Bill Gray (Fourth, Skip)
Neil Fyfe (Third, Vice-Skip)
David Whyte (Second)
David Hume (Lead)
Day 2 dawned with the knowledge that today’s games would be pivotal in our campaign and we needed to be at out best to come through the day with two wins. A 1200 start time and first practice for the game against Latvia was the order of the day with Bill and Neil rostered in for the two stone DSC. First use of the ice is always tricky and when the skippers draw shot pulled up ( just) at the back of the house, it needed Neil to salvage the situation with his draw – and he duly obliged. The Latvians however had the hammer after their DSC.
The game proved to be a nervy affair with both teams feeling a bit of pressure. We played the first half of the game well limiting the Latvians to a single in the second and picking up a three in the 4th with Bill playing a great angled raise at hack weight round a guard which proved to be the game changer. The second half was nervy with some mistakes – mostly due to the ice keening up dramatically- from both sides although David H and Neil adjusted more quickly than Bill and David W and held the show on the road. We came to the last 1 up with the hammer. The front end and Neil did a great job clearing the guards and when Bill played a good clearing shot on two stones in the house, a failed freeze by the Latvian skip who was heavy left us with a win without having to play last stone. Phew!! All in all, a tough game for various reasons but we were delighted to come out with a win, even if it wasn’t pretty. Japan next up this evening – another big one; but then again, at this level, they all are!!
Ireland 5 Latvia 3
Ansis Regza (Fourth, Skip)
Peteris Sveisbergs (Third, Vice-Skip)
Aivars Purmalis (Second)
Aivars Gulbis (Lead)
Ivars Cernajs (Alternate)
Two games and two wins for Ireland’s senior champs at the worlds.
A three in the fourth end was the difference between the teams and, no doubt, we will hear more detail from Bill in due course.
Next up Japan at 8pm (6pm Russia time). Well done and good luck to Bill, Neil and the Davids.
Finally, time to reflect on a helter skelter trip to Sochi , quick practice, some sleep and then the opening game.
Our disrupted travel plans were due to a cancelled flight from Moscow to Sochi which entailed a night in the Ramada hotel in Moscow. Interesting…….that’s all to be said about that.
The following day our 10.30 flight became 11.30 by the time we got to the airport and then 12.30 by the time we actually took off! A two hour flight resulted in a late arrival but we have been looked after brilliantly by our own ‘girl ‘guide, Alina. A late practice session gave us our first taste of the arena ice – surprisingly slow and extremely swingy and we hoped it would be better for the game the next day. Hotel accommodation is good and the shuttle service put on by the Russian Federation certainly eases the movement around the area. Security is tight as always and the scanners immediately picked up David Hume’s stash of miniature Irish Whiskey – not before one had met its demise on the lobby floor in the hotel!! Food and sleep are never far from the minds of this team and fortunately there is a great buffet hall on the campus of the hotel!!
Game 1 saw us take on the might of Kazahkstan in the shape of Victor Kim and his cohorts. It was also our first taste of the new DSC rules: two stones in each Draw Shot; one clockwise and one anti clockwise. Suffice to say, the first up in our rota, DH and DW combined to give us a two stone score of only 34 cm which was the best of all of the games in that session. We started well with a 4 in the first end and that settled us into a steady game where we played to a pretty good standard running out 9-1 winners.
Boys with their board boy
The opening ceremony followed included a fantastic display from some very talented young dancers and singers and the usual first stone this time delivered by the Mayor of Sochi.
The day ended inevitably with food…but not before Bill and Neil had taken in some of the sights of the Olympic Park
The Iceberg Skating Palace: The best looking building in the park
. Some of the buildings are spectacular and the addition of the sounds of cars racing all around you on the Formula 1 track adds a certain surreal nature.
Olympic Flame Tower
That’s all folks; two games tomorrow so into battle in earnest…..
Ireland 9 Kazakhstan 1
Viktor Kim (Fourth, Skip) Almaz Saidvakassov (Third, Vice-Skip) Roman Kazimirchik (Second) Nikolay Zhorov (Lead) Iskander Farizov (Alternate)
Solid starting performance from Bill and the boys. Four at the first then singles in the second, fourth and fifth put the game in the bag. Kazakhstan got a one in the sixth but a two for Ireland in the seventh end saw handshakes offered by the opposition. Well done men!
Next Game is against Latvia on Sunday at 12 noon local time.
This article, featuring our Neil, appeared in today’s edition of The Galloway Gazette:
Hugh, Neil and Norman
Earlier this week three Stranraer curlers headed off to the World Senior Curling Championships in Sochi, Russia, to play for two different nations.
Hugh Aitken and Norman Brown will pull on the blue jersey of Scotland while Neil Fyfe will be in the green of Ireland. And to add a bit of spice to the occasion the two nations are due to play each other next Thursday morning.
Hugh and Norman have appeared for Scotland many times over the years, both were junior world champions and European champions in the 1980s and 1990s. They are both making their second appearance on the world seniors stage having competed without success in Ferdericton, Canada in 2013.
Norman said: “We were disappointed with our placing two years ago and we are really going out there to carry on with unfinished business.”
Hugh added: “And as a jeweller, my favourite colour is gold so that’s the only colour of medal I’m coming back with!”
Neil, who has represented Ireland at international level since 2006, also played in Fredericton and at the World Seniors in Dumfries last year. The police sergeant was equally bullish about his team’s chances as three of his teammates won gold in 2012.
“We got knocked out in the quarter-finals last year and we were unlucky not to win that game as we all played well. We will see how it goes in Sochi.”
With a world title at stake, all three curlers said there would be no quarter given when the two teams meet next week. Friends before and after, but not on the ice!
Also in the same section as Scotland and Ireland are Kazakhstan, Latvia, Japan, Czech Republic, Canada and Italy.
Ready to take on the world…….
Johnjo, Bill, Neil, and the two Davids are packing their broombag at this very minute prior to heading off on the long road to Sochi on Thursday morning.
All the members of the ICA wish them all the best in their quest for a second world title and another big shiny gold medal.
Their first game is against Kazakhstan on Saturday morning at 8.30am (Sochi time) which will be 6.30am back here. They then take on Latvia, Japan, Czech Republic, Canada, Italy and Scotland, who are all in the same group.
Bill will keep us updated on the website blog with scores, comments, observations and a photo or two, time allowing of course.
The draw for our Irish Mens Senior Champions at the World Championships coming up fast (18th to 25th April) in Sochi is here:
Carolyn Hibberd reports: “The ICA annual fixture against Ardrossan Castle Curling Club took place on Wednesday 1st April at the Greenacres Rink.
The Irish Ladies Team had arrived at Greenacres earlier in the day for training and were pleased to play a game together in the match.
After a shaky start the girls played a solid second half to finish a close 7-10 down to a strong Ardrossan Castle team, skipped by Frazer Erskine. Thanks to KT Kerr, Hazel Gormley-Leahy, Alison Fyfe and Ailsa Anderson.
The second match was against the “weel kent” Ardrossan Castle team skipped by Gordon Christie. The Irish four were Carolyn (lead and skip), Margarita and Alan with Arran playing last stones. This format worked pretty well for most of the time and the game was very close until the last two ends. Unfortunately the final score was a loss by 5-10.
This International is always a fun evening with the games being played in the true spirit of of bonspiel curling.
Thanks to our players for taking part and to JJ and Martin for their support of the Ladies Team and to Liz Knox also for being our cheerleader!
Once again Ardrossan Castle brought the Trophy with them and took it back again.”
One trophy going further afield was the ‘ICA Glittertree’ which was presented to our California girl Katie Kerr by Johnjo Kenny after her stunning Christmas tree won the Chistmas tree challenge for 2014. Katie also won some tasty Tayto crisps, and thanks go to Peter Wilson who brought them over with him last weekend, but they seem to have gone missing before they could be presented to her!
Johnjo presents Katie with the ICA Glittertree. But who ate all the crisps?
Arran Cameron reports:
Arran, James, Craig and John
“The Irish Men’s team reward for a good season was to return to the Silesian GP in Poland, the scene of much socialising in 2014. Unfortunately with flights and hotels booked the event was cancelled due to problems with the ice pad. Unable to obtain a berth at another European bonspiel at such a late stage we managed to secure a reserve entry to the Edinburgh International Gathering. Held on the same weekend as the Irish Mixed playdowns we had to attend Murrayfield without our super-skip JJ Kenny who was busy doing his usual at Dumfries. John Furey however did a superb skip’s job and together with team mates James Russell, Craig Whyte and Arran Cameron, we enjoyed three wins and a peel and less so two losses! We were fortunate enough to play against Swiss, Scottish, Swedish and Canadian teams and placed mid table in the mid group of 28 teams. An excellent no pressure, much socialising and enjoyable weekend was had to close the season. Will now be taking break for a few months before Coach Sutherland calls us once again to arms at the Stirling Skins in July. Happy Summer everyone!”