Thursday, 6 February 2014

Christmas time and January goings on!

Braehead training day December 27th

After the team had digested our Christmas dinners and recovered from our lemonade induced headaches we travelled to Braehead for a British Curling training weekend ahead of the Scottish Men's qualifiers. The day consisted of a training session and two games of curling. Hannah Fleming and team were dispatched as were Kyle Smith's team in an adapted skins game. To round off the day we had are knuckles wrapped by the coaches due to our antics at Kinross, we are very sorry to anybody we have offended and let down.

Hew Chalmers December 28th-29th

The team was joined in Stranraer for the annual social event by many other curling friends. We managed to enter 5 variations of mixed teams that were split into 2 sections of 4 (this is a drastic decline in team numbers for this great event, please help Gail Munro and support the event in the coming years). In a stroke of drunken luck/team fixing Billy and Jay were drawn in a team in the same section as Grant and Hammy. To cut a long story short Jay and Billy progressed and the McMillan due did not!! As usual Chowden won the event along with Jay and Billy's team winning the fancy dress, sportsmanship and quiz prizes - thanks Andy and Abi.

Perth Masters January 2nd-5th

We moved into 'Championship Month' in January and started at the Curling Champions tour flagship event - the Perth Mercure Masters. This was our first tournament of our 5 weekends in a row of curling, our travels included; Perth, Glasgow, Dumfries, Hamburg and Aberdeen. But back to Perth for now. We progressed through the A road at the expense of Freiburger, Eriksson and Kyle Smith before beating Dave Edwards in the A final. The first three teams we defeated all competed at The World Universities finishing 5th,1st and 2nd respectively. It would of been nice to play that competition! Moving on into Sunday we were drawn to face Kyle Smith and team again after they defeated American Olympic hopefuls Team Schuster. On this occasion Kyle got his revenge largely due to their top end not missing much. Perhaps my last snidey remark is now null and void. Losing in the quarters wasn't the finish that we wanted but we can take a lot of positives away from coming through the A road at such a tough event. Another plus was the quality of the ice conditions, here's hoping Paul and his team can maintain the surface for Scottish Finals week.

Braehead - Men's Qualifying Round 1 January 11th-12th 

We were drawn in section A along with 7 other teams which 4 qualified from. We opened up the event against our good friends team Fraser. The game was nip and tuck until we managed to steal 2 in the 5th. From that point we kept things clear and ran them out of stones in the 10th. Our second game was against Duncan Gracie after a slow start we were able to assert our dominance and run away with the win in 8 ends. Our final game of the weekend saw us line up against our turncoat coach Alan playing 2nd for David Mundell. The game was closely fought with many stones in play but 2 big scores of 3 gave us breathing space and we won 8-4 in 9 ends. 3-0 left us tied top of the section with qualification looking good.

Dumfries - Men's Qualifying Round 2 January 17th-19th

The Friday of Dumfries was looking like it could've been a squeaky bum moment but luckily Billy and Grant got through their exams quickly and race down the road in plenty of time for first practise at 5pm. We were playing Alan Manuel and perhaps the rushing around and exam stress had an affect on the team early on as we were quickly chasing the game. At half time we received a pep talk from Robin that spurred us on (these were a constant feature of our weekend). We picked up a 4 in the 6th and a 3 in the 8th which killed the game, 9-6 victory. On Saturday we played Moray Combe and again started slowly losing a 3 in the 1st we battled to 3-6 after 5 before the inspirational Robin stepped in again. Somehow we were off the ice after 9 ends winning 12-7. Robin was later approached by David Moyes to give a talk to his faltering team, as an avid Liverpool fan Robin respectfully declined. Now with a 5-0 record we were guaranteed our spot at finals. In the evening game our performance showed this as we put together a very slack performance and were comfortably beaten by Warwick Smith. We were bad, they were good - that is as much detail as i wish to divulge. In our last game we had to play as our scoreline against Ross McCleary affected 3 teams. As it turned out we beat Ross on a very poor sheet of ice. This result meant Warwick and Moray's game was meaningless as both had no qualified for finals at Ross's expense. Blair Fraser was the other qualifier from our group. Find all of the qualifying results and a list of successful teams here - Qualifying. Finals here we come!

Hamburg German Masters January 24th-26th

Our journey to Hamburg began with a horrible 4:45am alarm call and a ridiculously late and boring taxi driver - i wish to see neither of them again. We caught our flight to Heathrow easy enough and treeated ourselves to a traditional breakfast for 8am (details below)
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Hammy- continental breakfast, Billy - chicken burger, Jay - club sandwich, Grant - chicken tikka
 We arrived safely in an extremely cold Hamburg and went straight for a practise. Initially ice was slowish, swingy and with the stones looking good. Friday's day saw us play Pfister the Eriksson, we played solid in both and won them fairly comfortably. On Saturday we played Tselousov, they came out firing and controlled the game for the most part. Somehow we clung on and were 1 up down the last without, he missed the hit and stick for the extra and we won! On Saturday night we faced up against Svensgaard of Denmark we played well but were caught out by; 'a shite stone' (Jay's words), a shelf on the ice that hugely affected Grant's number 8 on 2 occasions costing us a total of 5 shots and an extremely flukey draw in-wick to freeze against 4 from Torkil. Somehow we lost the game and finished the group 2nd to Svensgaard. They were rewarded with a quarter final against Baumann of Germany and we drew the reigning Swiss and European champions team Michel - great. Against Sven we started extremely well and bossed the game for the majority but they stuck with us displaying why they have achieved what they have. In the later stages they got the better of us and ran us out of stones in the 8th. Losing in the quarters means it is very unlikely we will get to take part in the tour finals in St Gallen. Here are the final standings on tour...

MICHEL SvenAdelboden R+B
GRAY LoganThe Peak
EDIN Niklas
GUSHUE BradBally Haly Golf and Curling Club
WERTHEMANN BernhardBern Zähringer
MURDOCH DavidCurl Aberdeen
PFISTER MarcBern Heliomalt
HARDIE GrantCrocketford Curling Club
Fingers crossed we receive an invite for our efforts.

Petrofac Aberdeen City Open January 31st-February2nd

After not initially due to play in Aberdeen we decided to play it in order to finish 3rd in the Scottish curling tour. Grant would be missing for our first two games of the schenkel event so landlord for the weekend and all round good guy Andy Mac was drafted in to help us. Andy is renowned for his perfect technique and his second to none tactical prowess. His job was to throw lead and take the head for Jay's stones, both specialist skills.

Andy's reaction to his call up
In our first game we won a tightly fought encounter against Korolenko. A close win meant we avoided the heavyweights in the section, Andy's knowledge of a schenkel format was rubbing off. In the evening game we saw off Angus Robertson. It was again a struggle but our 5th man's calming influenced meant the team was able to come through again. On Saturday morning Andy took up his coaching role and Grant once again took the reigns of the team. Perhaps Andy should've stayed on the ice because the Korean ladies Olympic gave us a good spanking. The scoreline read 5-3, it should of been much more. These results left us 2-1 overall meaning we would qualify providing we won our last game. We played against some familiar guys in team Hutcheon and managed to put together a good performance to qualify in 3rd place in the 10 team schenkel. However due to an injury scare Andy was once again required to fill in, this time for Billy who left the ice early to protect his crumbling knee for Sunday's playoffs and next week's Scottish finals. Saturday evening the only place to be was back at Curl Aberdeen for the now infamous Petrofac City Open race night hosted by the legendary Albert Middler. Jay lost in a 5 man game of shit head meaning he would 'ride' the teams horse throughout the night. For the dinner we were sat with the self proclaimed 'team punter' of ladies curling team Barr. Their banter was as usual sub standard but we managed to get through the night largely due to free wine and a large team kitty. Somehow Jay got through his heat but failed miserably in the final losing to Scott Macleod, who knows how Scott is so good at the racing, perhaps he has too much time on his hands. Moving into Sunday we played Michael Opel of England in the quarters in truth we played well but couldn't get our noses in front, our opposing skip also played very well. We needed a 2 down the last for an extra, we set up a very good end and when coupled with a tactical error from our opponents we secured a 3 for the win. Into the semis we went to play against the punters. They had just beat Dave Edwards and in doing so handed the Scottish tour to Ross Mcleary. The effects of their night out was apparent as we found ourselves 4-0 after 2 ends we hit for home successfully winning 5-3. We faced up against Ross McCleary he had already won the tour we were confirmed 3rd so it was just the title up for grabs, they may also have wanted revenge for the Scottish qualifiers. The game was a good one with alot of shots being made with a lot of stones in play through out. However we managed to stay in control and won with a 6-4 scoreline. Champions for the 2nd time this season!!

The victorious 5 man team
Check out the final standings for this season's Scottish Goldline Tour...

Leaderboard 13/14

1st Prize - The Galbraith Trophy and £2,000.
2nd Prize - £1,000.
3rd Prize - £500.

57pts Ross McCleary
52pts David Edwards
49pts Grant Hardie
35pts Martin Lill
30pts Kyle Smith
25pts Frazer Hare
24pts Kerry Barr
18pts Ewan MacDonald
18pts Cameron Bryce
18pts Blair Fraser

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

December's antics

Lockerbie Superspiel; 22nd-24th of November

Lockerbie Superspiel took place at the end of November, We won our first 3 games against Graeme Black, Cameron Bryce and Graham Sheddan. with 8 out of 10 teams qualifying for the quarter finals we were safely through at this stage. 2 defeats followed however, with a sloppy game against the deadly Frazer Hare and getting edged out by a strong Team McCleary Performance. We Spend Saturday night watching the Froch Groves Fight in which glass jaw Hammy tried to pick up some tips.

Froch Groves Fight
5 late points thanks to a school boy error from Team Bryce who got the time wrong for the quarter finals allowed us an easy passage into the semi finals. For the first time this season we won a semi final, stealing a 4 in the 7th to win 8-2 against tour leaders Ross McCleary and progress to the final against Dave Edwards. We started this well and got off to a 6-1 lead and apart from a few silly mistakes towards the end of the game we closed it out 7-4 winners. 

Lockerbie Superspiel Winners 2013

Training Weekend; Greenacres; 7th and 8th of December

This was a lot of fun. As many will know we have a long running hatred for Team Gray and have a competition with them in which the losers buy Christmas dinner for the winners. We lost this last year and were desperate to avoid a repeat. So after they beat us in Edinburgh we went in to this weekend 2-1 behind with 2 challenges to go. The first a 8 end game which we were good and they were very bad. This tied the challenge going into a head to head hot shots competition. Close to boiling over fighting for every point available we 'made a ton of shots' and will enjoy our Christmas dinner on Team Gray this year.

The  New Zealand game was a close one, with time running out for the guys to get to Edinburgh we stole the 6th to go peels and handshakes were offered. A friendly game finished with us offering out support for their Olympic qualification. Sadly they missed out.

Kinross Open; 13th-15th of December

We headed off to Kinross knowing a win and some favourable results would help us near the top of the Scottish Goldline Tour. We breezed through our group so decided to reward ourselves by enjoying the quiz and our fellow teams company. Bad idea. Things escalated and some locals took a dislike to Hammy's pulling methods. Hammy recovered fully and we managed to make the final but lost to our season long foe David Edwards in a one sided affair that's 2-1 for the season to team Edwards!  

Monday, 18 November 2013

Edinburgh International

The Edinburgh International was the 4th stop of this season European Champions Tour. The event was built up of a strong Scottish contingent and some foreign teams looking to pick up more points in the tour.

Its fair to say the Edinburgh surroundings were not as nice to look at compared to Champery however the level of our accommodation was the same. Thanks go out to Grant's wife Row Row for hooking us up with the digs and Great Base apartments. After a team practise on the Thursday night and a good night sleep we set of with little fuss on Friday morning....

Hammy's car is as reliable as his peeling!!
 After a quick sprint for a taxi we made it to the ice rink and were able to start. In our first game we played the Swiss Pfister team. The game wasn't played to the best of standard but Grant made some timely hits and a good double in the 8th secured a nice 5-4 victory. In our 2nd game we had an improved team performance and managed to beat Kauste of Finland 5-4 with Grant not needing to throw his last in the 8th. Our tough start reached it's climax when we played our best enemies, Team Gray. This would prove to be the latest leg of our personal contest that will ultimately end in the losing team buying the other Christmas dinner. We played a good solid first four ends but could not take the chances that we created so the scores were tied at 2-2. As a team we played a poor 5th end and lost a 3. From there on Logan and team kept it clean and limited our chances. The score ended 6-3 but we felt that we had let one slip. The first game was always going to be tough so a 2-1 record wasn't a disaster.

Boobsy gracious as ever
Qualification remained in our hands, if we won our final games we would make the quarter finals. Simple? No! We took to the ice against Ezsol of Hungary we were terrible and we lost. So onto the final game we had to win against John Hamilton. The score line portrays a close game however we were always in control and got the victory which resulted in our qualification. We celebrated as we always do, with food and lots of it.

We struggled to finish it off
Our Quarter final opponent was Rantamaki. It was our first meeting with this Finnish side. We had to play a patient game blanking the first 3 ends and even after losing a 2 in the 4th we felt in control of the match. Our patience was rewarded with a 3 in the 5th, we then forced in 6 and held the hammer coming home at peels. We did enough and came away with the win.

Into our 3rd semi final of the season and sadly it was a familiar story. We faced up against Team Edwards we played a good game but again did not take our chances whereas the Edwards rink did. The score line read 5-1 and that just about tells the story. Onwards and upwards from here.

This is how we stand in the European Rankings. We have made 2 semis in 3 outings out of a possible 4 events to date. Our position is rather confusing but it is because the European Tour are also using results from Canadian events. Go figure!

Our next team event will take place this weekend in Lockerbie at the next stage of the Goldline Scottish Curling Tour in Lockerbie. We have only played 2 events on the tour this year so we have a lot of work to do in order to challenge for the title Leaderboard.

Over and Out!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Curling Masters Champery

The team flew off to Champery after a wake up call. In the 4 days between the Stirling Invitational and our flight to Geneva the team put in some much needed practice after the shambles of the previous weekend. The view prior to landing was just a taste of things to come...

We touched down in Geneva with an hour bus journey still to go. Our bus was driven by a man who can only be described as Switzerland's version of Dick Dastardly. I do not wish to travel on the edge of a mountain at that speed again! To anybody that hasn't stayed in Champery I would recommend it. It's rather nice to look at. Plus the accommodation is also rather 'comfortable', take a look at our chalet.

Team cooking was also a nice touch because when I say team i mean Hammy taking control and doing what he does best. The food throughout was DECENT!!!

 So enough about the scenery and accommodation, we were here to curl. Our group was ridiculously tough it consisted of; Attinger, Hess and Haesler of Switzerland, defending champions Hasselborg of Sweden and Walstad of Norway. For the second time this season we started a European tour event with 3 group games in a day. We always have a sloppy game during an event so in order to give our confidence a further knock we somehow orchestrated it to be our first game. The team struggled to put anything together on the fast straight ice and despite our skip keeping us in a game that we didn't deserve to win we were eventually beaten by Attinger in an extra. We only had a short time to regroup and eat however Billy was eager to put his message across.

If you want to eat, you better improve
Improve we did! The game was cagey against last years winners Hasselborg as we searched for confidence and ice conditions. We traded one's until a decisive steal in the 6th to go 4-2 up. Another force in 7 meant we had hammer and the lead in the 8th. We played a good end and just to seal it Grant decided on making a half stone double rather than a nose hit to win the game. Admittedly he decided after he released the stone but a win is a win.

Our final game of the day matched us against the experienced and tough Pascal Hess. We came out firing, we clocked the stones straight away, we got our weight straight away and we played well. We managed a 4 in the 2nd end and were able to cling on to our lead. After scoring in the 6th to move 6-2 handshakes were offered. We ended a day that had started badly with a 2-1 record and confidence was beginning to return.

After a good sleep we took to the ice on Saturday. First up was Haesler a past Swiss champion. In another good performance we beat them 6-4 largely due to a good second half performance. This win meant we were almost through but another win would guarantee us topping the group.

Our final game of the group was against Walstad of Norway. We came out the blocks extremely quickly and had the game rapped up in 3 ends after stealing a big 4 in the 3rd end. Job done qualification secured early, time for some R&R. Our relaxation this weekend was rather different than usual as our kind Swiss hosts had left us some toys...

Toys for the boys
Our Quarter final on Sunday morning was a good solid game from the team. We lined up against David Sik's Czech team. After topping our section we were awarded with hammer. We scored 1 in the first and from that point on played  very well. We managed to force 1's in ends 2 and 4 but crucially with hammer in the odd ends scored a 3 and a 5 to win the game comfortably 9-2 after 5 ends.

In the semi final we ran into the in form Canadian team, Team Grattan. They were undefeated for the week and sadly for us they remained that way. We were also playing on the live stream which had not been kind to us in the past. Three televised games previously had resulted in defeats and a 4th soon followed. We really struggled with a bad set of stones on ice that had all of a sudden changed from the previous games. We chased the game as long as we could but lost a nasty 4 in the 6th to down us 9-3.

All in all we can take a lot of positives from the week. We visited an awesome place. We gained some confidence. We won some money and we climbed the European tour and World Tour standings.

Congratulations to Team Grattan on the win and well done to our Scottish counterparts, both Logan Gray and Kyle Smith on making the quarterfinals.

Stay tuned on both Facebook and Twitter for our Progress next week at the Edinburgh International

Thanks for the memories Switzerland...

Stirling Report

Not really got round to blogging  about our Stirling exploits. The fact that this blog is over a week late should prepare you for what you are about to read, its not pretty.

The Stirling Invitational took on a new format this year in the form of a reduced triple knock-out format comprising of 16 teams. In the past we have performed well at this event winning the inaugural event and losing the final last year, so we went in with high hopes.

Our first game saw us up against the 'experienced' Ken Horton line up that have clocked up more years of curling experience than we have had hot dinners. However we started strongly and ran out comfortable winners, 8-2 after 7 ends.

We moved into the A road semi and this is where our troubles started. We were up against Ewan MacDonald's new line-up. Over the years we have had some good tussles with Ewan. In a close game we were out played by not mastering the ice and stones. We were deservedly beaten in the last after they stole the 8th.

So into the B road, we were up against the newly announced British Olympic team. Our record against the 5 man team is very good so we went into it with a lot of confidence. We started slowly not mastering the ice conditions and were chasing the game early. We couldn't come back and were off early.

C road; last chance saloon, play off games from here, win or go home. We went home!! We started poorly against a much improved Welsh performance than we played in Dumfries. They out played us, we made more mistakes and we lost.

Congratulations to Frazer Hare's new team as they defeated a very good field in a good Sunday run to win the competition. After our embarrassing performance we spent every day training and reviewing our Stirling performance before our flight to Champery, stay tuned to hear how we got on their...

Au revoir mon ami

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Swiss Cup Basel

Just getting around to posting about our time in Basel, as you can probably tell with the time elapsed from the event it did not go well.

We went into the event full of confidence after a good week practising together. Our problems started the day before we flew out. DJ hamz (aka Hammy) decided that flying without a passport is easily doable when travelling to Switzerland. After a wait at check-in coach Smithers arrived with said passport. Problems over? think again! After a short flight from Edinburgh to Heathrow, a slight wait in BA's terminal 5 we jetted off to Basel. Upon arrival we collected our bags and headed off to the hotel, well not quite. Billy's (large, ugly and difficult to forget) bag was misplaced by the baggage handlers. Just one persons clothes missing, no-biggy you might say? Wrong, Grant had decided to bring just hand luggage meaning he had stuffed his toiletries and team jackets in Billy's bag, Not an ideal start to our preparations. Don't worry the bag turned up 2 days after we arrived back in Scotland.

Moving on to the curling, on Friday thanks to a kind draw we had 3 group games in one day. We kicked off early in the morning against Kampf of Germany we played well and controlled the game comfortably running out 7-1 winners in 5 ends. Our 2nd game saw us up against team De Cruz from Geneva. The game was played to a very high standard and saw us 3-2 up coming down the last. The end was a strange one but in the end we somehow forced 1 and peeled 3-3. Due to a curios ruling in the groups peels were not allowed and extra ends seemed too long to complete. Instead the teams had to face off in a team draw shot with the best 3 of 4 counting. Our best 3 draws consisted of 2 biting the button and 1 covering the pin, we lost by some 8 centimetres!! After getting over our defeat and using our break to sleep we got set to take on the Russian outfit Arkipov. We headed down to the 3 down stairs rinks where our record is not good. It didn't improve. We were slack, tired, grumpy and rubbish - we lost 5-2. Off to bed to reflect on a poor day.

On Saturday we knew we had a slim chance of qualifying if we won our game and pinned the draw shot then pray for our average draw shot to sneak us through. In our last game we faced up against Neuenschwander (or N14 for Billy) of Switzerland. We started aggressively and would of been out of sight had our opposing skip not been possessed by a curling demon. After battling through we recorded a 5-3 win with Grant not needing to throw his last 2 stones in the 8th. Our progression now hung in the balance with our draw shot. Due to their being 40 teams playing in 8 sections of 5. The top 16 teams were ranked on games won and then down to draw shot thereafter. Finishing on 2-2 we knew our progression was unlikely. In the end we were eliminated after finishing with a ranking of 17th.

All in all Basel was an experience, we will learn from it and build for Stirling Invitational.

See you there...

Monday, 23 September 2013

Sulwarth Open - Dumfries

Our first competition of the season has now passed. We were curling this past weekend (Sep 20-22) at the Dumfries Ice Bowl and in the newly sponsored Sulwath Open. The Competition was a revised 2 group shenkel format with 6 teams in each due to some late call offs.

We started the group stages on Friday with an impressive 13-0 victory over the Welsh team Plougher. We played extremely well and crucially scored all 8 ends. Our second game saw us face off against team Gracie or more commonly known as Curloneout. After a little bit of fun on a social media site we were all set to play. Another very strong performance saw us record our second consecutive 13-0 victory and another 8 ends achieved. Curloneout will return for revenge I would imagine and I won't be surprised if we appear on their blog.

Day 2, we played team Sheddon. We recorded another solid win with another good performance. We were unable to keep our consecutive ends winning streak intact. We won the game 8-3 and guaranteed ourselves top of the group with a game to spare. Our record ended at 19 straight ends won before Graeme Sheddon covered the pin in the 4th end - not sure if its a record but a nice start to the season. Our final game of the group stages was against the newly formed team Hare line-up. To cut a long story short we played poorly and came off worse in a flat 8-5 defeat.

Here are the standings after the group stage - Group 1

By topping the group we faced off against team Bryce. They are a young up and coming junior team with a lot of potential. We started a little slow but came on strong and ran out comfortable 7-3 winners after 7 ends.

This victory meant we had qualified for the semi-finals to play team Smith. The game was played to a high standard and both teams had their chances. We controlled the score board well and were 1 up without playing the 8th end. A very well constructed end meant Kyle needed a hit and stick to force the extra end. He made it and into the extra we went. They set up a good end but we cleared it well. The game came down to Grant's last stone, a draw to bite the button. Unfortunately he was a little heavy and slipped beyond the button.

Our tournament was over but we can take a lot of positives from it. We will be back training hard before our next competition, Swiss Cup Basel

Auf Wiedersehen!