Stranraer Weekend glory for Pete

Another excellent ICA Stranraer Weekend came to a fitting close yesterday afternoon with victory in the high road for Peter Wilson and his team of Karlyn Lyon, David Whyte and Frances Whyte, lifting the Mourne Granite Trophy, having won all their four games in the competition, which is run on the Shenkel system.

Peter, Karlyn, Louise (presenting), Frances and David

In the final game, Peter took on PJ Wilson and his rink of Louise Kerr, Cameron Stevenson and Anne Wilson, in a tremendous tussle that kept the spectators entertained right up to the last stone of the last end when Peter drew the button to out count PJ’s two shots, to win 7-5.

Alan, Ailsa, Louise (presenting), Trish and Billy

The high road runners-up, taking away the Jane Paterson Ailsa Craig painting, on three victories and a peeled game were Alison Fyfe, Alan Roe, Trish Boult and Billy Johnston.

Jenny, Bill, Louise (presenting), Walker and Alison

In the low road, the Oak Trophy, presented by Jim and Jean Winning, was won by Bill Gray, Jenny Bain, Walter Scott and Alison Scott.

The low road runners-up were Andy Robinson, Rosemary Griffiths, Alan Griffiths and Rhona Robinson – they received the Basil Gray Memorial Trophy.

Andy, Rhona, Louise (presenting), Rosemary and Alan

The consolation prizes went to Ian Donald, Carolyn Hibberd, Steve Callan and Frances Donald.

Ian, Louise (presenting), Frances and Carolyn. Steve had gone home!

The ‘international’ flavour of the weekend was boosted by not only Peter Wilson travelling from Ireland and Michael Sutherland and Fiona Turnbull from England, but both Billy Johnston and Katie Kerr flying in from the United States to join in the fun! See you all again next year!

Euro venue for 2018 announced

The WCF have just released the following statement:

Tallinn, Estonia – The European Curling Championships 2018 (ECC) will take place next year, between 16 and 24 November, at the Tondiraba Ice Hall, in Tallinn, Estonia.

The Estonian Curling Association signed an agreement with the World Curling Federation (WCF) to host the championships, at a special signing ceremony attended by WCF President, Kate Caithness today (Thursday 9 February).

The event is for men’s and women’s teams from the WCF’s European Zone and is divided into A, B and C-Divisions. Traditionally the A and B Divisions are held together in November, with the C-Division earlier in the year, in May. The ECC is a qualification event for the World Curling Championships (WCC) – seven teams, and the host nation, qualify if the next WCC is being held in the European Zone. Eight teams qualify if the next WCC is in the Americas or the Pacific-Asia Zone.

This is the Estonian Curling Association’s second time hosting an international curling event, after its inaugural championships in 2015, when they hosted the World Junior Curling Championships.

WCF President, Kate Caithness, said: “We are pleased that the European Curling Championships 2018 will be taking place in Estonia next year. Estonia has great conditions for hosting championships, and has become a strong curling country in recent years.

“The organising committee for the World Juniors in 2015 did a stellar job pulling together these championships and I am looking forward to working with them again as they prepare for one of our flagship events”

According to Rainer Vakra, President of the Estonian Curling Association, Estonia has never hosted such an important competition before. He said: “For the Estonian Curling Association, hosting such a big event is one of the biggest challenges that a federation could take on. The right to host European Championships will definitely bring value to City of Tallinn, to Estonia and, of course, to the community of Estonian sports and curling.”

“The Estonian Curling Association already has experience in hosting a high level competition – the 2015 Junior World Championships were held in Tallinn. So far, cooperation with our partners has been very good and we are counting on the continuous support of City of Tallinn and Republic of Estonia in hosting this event as well,” he added.

The exact Member Associations to compete at the ECC A and B-Divisions – to be played in separate halls in the Tondiraba Ice Hall – will be clear after the ECC 2017 in St Gallen, Switzerland (17-25 November). Previously, the Estonian women’s team played in the European A-Division in 2014 and 2015 – with their highest finish to date, eighth place. The Estonian men’s team have participated in the B-Division before.

Altogether roughly 300 athletes and coaches will be participating at the European Curling Championships. There will be around 100 people who make the championships happen (LOC, ice crew, umpires, volunteers, broadcasters and media). Historically, the European Curling Championships are followed by approximately 15 million TV viewers.

Spring Bonspiel at Kinross

A most enjoyable ICA Spring Bonspiel took place at Kinross Ice Rink on Sunday.

The winning team were Arran, Jen, Helen and John

The winners were the team of Arran Cameron, Jen Ward, Helen Pirnie and John McConnell who were  seven shots up on their opposition. Congratulations to them!

Results: Johnjo Kenny 8 Marie O’Kane 5; Arran Cameron 11 John Fury 4; Carolyn Hibberd 7 Craig Whyte 3.

Fyfes on tour – part 3

The latest from Neil:

Game 4 – “This game was against the Slovakian pair of Daniela Matuliva and Ladislav Derzsi. Unfortunately, yet again, we did not play nearly as well as we can, and the Slovaks were all over us. Three key shots of the game spring to mind; the last stone of the fifth end when we looked as though we had a good chance of stealing a one or two, Derzsi played a lovely angled-raise on one of his corner guards and pumped it right into the four foot to take a one; My last shot (playing the middle three stones) of the seventh end was a guard and we were lying shot with a counter in the four foot and were hoping to steal as there were loads of short stones. Unfortunately the guard was quite a bit short and although it covered the outer two-thirds of the Slovakian stone,that stone could be raised in for shot. We failed to realised that and we should have swept it another couple of feet to get another two or three inches of draw to cover more of the inside of the Slovakian short stone and finally,  the shot after the last one I described,. The Slovaks played a lovely weighted raise, coming right round our guard and raising one of their stones onto our shot stone which disappeared out the back of the house. We couldn’t get into the house wit hour last and the Slovaks drew another in to take a four and leave the score at 9-4 to them. Game over.”

Game 5 – “A win at last! In this game we played the French-speaking brother and sister Swiss duo Fabrice and Celine Apotheloz. We played a lot better in this game and put the Swiss duo under pressure by taking a four in the fifth end to take a 7-4 lead. The Swiss team elected to take their power play in the sixth and closed the gap a bit by taking a two. We elected to take our power play in the seventh end- and played a near perfect end to take a three. The Swiss conceded and Ireland won 10-5!”

Judith Chalmers bit – “On the Sunday after watching some of the knock-out stages we had a wander round Aarau – which is quite a pretty wee Swiss town. We then decided totravel into Basel so that we could explore there a bit too. I was looking forward to reminicing about my first international experience curling for Ireland – the European mens championship ‘A’ league in December 2016. Unfortunately, it poured with rain and being a Sunday in February, nothing was open! We were a bit disappointed about that.”

Curling again – “Not the best tournament for Team Fyfe – but all good experience before the forthcoming World Championships in Lethbridge. Next up is the CCT Dumfries International towards the end of March.”

Fyfes continue their Swiss tour

Neil reports:

Game 2 – “Our second game on Friday was against the 2016 Swiss national champions. Boy, they were REALLY good!
They played almost perfectly and although we managed to score in every end where we had last stone we were 6-4 down after six ends. At this point the Swiss pair elected to take their power play which they played perfectly – taking a 4 thanks to a couple of loose shots from us. Game over.”

Game 3 – “An early start for us on Saturday morning with a game at 0800hrs (0700hrs UK time) against the Russian pair of Sergey Glukhov and Anastasia Moskaleva.
Again we failed to play to our full potential and although the score was 4-4 after 5 ends we could easily have been ahead by 2 or 3 shots had we managed to play the latter half of a couple of ends a bit better. The Russians took control of the game in the 6th end by taking a 4 in their power play and we failed to respond to this in the 7th by only managing to take a 1.
In the last end the Russians ran us out of stones and the final score was Russia 8 Ireland 5.”

Fantastic Fyfes on tour

Irish mixed doubles champions, Neil and Alison Fyfe, are currently in Switzerland, playing for the 3rd International Mixed Doubles Trophy in Aarau.

Alison, Anette, Neil and Vincent

Once again they were drawn to play double Olympic champion and multiple world and European champion skip, Anette Norberg from Sweden, and her MD partner,  Vincent Stenberg. They put up a blinding display of MD curling against probably the best female curler of her generation.

Neil reports: “Our first game was against Annette Norberg and Vincent Stenberg (a re run of the first Netherlands 🇳🇱 game. The Swedish duo started off well taking a single shot in ends 1 and 2, however Team Fyfe equaled the score after 4 ends by taking a single in the third end then stealing a single in the 4th. 

“In the fifth end we managed to restrict the Swedish team to a single shot and then decided not to take our power play in the sixth (probably due to not having been particularly successful when playing the power play recently!  Help required please Coach McCrossan!!!). Some really good shots were played in the sixth, however when Alison came to play her last it was impossible to move the Swedish counter which was welded on the button against a couple of other shots and a 1 was conceded. 
“Team Fyfe elected to take their power play in the penultimate end and played a blinder. Although the Swedish duo when under pressure played a great double takeout with their last stone to lie first and third shot, Alison countered this with her last stone by removing both Swedish stones leaving Ireland lying 3 shots. One shot going into the last without. 
“Team Ireland did their best to get the steal in the last end when Alison drew round a short Swedish stone into the four foot to lie in shot position with her last, although it was only partly hidden. Annette Norberg, like a true Olympic champion however played a good shot with her last and the Irish stone was successfully cleared leaving the Swedish team lying 2 shots.  Ireland 5 Sweden 6.” 

ICA ladies’ NYC training camp

Katie and Ailsa

While Irish Ladies C League team members Jen Ward and Jacqui Barr were training in Scotland recently, skip Ailsa Anderson and vice-skip Katie Kerr managed to get in some training in New York.

Katie in action

Ailsa never travels far without her curling shoes and fortunately Katie’s Brooklyn based opposition were in need of a sub.

Although it was her first time playing arena ice outdoors, Ailsa reported that the ice was “interesting to say the least!”.

The NYC club members and Ailsa

But a great game was had and big thanks to Curl NYC for allowing Ailsa to join in.

Team spirit shines through

It was team spirit that won the ICA players their second consecutive triple crown in the Four Nations at Greenaces. Every player that stepped on the ice to curl for Ireland made a contribution to the final WIN-WIN-WIN posted up on the screens around the ice rink. Some games were close, some games were not so close, both for and against the Irish, but everyone hung in there and made every effort to get as many shots counting as they could.

The Saturday games saw Ireland men and woman lose to Scotland in two very close games.Then two mixed teams got the better of Wales in the second session. The third session saw two more mixed teams face the English. One narrow win and one defeat left us seven shots adrift in that contest and four behind Scotland, but 14 up on Wales at the end of play.

After the Saturday night dinner and dancing….and some alcoholic refreshments for a few of us……… it was the ungodly hour of 9 o’ clock on Sunday morning when we returned to  battle.

It was the mixed teams that surged Ireland ahead of Scotland for the Marshall Millennium Trophy with two wins taking us ten shots clear at 31-21.

Then the men and women faced the Welsh through in the ice box on E and F. The men struggled but fought hard to the last stone while the ladies had a big win to make sure that Ireland retained the Meikle Trophy 40-21.

As is often the case, the tussle with England for the Turnbull Trophy was epic. Ireland were seven shots behind when David Whyte and his team of lead Nathan Furey, second Eoin McCrossan and third Arran Cameron faced John Brown’s England in the men’s game on C while Alison Fyfe skipped Clare McCormick, Jen Ward and Louise Kerr against Judith Dixon’s English ladies team on D. The men got a good start with a five but the women got a **** start, losing a three. However, the ladies ground it out end after end, with Alison saving the day at the sixth end with a magnificent tap up round a guard to save Ireland losing a shed-load of shots. With the men creeping up the scoreboard, Ireland were getting close to the magic total of eight shots up over both games.

The last end was pure drama. Peels with last stone, the women played a beezer of an end, Jen made a cracker to peel two guards with one stone, and the main aim to keep the front clear for our super-skip was achieved, with the added bonus of Irish stones peppering the house. With her last stone, English skip Judith made an under pressure draw  to lie shot in the back four foot.

Alison then elected to play a hack weight tap back on the English shot. She glided out of the hack and as her stone made it’s way down towards the bar end we knew it needed to swing…..it was hanging out…..then, at last, it stared to draw, but would it finish in time? It sailed into the house and clipped the edge of another Irish stone, rolling gently off it, ending up just touching the button as first shot,  giving the Irish girlies a hard-fought 6-5 win.

The measure to decide the winner on the Turnbull Trophy.

All heads then swung round to sheet C…… the men’s game next door….. where a  measure had been called for to see who was first shot in their last end. Time seemed to stand still as the measure spun slowly round……..phew, it was Ireland’s. Relief and joy for Ireland but agony for England. Our men had won 10-3,  seven up,  snatching the Turnbull Trophy back out of England’s grasp at the death by one shot –  27 to 26..

What a blast the Four Nations is. Roll on January 2018 when Ireland will host it at Stranraer Ice Rink from the 19th to the 21st.  This will be a first for Stranraer and, according to John Brown, who knows these things, the first time a Four Nations has been held at a four-sheeter rink.

On a personal note as the current ICA President,  I am immensely proud of what our small band of curlers achieved at the weekend. You are all stars! But, no resting on laurels teammates…..the triple triple is our next target. Go away and prepare yourselves for 4N2018.

Triple Crown for Ireland!

Team Ireland with the Meikle, the Turnbull and the Marshall Milennium trophies

The ICA squad had a fantastic weekend at Greenacres at

the Four Nations, winning all three trophies against England, Scotland and Wales, for the second year running.

Well done to all our curlers. More news and results to follow shortly.