Sunday, December 13, 2009

That's it folks!

The final games of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships have been played, the medals awarded, and the teams head home, some well satisfied with the week, some to think again. I hope all have enjoyed their time in Aberdeen.

I have. It was great being involved. I am knocked out by the hard work of the ice teams at the Linx and at Curl Aberdeen - and the long hours they put in! The umpires too were on station long before the first stone had been played each day, until after the late evening practices. I saw too how hard many of the volunteers worked. Some are still at it, making sure the players get to the airport on time.

I myself learned much from watching the (extremely industrious) media, including all involved in bring you pictures on TV and computer. The local papers did the event proud with their coverage. I enjoyed studying the professional photographers at work, whilst trying not to be envious of the kit they were packing around!

Search parties have gone out to try to find some of those who attended the final banquet and party at the Star Ballroom last night. If I just reveal that not all have made it back yet, then you will realise it was a good night! The venue, the meal, Pryde, a great ceilidh band Galik Bred, colourful and enthusiastic participants, many of whom willing to create carnage on the dance floor as they learned a variety of Scottish dances, and the odd drink or two - all contributed to a great party!

The blog has no pictures to share with the world (well, just one). I'm not going to embarrass anyone today! There were some sights, I can tell you. Some teams' 'party uniforms' were outstanding - the Netherlands men made quite an entrance. The women's teams weren't half bad either! The Scottish girls brush up really well - as you can see from the pic below!

Talented girl she is, Scotland's skip Eve Muirhead was on the stage during the evening, for a short rendition with her pipes. And that went down very well.

That's it for this blog. I may have a few more photos once I go through everything when I get home. These will be on my other blog(s). If you want to follow more of Scottish curling (and perhaps even an update on how Coo is getting on), this link is where to go:
Normal service will be resumed there soon.

Aberdeen, thanks for the memories! And thanks to everyone who made the week fun for me - too many to name, but you all know who you are.

More winners

Latvia, with B Division trophy and medals!

Netherlands with their trophy and medals!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Coo's gone

Coo's gone. The story is this. Among the many friends she made this week was the men's team from Greece. Skip Nikolaos Zacharias has a little five year old little girl back in Germany, called Fotini.

Fotini has offered Coo a good home and a chance to explore the world as he (and she) grow old.

I wish Coo and Fotini every happiness in the years ahead. But it will be a lonely trip home to Skip for me!

But she did leave me a wee pressie!

Sweden win Euro Championship

Sweden are the champions! A close game - Sweden one ahead in the ninth end. Nikas Edin has to make a hit on the nose in the extra end for the win. He does!

The linescore and stats are here.

Niklas Edin

Markus Eggler skips the Swiss team and plays second stones.

Ralph Stockli throws last stones for the Swiss

Sebastian Kraupp delivers with Viktor Kjall and fredrik Lindberg ready to sweep.

More photos to come.

Men's final underway

We're into the third end. Niklas Edin's Swedes have already counted a big three end against the Swiss. Follow the linescore here.

Germany Champions of Europe

Andrea Schopp's German team are the Champions of Europe with a 7-5 defeat of Switzerland in the final of the woman's Le Gruyere European Curling Championship at Aberdeen's Linx arena. Find the linescore and stats here.

L-R: Rainer Schopp (coach), Andrea Schopp, Monika Wagner, Melanie Robillard, Corinna Scholz and Stella Heiss (alternate)

Good shot!

Andrea Schopp and Mirjam Ott

Mirjam Ott and Andrea Schopp

It was a really close measure for umpire Maria Davidsson! Yellow was awarded the shot - a steal for Switzerland which tied the game 5-5 in the seventh end.

More photos to come

Triumph for Latvia

Latvia's Iveta Stasa-Sarsune (above) skipped her team of Una Grava-Germane, Ieva Krusta and Zanda Bikse to a second win over Finland this morning in the World Challenge, and there will be a Latvian team at the Ford World Women's Championship in Swift Current in March!

Denmark successfully defended their place in the men's world event by defeating challenging Netherlands in straight games.

Women's final underway

The final is underway. Andrea Schopp's Germans and Mirjam Ott's Swiss, the holders, stepped on to the ice at 10.00 this morning to contest the women's final of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Aberdeen's Linx arena.

Coo's goodbye

Coo has had a great week at the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Aberdeen. It has been a life changing experience for her. She's come to a decision. She's leaving me.

I don't know if I mentioned but Coo's an orphan. She's been in touch with her auntie (above) for advice, and she's been told to follow her heart and travel the world, if that's what she wants to do.

But the big question is where to go? She's had some fantastic offers. The curling community is so kind.

Should she go to Stranraer, where she's made friends with Robyn Munro?

Or to Hungary with Boglarka (Boggy) Adam? Or to Latvia with her favourite team?

This morning the blog received the following letter, from an admirer, above:

Dear Sir, I was absolutely horrified to hear the words kn.....s y..d' used in relation to the beautiful, talented Coo. Over the last few days I have quite fallen for Coo and wondered if she would like to spend her retirement with me? I live in St. Andrews but will be going to Wengen to help the curlers there plan their centenary celebrations in 2011 and Coo's media expertise would be invaluable. There will also be celebrations in Perth so she would be able to meet her Scottish fans.

I appreciate that many will be interested in the future of Coo, but hopefully my attached photo will show you (and her) what a suitable companion I would be. I would obviously be willing to pay Coo's travel (first class of course) and escort her on her journeys.

Please advise me if their are any contractual problems - as I am more than willing to negotiate. I do hope you and Coo will consider this proposal; I promise to look after and cherish her.

Yours hopefully, Angus B.

Coo thanks Angus very much, and is very touched. Also to those who signed the petition of support. She definitely won't be going to the knackers yard, and her future looks bright indeed!

I'll let you know when she makes up her mind!

Morning Call: Saturday, December 12

Here's the man! George Esson is the chairman of the local organising committee for the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Aberdeen. I caught him in the photo above managing to find a few minutes of 'me time' actually watching some of the play! (I was going to make it a caption competition, but perhaps not!)

Last day today, of course. The women's final (Switzerland v Germany) begins at 10.00, and the men's final (Sweden v Switzerland) is at 13.30. The world challenge games between Latvia and Finland, and Denmark and the Netherlands continue too. Early morning starts for these.

A huge amount of work has gone into the preparations and running of the event, and George has been the general in charge. Here he is at one of many meetings this week, with Rita Esson and Rhona Thom. Well done sir, to you and all of your team. From where I've been sitting it has been an excellent event.

Stand by for some important news about Coo later today!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Germany makes it to women's final

Denmark and Germany faced each other in the women's semifinal at the Linx Arena tonight. You will probably have been following the linescore and results here, but, to cut a long story short, it went down an extra end, just like the men's semi.

Andrea Schopp, Melanie Robillard, Monika Wagner and Corinna Scholz secured the end and the game at Andrea's last stone. Germany then will meet Switzerland in the Championship decider tomorrow morning at 10.00.

In the first rounds of the World Challenge series of matches at Curl Aberdeen, Denmark beat the Netherlands, and Latvia beat Finland.

Apologies for the lack of photographs tonight. Blogally Richard has had to retire injured - many thanks to him for his input this week, and get well soon!

On top of that, I had my own camera malfunction this afternoon. Hopefully normal service will be back tomorrow!

Swiss reach men's final

It went to the last stone of an extra end before the Swiss team of Ralph Stoeckli (fourth), Jan Hauser, Markus Eggler (skip) and Simon Struebin overcame Thomas Ulsrud's Norwegians in this afternoon's men's semifinal of the Le Gruyere European Curling Championships in Aberdeen. The Swiss now meet Niklas Edin's Sweden in the final game tomorrow!

You will know by now where to find the linescores and all the results and standings, and to look for a report on the Royal Club website here.

Down below

I've had a couple of questions about what's happening in the B Divisions, and how the World Challenge is organised. I must admit that it's not easy to get one's head around all that is going on here in Aberdeen, outwith the confines of the Linx Arena.

Let's start with the women's B Division. As I began writing this the two teams that have come to the top, Latvia and the Netherlands, were battling it out for the Division B title. Both these teams will play in the A Division at the next Euro event in Champery. The winner also gets the chance to try gain a place in this season's world championship. That team is Latvia, who pipped the Dutch at an extra end! You can get to all the linescores here.

The reason is that the European Championships double up as the qualification event for the Worlds. Think of it as the European Zone, which usually supplies eight teams, joining with two from the Pacific Zone and two from the Americas to make up the twelve that compete in the Worlds.

So Latvia now has to win a challenge series against the team that finished eighth in the A rankings after the round robin. Why the eighth? The ninth and tenth teams are not going to the worlds, and indeed are relegated to the B Divisions at next year's Europeans. Finland finished eighth in the women's round robin. Their place in Swift Current is open to challenge, and the challenge is a best of three games this evening and tomorrow, at both Curl Aberdeen and at the Linx. Are you following me?

Now, you would think the men would be the same, but this year it's not! Look at the teams at the bottom of the men's rankings. Denmark was ranked 7th, Czech Republic 8th, Finland 9th and Italy 10th, and it needed a tiebreaker to decide 8th and 9th when both countries finished on the same round robin record. For next year's Europeans, there's no problem. The Czech Republic and Italy are relegated, and their places taken by Russia and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is the B Champion, and in a normal year they would challenge the eighth placed team ie the Czech Republic. But this is not a 'normal' year. Italy is the host of the upcoming World Championships in Cortina, and the host gets an automatic place at the world event. So there are this year just seven teams going forward to the worlds from the Aberdeen 'qualifier'. The bottom ranked of these is the team that finished in seventh place after the round robin, Denmark, and so this year the Danes have to face the challenge. It does seem somewhat odd, but that's the way that it has been agreed in the rules. These can be found within the WCF Rulebook which can be downloaded from here.

Promotion for Latvia and the Netherlands

Mark Neeleman skipped his country into the top ten at next year's European Championship when the Netherlands beat Hungary in the B Division semifinal this morning.

That's Hungarian skip Lajos Belleli encouraging his team.

Gabor Riesz plays last stones for the Hungarian side.

The Netherlands team now meet Russia in the B Division final, the winner having the right to challenge Denmark for the last available place in the Capital One World Championship in Cortina, April 3-11, 2010.

Iveta Stasa-Sarsune skipped her Latvian team to a last stone victory over Austria.

It was a hard fought game, and of course disappointment for Karina Toth and her team, after back to back losses to Netherlands and Latvia this morning.

Here Ieva Krusta calls line on Iveta's stone.

The Latvian girls will now play Shari Leibbbrandt-Demmon for the B Division title, and the chance to play for a world championship place, at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship, March 20-28, 2010, Swift Current, Canada.

(PS Coo is ecstatic!)