on one of the team lists but she is otherwise engaged in Switzerland just now. More on that later…

EDIT: The event was won by a Dumfries team consisting of Naomi Whyte, Fiona Telfer, Heather Morton and Sophie Jackson. They saw off Susan Kesley’s Murrayfield rink 6-4 in Thursday’s final. The Cherrystone was claimed by Lanarkshire’s Isobel Waddell and her team. The report is here.

Image is © RCCC

Team GB Curlers Return

They’re back!

After a gruelling Winter Olympic curling tournament, several flights, numerous press calls and even a meeting with the Prime Minister at Number 10, Great Britain’s curlers are back in Scotland.

They got a wonderful welcome home from friends, family and fans at the Edinburgh Airport Hilton on Tuesday evening and I popped down to get some photos of the teams and their hard-earned silverware.

Lauren Gray, alternate for Team GB’s women, and her very proud brother Logan

A closer look at Lauren’s bronze medal from Sochi

They look bigger in real life – what an impressive piece of kit

Second for Team GB’s men, here’s Scott Andrews and his Olympic silver

I included this one only because Tom Brewster’s medal is shining so brightly!

If you want to hear a Q&A session hosted by Alison Walker that featured all the athletes as well as the coaches then have a listen below – it’s well worth it to hear Tom Brewster’s comment about the tea at Downing Street.

Photos are © Ted Edmunds/TVFTH 2014

Scottish Championships Pictures

A week after the event, it’s about time I put some pictures from the Scottish Curling Championships in Perth on the blog.

For future reference, I now have a Flickr account linked to the blog where you will find the bulk of pictures from events that I go to – check it regularly for photo updates.

Scottish Men’s Curling Champions 2014 – Team MacDonald (L-R): Tom Pendreigh (Coach), Euan Byers (Lead), Dave Reid (Second), Duncan Fernie (Third), Ewan MacDonald (Skip)

Ewan MacDonald won his sixth Scottish title (second as skip) on Sunday 16 February after beating David Edwards 6-4 in the final – this was Euan Byers’ sixth title as well.

Ewan’s team won eleven straight games in Perth and looked very impressive throughout. When was the last time a team went undefeated at the Scottish? Does anyone know?

EDIT: Bob Kelly got in touch to say that when Colin Hamilton’s team of Bob, Vic Moran and Colin Barr won in the 1993-4 season they went undefeated. Ian Brookes also contacted me to say that in 2003 Edith Loudon, Karen Addison, Lynn Cameron and Katie Loudon also won all their games.

A full report of the game is available here.

Ewan and his team now go on to represent Scotland at the World Men’s Curling Championship in Beijing, China from 29 March to 6 April.

Scottish Women’s Curling Champions 2014 – Team Barr (L-R): Kerry Barr (Skip), Rachael Simms (Third), Rhiann Macleod (Second), Barbara McPake (Lead), Keith MacLennan (Coach)

Kerry Barr won her first Scottish Championship after seeing off Hannah Fleming’s much-fancied team 9-3 in the women’s final. The scoreline does not reflect the game, however, as it was a tight contest that was ended by a steal of four for Team Barr in the ninth end.

For Rachael and Rhiann, this was their second Scottish title having won in 2009 and 2011 respectively.

The full story of the game is here.

Kerry’s team now head to Canada for the World Women’s Curling Championship in Saint John, New Brunswick from 15-23 March.

Remember to keep checking my new Flickr account for pictures from the last few days of the Championships.

Photos are © Ted Edmunds/TVFTH 2014

Sochi – Curling Day 12 (Friday)

So the Winter Olympic journey is over and there was to be no fairytale ending for Team Great Britain but the history they have made and the medals they are coming home with make for a wonderful story.

With Eve Muirhead and the girls having secured a bronze medal on Thursday it was up to the men to try and capture Great Britain’s first men’s curling gold since 1924 against Brad Jacobs and Canada.

In a tournament where David, Greg, Scott and Michael had occasionally dazzled us with brilliant shotmaking and exemplary teamwork it was a shame for them to finish their campaign with something of a whimper against the Canadians.

But I’m not here to spread doom and gloom, question the five-man system or to rise to the frankly embarrassing and misguided Tweets that were coming out of Canada during the game – I’d instead like to reflect on a job well done from Team GB’s curlers.

The first end of the men’s final was not what we have come to expect from teams like these and Canada ended up taking their two with the hammer. This was a lead that not only would they never surrender, but one that they would extend as the British boys just didn’t seem to be at the races.

Looking to get back on terms, Great Britain could only score a single in two and cracks were beginning to show. The third end was to be the turning point.

Jacobs and his team had built up a collection of stones in the house and when David Murdoch wrecked on a guard with his final stone the alarm bells were ringing. Jacobs drew for three and GB were 5-1 down.

An umpire’s measure that gave the Canadians a steal of one in the fourth would have dashed the hopes of even the most ardent GB fan. The lead was cut by another British single in five but the damage had been done and the score at the break was 6-2.

A Canadian two straight after the break killed off any GB resolve to keep going and the remaining ends seemed a formality. Another single from GB when David couldn’t stick his shooter and a single from Canada in eight and it was all over.

After the game, Great Britain skip David Murdoch reflected. He said: “I’m disappointed, that was the opportunity of a lifetime but it wasn’t meant to be today. We did everything we could to try to start well, and we just didn’t. We had a poor start and gave them a lot of confidence as well. Obviously going 5-1 down, it’s always going to be an uphill struggle after that. The first three ends cost us the game. It didn’t really matter what we did in the second half.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8  9 10 Total
CAN* 2 0 3 1 0 2 0 1 X X 9
0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 X X 3

A 9-3 defeat in an Olympic final looks bad on paper but it in no way reflects the tournament the GB boys had. Right from the outset they never looked like they were in the final and it was effectively over as a contest within three ends – they made it too easy for the Canadians.

It was a disappointing way to end the campaign and we would have loved to have seen a nail-biting, ten-end game with high drama but it just never materialised. I think the biggest drama was Michael Goodfellow being asked to change his shirt during the game…

On reflection, however, a silver medal is an amazing achievement.

Before this tournament, Great Britain’s men and women only had one medal each in Olympic curling history – they now have four between them.

In their pre-Sochi predictions I don’t think many people believed that the men could get a medal, myself included. Maybe a scraped bronze or a close tie-breaker game so to secure a silver medal is superb and I am sure we are all very proud of David, Greg, Scott, Michael and, of course, Tom Brewster. It was Tom that assembled three-quarters of this team after all and despite not throwing a stone in Russia this medal is as much, if not more, his than anyone’s

Great Britain – Men’s Silver Medal Winners (L-R): Tom Brewster, Michael Goodfellow, Scott Andrews, Greg Drummond, David Murdoch

Before the men’s final we had the bronze medal game between Sweden and China – this proved to be an interesting one to watch.

World Champion skip Niklas Edin and his team (above) claimed Sweden’s first men’s Olympic curling medal since 1924 after stealing two in an extra-end against Rui Liu’s China.

A close contest, it was two hogline violations by the Chinese players that surprised the viewers and made for some interesting changes in strategy from the Swedes.

They played the extra-end really well and left Liu nothing to work with – worthy winners of an Olympic medal.

Final Men’s Rankings (W-L)
9-2 Canada (Gold)
7-5 Great Britain (Silver)
9-2 Sweden (Bronze)
7-4 China
5-5 Norway
4-5 Denmark
3-6 Russia
3-6 Switzerland
2-7 USA
1-8 Germany

So that was the 2014 Winter Olympic curling competition. After all the buildup and excitement it was over in the blink of an eye.

I will have a review of the Games in the near future including medal pictures, statistics and my own reflections on my first Olympics that I have blogged on.

I apologise for not having any final day content from the Scottish Championships on here yet but rest assured it is coming – if you schedule a national championship for the same time as the Olympics then people get behind I guess…

Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed all the action and have been inspired by our medal-winning teams to work hard and support your teammates next time you are out on the ice.

To Eve, Anna, Vicki, Claire and Lauren and to David, Greg, Scott, Michael and Tom we are very proud of you all – well done guys!

Only another four years until Pyeongchang…

Photos are © WCF/Richard Gray and WCF/Michael Burns 2014

Sochi – Curling Day 11 (Thursday)

After a twelve year wait for a curling medal at a Winter Olympics the Great Britain women’s team of Eve Muirhead, Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton claimed a brilliant bronze medal in Sochi on Thursday.

Many congratulations girls!

While some argued that Eve and her World Champions were real contenders for gold, they will no doubt be over the moon with this performance having picked themselves up from losing the semi-final to Canada on Wednesday.

Whatever happens now, this team enters this history books as only the third Great Britain team ever to win a medal at a Winter Olympics following the men’s gold of 1924 and the women’s gold of 2002.

In fact, with this year’s men playing in the final Team GB will double its all-time curling medal tally in one Olympics – impressive stuff and a fantastic achievement.

So how did they do it?

Eve and her team were playing Mirjam Ott and her Swiss rink, the World Champions from 2012.

The first end was blanked before Ott took her two with last stone advantage to take the lead. GB picked up a single to keep in touch in the third before the Swiss got a single of their own in four.

The fifth end saw Muirhead make a double takeout with her first stone then a nose hit for two to tie the game up going into the break.

Switzerland only managed another single in six before GB wisely blanked the seventh to retain hammer in the even ends. A two was duly taken for Great Britain meaning they had the lead for the first time in the game and were now really hitting their stride.

Great setup play from the GB girls meant that Ott was forced to draw for one in the ninth meaning the game was level going down the last, GB with hammer.

This tenth end was always under control from Great Britain and when Eve was left a draw to win it, she hit the button and the bronze was theirs – take a look at her final shot here.

You have to feel sympathy for Mirjam and her Swiss rink, however, as they have now finished fourth in two consecutive Olympics.

Following their win, Great Britain skip Eve Muirhead said: “It feels fantastic. I’m super chuffed. It was such a great game which could have went either way. We were trailing a lot of the time but we turned it. We made sure we scored in those even ends.

“Everyone was fantastic. We could have got frustrated but we hung in there and it shows just how much we’ve put in. I really think we deserved to get this Olympic medal.”

Lead Claire Hamilton added: “We’ve all worked so hard and I think that has showed this week in how we’ve pulled together as a team and it finally paid off for us. We’re just delighted to get the medal.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8  9 10 Total
GBR 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 2 0 1 6
0 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 5

Great Britain – Women’s Bronze Medal Winners (L-R): Lauren Gray, Claire Hamilton, Vicki Adams, Anna Sloan, Eve Muirhead

The gold medal game took place a few hours after the bronze and saw Jennifer Jones’ Canada take on Sweden skipped by Margaretha Sigfridsson.

It was the Canadians who celebrated their first women’s curling gold since 1998 after beating the Swedes 6-3 in nine ends.

Jennifer Jones and her team played eleven games in Sochi and won them all, something that has never been done by an Olympic women’s curling team. I think we all expected them to be tough opponents at these Games but not as dominant as they were.

Margaretha Sigfridsson, meanwhile, is fast becoming the ‘nearly woman’ of international curling as she now has silver medals from an Olympic Games, a World Juniors, a Europeans and four Worlds.

Final Women’s Rankings (W-L)
11-0 Canada (Gold)
8-3 Sweden (Silver)
6-5 Great Britain (Bronze)
5-6 Switzerland
4-5 Japan
4-5 Denmark
4-5 China
3-6 Korea
3-6 Russia
1-8 USA

So there is just one day of the Olympic curling competition left and what a day it will be.

First up at 0830 UK time we have China and Sweden battling it out for the bronze medal – could we see the first men’s Olympic medal from an Asia-Pacific region nation?

Then, it’s the big one.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing you will not want to miss the men’s Olympic final between Great Britain and Canada at 1330 UK time.

We are now guaranteed two medals at these Games thanks to the girls’ exploits and the icing on the cake would be a gold medal from the boys. Brad Jacobs’ Canadian team got the better of David Murdoch and co. in the round-robin but this is a one-off game where anything is possible.

It all comes down to this.

So David, Greg, Scott and Michael we all wish you the very, very best of luck: go for gold, get revenge on Canada, channel the spirit of 1924 and 2002, prevent the unprecedented Canadian double gold and, while you’re at it, win me some cash!

You can do it!

Photos are © WCF/Richard Gray 2014

Sochi – Curling Day 10 (Wednesday)

Semi-final day at the Winter Olympics saw vastly different emotions for Team Great Britain – such is the fickle nature of this sport of ours.

We had agony one minute but sheer ecstasy just a few hours later.

I love pictures like the one of Great Britain’s men above because they say and mean so much.

David Murdoch and his team played Niklas Edin and his World Champions from Sweden in their semi-final to see who would play for gold on Friday and who would play for bronze.

Once again this one went right down to the final stone of the tenth end.

After the first end was blanked, Great Britain picked up a steal when Edin rolled too far with a takeout attempt. Sweden managed to take their two in the third and after a blanked fourth GB scored a single to make it 2-2 at the break.

Something the Great Britain men seem to have done well in Sochi is steal and they did it again in the sixth before Sweden tied things up again in the seventh.

Murdoch then faced a decision in the eighth to blank and retain hammer or score a single and surrender last stone advantage. After talking with the team the decision was made to score the single – it would prove to be a wise move.

Sweden duly took their two in the ninth with hammer meaning GB were one down coming home but with last stone.

Despite some wayward shots from GB, the end was still there to be won and when Edin’s final stone just missed its intended target Murdoch had a draw, with backing, to the four foot to take two and make the final. Showing the composure he has demonstrated all tournament he made it comfortably. Cue the celebrations.

After the game, David Murdoch said: “It’s just incredible. I’ve been trying for 12 years to get an Olympic medal and now we’re going to get one, words just can’t explain. It was an incredible team display and we’re just so happy to make the gold medal game.”

Third player Greg Drummond added: “We just kept applying pressure on them. We talked about it before the game. If we could make him play pressure shots, then we’d get mistakes. We knew we’d have to be strong ourselves on our simple shots, though.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8  9 10 Total
SWE* 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 5
0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 2 6

In the other semi-final, Canada defeated China 10-6 after nine ends meaning the men’s medal games for these Winter Olympics look like this:

Friday 21 – 0830 – China v. Sweden (Bronze medal game)
Friday 21 – 1330 – Great Britain v. Canada (Gold medal game)

All times are UK.

Fantastic stuff! The last, and only, time Great Britain’s men won an Olympic curling medal was in Chamonix in 1924 when they claimed gold at the very first Winter Olympic Games.

Friday will see 90 years of hurt come to an end as David Murdoch, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow and Tom Brewster are guaranteed at least a silver medal.

To put things in perspective, here are the historical results for Team GB’s men at Winter Olympics:

1924 – Gold medal
1998 – 7th
2002 – 8th
2006 – 4th
2010 – 5th
2014 – At least silver

Wouldn’t it be great if the boys could neatly bookend those results with a gold medal? Brad Jacobs’ Canadian team stand in the way.

1330 Friday afternoon. You won’t want to be anywhere else.

For Eve Muirhead and Great Britain’s women, however, the dream has already come to an end against the Canadians.

Jennifer Jones’ Canada have not lost a game all tournament and they continued this impressive run against the GB girls on Wednesday in their women’s semi-final.

Canada took a two with the hammer in the first end aided by an unfortunate pickup for Eve and then stole a single when the Great Britain skip’s last stone rolled out of position. 3-0 down to the Canadians so early on is not a good place to be.

GB managed to take their two and get on the board before singles were exchanged making the score at the break 4-3 to Canada.

Jones’ team then went two ahead with a single before GB decided to blank the next two ends hoping to get their two by retaining the hammer. This policy was, perhaps, not the best choice as they only picked up one in the ninth leaving just one end remaining and Canada one up with the hammer.

With the last stone of the game, Jennifer Jones drew the four foot to break British hearts and take the game 6-4.

Great Britain’s Eve Muirhead was, unsurprisingly, subdued after the game: “We’re gutted. We gave it our all out there. We said at the start of the week we wanted to leave here with no regrets and we did give it 110% out there.”

“We didn’t play badly at all to lose the game, but Canada played extremely well – they played some fantastic cross-house doubles. When you leave them shots like that, nine times out of ten they are going to make it. And what a great last shot by Jen under pressure, drawing against the game is never easy.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8  9 10 Total
GBR 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 4
2 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 6

The other semi-final saw Sweden beat Switzerland 7-5 meaning that Thursday’s women’s medal games look like this:

Thursday 20 – 0830 – Great Britain v. Switzerland (Bronze medal game)
Thursday 20 – 1330 – Canada v. Sweden (Gold medal game)

All times are UK.

If Eve and the girls can pick themselves up for the Switzerland game in the morning and get that bronze medal that they deserve then Great Britain will have enjoyed its most successful Winter Olympic curling campaign ever – they have never claimed two medals in one Games.

The World Champions were clearly distraught after losing to Canada but they are tough and will be fired up against the Swiss. Nobody wants the dreaded fourth place after all.

Two more days. Two medals still available. Come on GB!

The official Olympic curling websites are here and here.

Photos are © WCF/Michael Burns 2014

Sochi – Curling Day 9 (Tuesday)

Go on. Admit it. You were celebrating like David Murdoch early this morning too…

Tuesday at the Winter Olympics may have been a quiet day with only one game taking place but Great Britain’s men made some noise of their own with a thrilling tie-breaker win against Thomas Ulsrud’s Norway.

It was a winner-takes-all match with the victors getting a place in the semi-final against Sweden and the losers facing the trip home.

With Norway having won their previous encounter in Sochi and with GB’s men ending their round-robin campaign with three straight defeats, things did not look good for David Murdoch and the boys.

What followed was the first game of these Olympics that I was truly pleased to get up at 0500 for!

A tight game in a quiet arena provided great tension and two teams who were clearly fired up and ready to fight for that semi-final place.

Singles were exchanged in the first four ends but Noway got the first breakthrough when they picked up two in the fifth to go into the break 4-2 up.

The next two ends were blanked as GB were determined to use the hammer to full effect which they finally did in the eighth. A good end was built up by GB in the ninth which forced Thomas Ulsrud to draw for a single meaning Great Britain would have hammer in the final end but 5-4 down.

The tenth end was almost a reverse of the previous one with Murdoch being left, seemingly, with a draw for one against several Norwegian counters to take it to an extra-end.

But GB’s skip had other ideas.

He spotted a big, high-risk shot that could score a two and take the game – a raise double takeout.

Now, GB’s men and women had tried a few ‘Hollywood’ shots so far in Sochi without much success so as David made his way back to the hack to play the fans, perhaps, feared the worst.

I really think you have to see the shot to do it justice – take a look here.

Brilliant stuff! Knowing that that shot could have ended their Olympic campaign that took some nerve from David. The shot of the Games so far in my opinion.

Afterwards, the Great Britain skip said: “That was Incredible. Basically we had the goal to get to the semi-final and we’re there. The guys played absolutely fantastic. The standard of that game was just incredible, you miss one shot and you practically lose the game.”

“We’ve played those guys a hundred times and your chances of stealing a point in an extra end are quite slim. It’s very rare you get a steal against those guys. As hard as the shot was, we had to go for it. There was no margin for error.”

“That’ll go up there as one of my best shots. It’s not often you get that opportunity; you just have to go for it. It’s part of the game, you just have to trust everything you’ve done previously, all your practice shots and how you’ve been playing all week. We had the courage to go for it.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8  9 10 Total
NOR* 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 5
0 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 6

So all of this means that for the three remaining days of the Olympic curling tournament, both of Great Britain’s teams are going to feature.

This is the first time in Olympic curling history that Great Britain has got its men’s and women’s teams through to the playoffs in the same tournament – a fantastic achievement.

Here’s how the rest of the Sochi schedule looks:

Wednesday – 1000 – Canada v. Great Britain (Women’s semi-final)
Wednesday – 1500 – Sweden v. Great Britain (Men’s semi-final)

The other semi-finals are Sweden v. Switzerland (W) and Canada v. China (M).

All times are UK.

Thursday is women’s medal day and Friday is men’s medal day – which medals will Great Britain be going for?

No more 0500 starts. Both teams still going for medals. I’d say things are going pretty well.

The BBC is the place to be to follow GB’s progress as they go for gold.

The official Olympic curling websites are here and here.

Photo is © WCF/Richard Gray 2014

Curl Coach Competition Winner

You may remember that I recently ran a competition on the blog to win a copy of Curl Coach, the latest app for curling coaches.

I had 19 entries from all over the world – New Zealand, Canada, Scotland and the USA to name a few.

The winner was Ole Olmanson from St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Ole is a member of St. Paul Curling Club, the largest in the USA, and he is also President of a curling brush company called Hogline Brooms.

Many congratulations to Ole, thanks to everyone who entered and special thanks to Stephen Orr the app developer for offering the prize.

If you are interested in the app then take a look here at the official website.

Image is © Stephen Orr

Sochi – Curling Day 8 (Monday)

Monday was the last day of round-robin play at the Winter Olympics and it was a successful one for Eve Muirhead (above) and her Great Britain women’s team – they are through to the playoffs.

They started the day with a game against host-nation Russia who are skipped by Anna Sidorova.

This game saw points exchanged evenly until the decisive eighth end when Great Britain picked up a four after good clearout work from Anna Sloan followed by a tap-out from Eve on a Russian stone to take a 7-3 lead.

The Russians, however, were not going to lie down easily and they scored a three in the next end leaving Great Britain one up with hammer in the last – they took their two and the game.

When she came off the ice, Muirhead said: “We’re really pleased with that, we played well. It was always going to be a tough game against Russia, they’re one of our big European rivals. We had a bit of a turning point in the eighth end getting that four, but it was always going to be a game of patience and that was exactly what we did.”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8  9 10 Total
RUS 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 6
0 1 0 2 0 0 0 4 0 2 9

Women’s Draw 11 results:

Russia 6-9 Great Britain
Korea 11-2 USA
Japan 8-5 China

The girls’ second game of the day, and final round-robin encounter, came against Lene Nielsen’s Denmark – a team who had not performed at their best in these Olympics.

For Great Britain this game could be summed up as having a bad start, a good middle and a terrible ending.

With hammer in the first, GB conspired to give the Danes two points before stealing a two of their own in the fourth to go 3-2 up. A three in the seventh followed by a single steal looked to have won the game for GB but the Danes were having none of it.

7-4 down going into the tenth end, nobody would have given Denmark a chance yet they managed to score a three and tie the game up. As if that wasn’t slack enough, they then stole in the extra-end to win – a very poor finish to the game from Team GB’s women.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8  9 10
11    Total
DEN 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 3 1        8
0 0 1 2 0 0 3 1 0  0 0        7

Women’s Draw 12 results:

China 6-10 Switzerland
Denmark 8-7 Great Britain (EE)
Canada 9-4 Korea
Sweden 8-4 Japan

Final Women’s Round-Robin Standings (W-L)
1. Canada 9-0
2. Sweden 7-2
3. Switzerland 5-4
4. Great Britain 5-4
5. Japan 4-5
6. Denmark 4-5
7. China 4-5
8. Korea 3-6
9. Russia 3-6
10. USA 1-8

No tie-breakers are needed which makes life much easier.

The Winter Olympics do not use the Page playoff system to which we are accustomed in international curling. Instead, the top four teams after the round-robin play semi-finals (1v4 and 2v3) with the winners going to the gold medal game and the losers to the bronze.

So on Wednesday at 1000 UK time Canada play Great Britain and Sweden play Switzerland.

Canada have become the first women’s team in Olympic history to go through a round-robin campaign undefeated.

If Great Britain can get past Canada on Wednesday then a place in the gold medal game awaits – whatever happens now their worst finish can be fourth.

Great Britain’s men, however, are going to have to do things the hard way.

Their final round-robin game against Rui Liu’s China was always going to be significant as was the Norwegians game against Denmark.

If both GB and Norway suffered the same fate in their final games, win or lose, then they would face each other in a tie-breaker but if one could better the other team’s result then no tie-breakers would be necessary.

As it happened, both teams lost and we have been rewarded with an early morning tie-breaker on Tuesday.

The game against China was a tight affair. An early steal gave GB the lead but this did not last long and when China stole themselves in the eighth the advantage swung their way. Great Britain did well to take their two in the ninth but this meant China retained hammer in the last and they duly scored a single to win the game.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8  9 10 Total
CHN* 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 1 0 1 6
0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 5

Men’s Draw 12 results:

China 6-5 Great Britain
Germany 7-8 Russia
Switzerland 6-3 USA
Norway 3-5 Denmark

Final Men’s Round-Robin Standings (W-L)
1. Sweden 8-1
2. Canada 7-2
3. China 7-2
4. Norway 5-4, Great Britain 5-4
6. Denmark 4-5
7. Russia 3-6
8. Switzerland 3-6
9. USA 2-7
10. Germany 1-8

So, like on Sunday, Great Britain’s men will play Thomas Ulsrud’s Norway at 0500 but this time, a place in the semi-finals against Sweden at 1500 on Wednesday is up for grabs.

If David Murdoch and the boys lose then their Olympics will be over.

Canada play China in the other semi-final.

With four days of play remaining, Great Britain could still get a medal in both the men’s and women’s events.

The big end award for Monday went to Great Britain’s women and Korea’s women who both scored fours.

The official websites are here and here.

Photos are © WCF/Michael Burns 2014