Asham Under 21 Slam Inverness International
The 34th Inverness Junior Curling International was played to a successful conclusion at Inverness Ice Centre over the weekend. The competition, part of the Asham Under 21 Slam and sponsored locally by ARK Estates and Ashers Bakers, had attracted a strong field along with a smattering of local talent.
In the girls event Karina Aitken’s RCCC Academy rink, featuring Elgin curler Amy MacDonald at third, went undefeated through the qualifying section. Having lost last year’s skip to the Academy system, Amy Bryce moved up to skip three quarters of the 2014 winning rink, with Lauren Morgan coming it at third, and the team dropped only one game. Katie Murray’s Academy rink, with last year’s winning skip Rebecca Morrison at third, had a couple of slips during the qualifiers. Twice winner Murray dropped a couple of games, but managed to secure a place in the semis. 2014 runner-up Lesley Young, again featuring Elgin’s Marran Nicol, completed the semi-final line up.
Katie Murray showed her experience in the first semi, firing off a series of stolen ends to end Bryce’s winning streak, closing out a solid 7-2 win in six ends. Karina Aitken’s squad maintained their form from the qualifiers posting an 8-4 win in nine ends over Lesley Young.
Karina Aitken was absent for the final and Amy MacDonald moved up to skip the rink. The final was effectively over in the first half hour. Murray opened with a deuce then sealed the deal with a big steal of four in the second. Given Murray’s experience MacDonald was unlikely to make significant inroads and shook after seven, Murray reclaiming the title and putting earlier defeats behind her with a convincing 9-2 win (pictured top: Katie Murray, Rebecca Morrison, Hailey Duff, Mili Smith). In the 3/4 game Team Bryce ran out comfortable 8-4 winners.
The boys event featured two sections with the top two qualifying straight to semi-finals.
Ross Whyte Academy rink topped Section A with a perfect record. Team Barr, skipped by Kerr Sands, dropped one game to Whyte to secure their place in the final stages. Following a late call-off due to illness Section A saw Team Clark feature young Elgin curler Jamie Rankin. Jamie is the son of former Scottish champion Stephen Rankin and Olympic champion Janice Rankin. While the Clark rink had a tough weekend in terms of results the experience will be invaluable to Jamie moving forward.
Section B looked competitive on paper and so it proved for the local rink skipped by Liam MacLeod. Robin Brydone’s Academy rink included Inverness curler Calum Greenwood. For the competition the rink was skipped by Craig Waddell with Brydone continuing to throw last stones. The combination proved successful with Brydone having a trouble free run through qualification. Craig Joiner put his defeat to Brydone behind him to drop a solitary game to clinch the last spot in the semis.
The semis matched Brydone against Barr. The Barr rink never got going and conceded in the seventh with the score at 6-2.
The second semi-final between Whyte and Joiner was an entirely different affair. Fortunes swung throughout with neither side able to take a decisive advantage. Whyte appeared to have the edge in the later stages and led by two in the tenth. However Joiner manufactured the deuce he required for an extra end. Ross Whyte held last stone advantage and made it count with a single for 8-7, maintaining his unbeaten record.
The final was closely contested throughout. However quality stone placement saw Team Brydone steal a deuce in the ninth for a two shot lead when Whyte’s final stone over-curled. Team Brydone ran for home and looked comfortable until Whyte played a high quality double and rolled partially behind cover. The shot gave Whyte the opportunity to take the game to an extra when Brydone’s attempted pick ran straight and shaved the shot stone, however Whyte’s four foot draw ran marginally too far and Brydone had his second title (pictured left: Robin Brydone, Callum Kinnear, Calum Greenwood, Craig Waddell). In the 3/4 game Joiner pipped Barr 10-6.
A successful weekend with the ten end format meeting universal approval and the top teams emphasising their credentials for the forthcoming junior championships.
Report by Neil Gallacher
Full line scores for Asham Under 21 Slam Inverness International